Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Canadian Pacific Rail Resumes Operations

About 4,800 striking Canadian Pacific Rail workers have returned to work following the passage of the Restoring Rail Service Act, legislation that forces members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference union to return to their jobs.

According to CP Rail, operations resumed without incident at about 7 am June 1 across the company’s Canadian freight network in response to passage of the legislation, which became law May 31. It was passed last Thursday by the Canadian Senate.

Earlier in the week, the House of Commons also approved the bill, which mandates that the union and railway submit to binding arbitration, and that the government-appointed arbitrator has 90 days to construct a deal.

The Restoring Rail Service Act had been drafted in response to the nationwide strike, which began May 23 and suspended freight service across the country by CP, Canada’s second-largest railway. The strike was launched by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference in response to an impasse with railway management during contract talks.

Among the issues the union and management had struggled with during contract talks were pensions and fatigue management, according to negotiators.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference represents bargaining units of nearly 5,000 workers – 4,200 locomotive engineers, conductors, trainspersons and yardmen, as well as 220 rail traffic controllers. The collective agreements for both units expired at the end of 2011.

The labor unrest came at a very inopportune time for Canadian Pacific, which just appointed an interim CEO about a week before the strike was launched, and also elected a new 16-member board of directors.
Former CEO Fred Green resigned from CP Rail May 17 after a four-month battle over control of the direction of the company with activist investor Bill Ackman.

In other Canadian Pacific news, the railway elected a new chairman of its board of directors, Paul Haggis, on June 4. Haggis has extensive financial markets and public board experience and is currently Chairman of the Alberta Enterprise Corp. and CA Bancorp. He also is a corporate director of other public and crown corporations, according to CP Rail, including Advantage Oil & Gas.