Setting the record straight to CN’s Communique
- CN Says: This was done “in an effort to increase transparency of information” and that they intend to keep you up-to-date on collective bargaining.
Unifor Response: This has never happened before at this stage in talks. The employer stated its intention to share the monetary package before even presenting it, as a threat to undermine the bargaining committees. Now that they’ve shared their own bad news, we’re happy to talk about it.
- CN Says: “They remain focused on reaching an agreement with improved wages and benefits, enabling CN to evolve its culture to one that drives superior customer service and growth, all without the threat of labour action.”
Unifor Response: We are prepared to accepted improved wages and benefits. But CN’s compensation offer falls below today’s inflationary rates. CN generated $1.42 billion in profits in the last three months of 2022 (according to CN’s own reports). CN’s top executives and shareholders are well rewarded from these yearly profits, and the workers who keep CN’s operations running need our fair share.
- CN Says: Discussions with Unifor have been ongoing since October 2022, until Unifor filed for conciliation two months ago, on December 16, 2022.
Unifor Response: Conciliation is a normal part of negotiations and does not stop the bargaining process, rather it helps move the process along with the help of federal conciliators. Since filing for conciliation, we have met with CN on two separate occasions during the weeks of January 16-20 and February 13-17, 2023.
- CN Says: Since filing for conciliation Unifor has made themselves available for a total of nine days.
Unifor Response: We are always willing to meet but it must be productive. In the last round of bargaining with CN, the parties were able to conclude a tentative settlement within nine days and without the need of a strike mandate because the employer was not tabling the same offensive package of concessions. This time, CN has not been transparent in their dealings with the union.
- CN Says: On February 14, 2023, CN provided a comprehensive offer to Unifor which improves wages and benefits in an attempt to conclude bargaining. This would avoid any potential labour action.
Unifor Response: Your bargaining committees tabled our economic package back in December and CN refused to respond. CN answered months later with their so called “comprehensive offer”. Their offer falls far short from what members expect and deserve.
- CN Says: We agreed not to communicate our offer … until the end of this week, so as to allow your union to reach a deal. The union has not responded to CN’s proposed offer.
Unifor Response: CN opened our last bargaining discussions on Monday, February 13 with what the union took as a threat to Unifor’s Bargaining Committees by announcing: ‘We will be tabling a global economic offer later in the day and if you choose not to accept it, we will be communicating with our employees, your members!’ We asked CN if this was their final offer, to which they responded, ‘There is not much wiggle room for more.’ The only way to build ‘wiggle room’ from this highly profitable company is to build solidarity.
To be clear, we did respond to CN’s offer by saying its not enough and falls short of what we believe our members would see as being reasonable given today’s economic challenges.
We also asked if CN would respond to Unifor’s Common Economic Demands that we presented in December, to which CN said no!
Make no mistake – CN’s actions were in response to Unifor being honest by informing them of our intentions to conduct strike votes after the February 13-17 bargaining sessions should they fall short of what we believe are our members’ expectations.
- CN Says: The union has limited its discussions with CN on the benefit proposal, and has had no discussions of proposed wage and shift differential improvements. As a result, we do not have an agreement.
Unifor Response: CN’s proposed benefit improvements, like their wage offerings, also fell short of what we believe to be reasonable. We had Unifor’s Benefits Advisor and specialist speak directly to CN’s Benefit person via a Zoom call before the bargaining committees to question some elements of CN’s benefit proposals and to key in on areas of concern.
CN’s proposals did not address any of the improvements that we were seeking in the proposals that we tabled. CN’s response was a new flex-style benefit plan that contained very little in actual material improvements, and what benefit levels were improved will come at a cost to you, our members. Yes, our discussions were “limited” as CN suggests, but this was due to CN informing us that the Flex Benefits Plan was their only offer to our benefit proposals, and that they had very limited “wiggle room” to negotiate any improvements to what they had tabled.
- CN Says: No further discussions are currently scheduled.
Unifor Response: Unifor will not schedule any further bargaining discussions until such time we attain a strike mandate from our membership. Dates, times and locations for these strike vote meetings will be provided by your Local Union and Council representatives.