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CP, mechanics’ union reach 11th-hour agreement

Unionized locomotive and rail car repair staff and inspectors at Canadian Pacific Railway have reached a labour deal with the company, less than three days before a scheduled strike.

The 2,100 affected shopcraft staff, represented by the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Local 101, will vote over the next three weeks on the tentative settlement, CP announced Saturday.

CAW said in a separate statement Saturday morning that the tentative agreement was reached late Friday night, ending “nearly a week of around-the-clock negotiations.”

Neither CP nor the CAW would yet release details of the agreement, other than for the CAW to say the deal “enjoys the unanimous endorsement of the CAW-CP Rail master bargaining committee.”

Local union leadership are to come to Montreal from across the country to review the new agreement early next week, the CAW said.

From there, the deal would go on to a series of nationwide ratification meetings. Details would be released following ratification, CP said.

Calgary-based CP was staring down a strike deadline the CAW had set for 12:01 a.m. Tuesday (Feb. 8).

The deal between CP and its CAW-represented staff comes about two weeks after four separate CAW bargaining units reached a tentative deal with Canadian National Railway (CN).

The four units, representing about 4,300 mechanical and shopcraft staff and intermodal truckers, called off their scheduled Jan. 25 strike against CN with less than a day to spare.

The CAW had simultaneously announced its strike deadlines Jan. 13 against both companies.

Grain growers, especially on the Prairies where rail is needed to move most crops to port, have previously warned labour disputes and work stoppages on Canada’s railways can back crops up into on-farm storage and interfere significantly with farmers’ cash flow.

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