Repair, maintenance and locomotive and rail car inspection staff at Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) have voted to ratify the last-minute deal that kept them off the picket line.
The 1,625 unionized workers, represented by Unifor’s CP shopcraft bargaining unit, voted 79 per cent in favour of their four-year deal at membership meetings over the past two weeks, Unifor said Monday.
The union and company reached the deal on Feb. 14 “just minutes” before the union’s midnight strike deadline, Unifor said.
The two sides had been in talks for five months to revise and renew a previous agreement that expired Dec. 31. Canada’s Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service was also involved in the talks.
According to Unifor, the new agreement provides for wage increases in each of its four years and improves the worker benefit package.
Unifor said the deal also includes a pledge from CP to maintain operations at its Weston facility in Winnipeg, which employs 160 people.
CP, the union said, “has committed in writing to continuing to invest in the Weston shop, which will mean new work and new jobs in the location.”
The deal also calls for “stronger” apprenticeship ratios; the appointment of up to three women’s advocates; and a new program granting paid leave to skilled trades members to take on repair work for community and international relief agencies.
It also calls for CP to contribute five cents per hour per member into Unifor’s new Canadian Community Fund, which Unifor said will be used to “partner” with community organizations across Canada.
Peter Edwards, CP’s vice-president for labour relations, on Monday described the new deal as “fair to both sides and… the result of hard work by all of those involved.”
Calgary-based CP noted Monday the deal is its sixth long-term collective agreement now in place with its Canadian employees’ unions.
CP is still in the midst of binding arbitration with its conductors’ and engineers’ union, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. The Teamsters and CP agreed to arbitration Feb. 16 after a day-long strike, under threat of federal back-to-work legislation.
Federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, in a separate release Monday, credited Unifor and CP for “working together and finding a solution that will benefit everyone.”
“Although challenging, this round of negotiations showed that a settlement reached at the bargaining table is the best deal for everyone,” Unifor president Jerry Dias said in the union’s release.
Negotiations, he said, are “the time every few years that workers can have a direct say in improving their conditions and sharing in the wealth they help create.” — AGCanada.com Network