May 23, 2012
Nearly 5,000 members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference employed by CP Rail as engineers, conductors, yardmen and others walked off the job shortly after midnight on May 23 in a struggle for a fair collective agreement. Several hundred of them are based in Winnipeg.
The first day of picketing was marred by two drivers who forced their vehicles through the line at McPhillips Street and Jarvis Avenue. Lorne Ozuk, TCRC Division 76 local president said one vehicle was a cab trying to get into the nearby casino and another was a car trying to get out. One picketer suffered a bruised elbow.
The strike has shut down CP Rail’s freight service across the country.
A union information sheet distributed on the picket line profiles the major issues as reductions in pension payments, reduced retirement health care benefits concessions on work rules, and company indifference to fatigue management proposals.
The Teamsters are picketing at two CP locations in Winnipeg – McPhilips and Jarvis, adjacent to the Casino, and Keewatin and Selkirk, east side between Selkirk and the underpass. Picketing begins at about 6:30 a.m. and continues until about 2:00 a.m. the next morning. The CP Rail workers will appreciate any support you can show for them and it is sure to boost morale on the line when they see you walking the picketline with them.
The Harper government is threatening to force the parties into binding arbitration, continuing its practice of interfering in the free collective bargaining process – something that could occur within days.