Labour minister names arbitrator in CP Rail labour dispute

Arbitrator was suggested by both rail company and union

(Reuters) — Labour Minister Lisa Raitt named William Kaplan as the arbitrator in the dispute between the Canadian Pacific Railway and its unionized workers, according to a statement issued by Raitt's office on July 19.

Kaplan, an experienced arbitrator and mediator, must give his verdict within 90 days of his appointment, unless an extension is provided by Raitt. Kaplan was suggested by both the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC).

The Teamsters union launched its strike on May 23, shutting down freight along CP lines and forcing some customers to reduce operations. The government, concerned about the impact on the economy, pushed through back-to-work legislation to end the nine-day stoppage.

The striking workers have been without a contract since Dec. 31, with the disagreement focusing on CP demands to cut pension funding by 40 percent.

"The appointment of an arbitrator is a key step in resolving these disputes. I urge the parties to work together and extend their full cooperation to Kaplan," Raitt said.

The TCRC represents about 220 rail traffic controllers, and 4200 locomotive engineers, conductors, yardmen and other rail staff.

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