CN Rail employees ratify new contract

Wages, benefits improve but pension demands were not achieved.

Canadian National Railway has a new collective agreement with 4,300 skilled trades, office workers and truck drivers.

The new contract with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) was ratified on February 14 with roughly 80 per cent of members voting in favour. The tentative agreement had been reached on January 24 on the eve of a strike deadline.

According to CAW National Council 4000 president Barry Kennedy, “As is always the case, this round of negotiations with CN was very challenging.”

The new labour contract provides a signing bonus of $500 for shopcraft and office employees and $250 for drivers, wage increases of 2.4 per cent in 2011, 2.6 per cent in 2012, 3.0 per cent in 2013 and 3.0 per cent in 2014. Drivers received different increases, including a $2,500 lump sum. The healthcare spending account for retirees is increased and various benefits are improved.

The union was not able to increase pensions because the fund is not currently in surplus.

The skilled trades won a modernization agreement that trains employees to achieve provincial registration (allowing them access to better jobs in the event of a layoff) and a formalized apprenticeship program.

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