Tentative deal reached to end CN strike

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / Maximkostenko

After a week on the picket lines, CN conductors, trainpersons, and yard workers will soon be back on the job.

Canadian National Railway and the Teamsters union announced Tuesday morning that a tentative deal has been reached to end a strike. According to the Teamsters, normal operations will resume Wednesday at 6 a.m. local time.

“I am pleased to announce that we’ve reached a tentative agreement with CN. I would like to thank our members for their incredible courage and solidarity,” said the president of Teamsters Canada, François Laporte. “I would also like to thank all the Teamster local unions from across different industries, all the labour organizations and members of the public who supported us on the picket line.”

The deal will have to be ratified by union members. A secret ballot electronic vote will be held in the coming days, after meetings are held to explain the terms of the agreement. Details will not be released to the public until union members have had a chance to look at it first.

The strike led to concerns in several industries about a reduction in shipping capability. Perhaps the loudest alarm bells were sounded in the farming sector, where producers worried about a shortage of propane affecting their ability to dry their crops. Louis Roesch, Essex and Kent zone director for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, said he got a call from propane supplier Dowler-Karn on Sunday night alerting him of the situation. On Friday, Dowler-Karn posted a message on its Facebook page, calling the effects of the strike “crippling.” The supplier informed customers that it would be prioritizing supply based on critical need requirements including home heat, barn heat, and critical infrastructure like hospitals and nursing homes.

Fortunately, with the strike coming to an end, those propane shipments should return to normal frequency.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, the Teamers thanked the federal government for not racing to bring forward back to work legislation. It acknowledged Labour Minister Filomena Tassi, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) for being “instrumental in helping parties find common ground.”

“Previous governments routinely violated workers’ right to strike when it came to the rail industry. This government remained calm and focused on helping parties reach an agreement, and it worked,” Laporte said.