Union strife could railroad CN deal; Teamsters trying takeover

OTTAWA — Former Canadian representatives of the United Transportation Union are trying to scuttle a tentative labor agreement with CN Rail by mounting a Teamsters takeover of the U.S.-based union.

Tim Secord, national legislative director and UTU-Canada’s senior officer, says that he foresees “renewed uncertainty on Canadian and U.S. rail routes” due to inter-union rivalries and opposition from a former Chairperson Rex Beatty, who is said to be campaigning aggressively to have members scuttle the February 24th settlement with CN.

UTU says it wants to close the deal with CN, but the new

Strike action is currently suspended until a March 26, 2007 ratification vote. Most members have voluntarily returned to work as encouraged by the union.
“We’re concerned that both the Teamsters’ raid on our members and former Chairperson Rex Beatty’s opposition to the settlement may mean failure to ratify the February 24 settlement,” said Secord.

With Beatty’s assistance, the Teamsters have applied for certification to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for the right to represent UTU Canada members. “Beatty is telling our guys to vote down the CN Settlement as part of his game plan to take over UTU-Canada. And that could mean more uncertainty for Canadian businesses and all Canadians.”

With the threat of federal back-to-work legislation looming, the UTU, representing 2,800 conductors and yard workers, reached an agreement with CN to end the two-week strike, which had crippled several industries across Canada.

Under the initial leadership of Beatty, the union first rejected final wage offers of 4.5 percent, 4.5 percent, and 4 percent over three years.

However, Beatty was sacked by UTU International President Paul Thompson soon after because he did not get approval from the union’s U.S. head office before ordering workers to strike.

“We know arbitration is not in the best interests of our members. We’re trying to get the settlement ratified but the Teamsters’ raid and Beatty’s career path are getting in the way,” said Secord.

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