Brothers and Sisters,
Last night we concluded the last of this round of bargaining town-halls. Due to demand, we changed to a webinar format, which went very well. We are very happy with the overwhelming participation of USW 2004 members throughout these negotiations.
As we reminded you, the bargaining committee and USW 2004 local executive are committed to providing you with as much information as possible during these negotiations.
We have already seen the results that your engagement has had at the bargaining table, so please continue to stay engaged and informed. If you have any questions or concerns, please communicate those to your Unit Chairs, who are in regular contact with members of the bargaining team.
As we also informed you, we are now bargaining past the expiry of the collective agreement. This is significant, but not a cause for concern. Under the “statutory freeze” provisions of the Canada Labour Code, all current provisions of the collective agreement continue to be maintained, including your health benefits. This continues until there is a new deal -- or until there is a strike or lock-out.
Many negotiations have gone past expiry, even if USW Local 2004 has not done so for many years. Given recent negotiations with IBEW and UNIFOR, we were expecting a tough round of bargaining and we knew that we may eventually have to ask you for a strike mandate to bring the deal home.
But we are not there yet. We remain confident that we can obtain a fair deal with the company without escalating to strike action. We think the Company recognizes the important work that you all do to keep this railway running safely and efficiently, and we are hopeful that the Company will move on the items that remain outstanding. You should know that our positions are not unreasonable, and we do not think that the parties are all that far apart.
That said, we firmly believe that the best way to prevent a strike is to be prepared for one. This is why your bargaining team began preparing for these negotiations early in November 2022. This is why we have opened the bargaining process like never before. This is why we are working hard off the table to ensure that you are properly informed about our progress and the status of negotiations. In short, we are prepared, both at and beyond the table, to leverage the fair deal that our members deserve.
This is your collective agreement and ultimately you will have the final say in the outcome. Keep up the engagement and your involvement and continue to engage and encourage your colleagues to stay active and informed.
We expect that we will line up dates for meeting with the Company very soon and will update you as soon as we can.
The USW Local 2004 Bargaining Team
Cole Kramer, President,
Jamie Desjardins, Mountain Region
Reid Hansen, Prairie Region
Todd Cotie, Great Lakes Region
Claude Arguin, Champlain Region