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Brothers and Sisters,

Your USW 2004 Bargaining will be meeting with the Company for another round of Bargaining this coming week, February 25 to March 1. As we head into bargaining, it becomes more important then ever to ensure that you are engaged, mobilized and informed.

As you know, we have been meeting since November 2023 and the Union has made every effort to get a fair equitable deal that reflects the current bargaining climate and industry standards.

Despite the Unions best effort to secure a timely agreement the parties remain stuck on several issues, mainly benefits and wages.

We want to emphasize to you that we have taken very reasonable and prudent positions in these negotiations and we are confident that the company and union can reach a fair agreement that reflects the important contribution our members make everyday to keep this railroad safe and operational.

Should we be unable to reach an agreement next week, we may have have no choice but to  file for conciliation and  prepare for a strike vote. We therefore want to take this opportunity to provide you with some basic information about that process.

What happens if we can’t reach a deal? 
Notice of Dispute and Conciliation

If we reach an impasse in our negotiations with the Company, then that does not inevitably lead to a strike or lockout.

Before declaring a strike or lockout, the respective party must first file a “Notice of Dispute” with the federal government.  At this point the Minister of Labor will appoint a conciliation officer to assist the parties to reach an agreement. The conciliator will have a 60-day mandate that may be extended with mutual agreement.

At the end of the conciliation period, a 21-day cooling off period begins. The parties may continue to bargain through this period and after. However, after the 21 days the employer has the right to lock out employees and the union has the right to declare a strike.  In order to legally call a strike, the union must also obtain a strike mandate from members by way of democratic vote within 60 days of the strike deadline.

This means the earliest a Strike or Lockout can occur is 81 days following the Notice of Dispute. In any event, YOU will have the final say in the outcome and we will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision at that time.

Next steps

We continue to bargain next week and we will remain firm in our demands for a fair contract free of concessions and with fair increases to compensation, expenses and benefits.

We do believe that if the  Company comes prepared, and  is serious about getting to a deal, there is a path to agreement.

We continue to rely on your support and engagement and we hope that at the close of next week’s discussions, we can bring to you a fair agreement worthy of your support and ratification.

In Solidarity,
Your Bargaining Team

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