(Corrects headline and first paragraph to show that arbitration
process has begun. Removes reference to arbitration starting
should contract talks fail)
TORONTO, March 28 Canadian National Railway Co
and the union representing its conductors, yard
workers, and traffic coordinators have agreed to start an
arbitration process that ensures their most recent contract
dispute will not lead to a strike at Canada's largest rail
Both CN and the Teamsters union, which represents some 3,000
workers, confirmed the development by email on Friday. CN
spokesman Mark Hallman said he expects the arbitration process
towards a new collective agreement to conclude by mid-June.
Union members have twice voted down tentative agreements
reached with the Montreal-based railway, the last time by a
narrow vote of 891 to 852.
CN said last week it was prepared to meet one last time with
the union, but only if the union agreed to go to arbitration
should talks fail.
Members have rejected the last two tentative agreements
because they do not trust the company to respect provisions on
rest under the existing contract, union members have said.
The dispute comes as CN works to comply with a government
order to move 5,500 grain cars a week to address a massive
bottleneck. The backlog is due to a record-shattering harvest in
2013, exacerbated by transport disruptions due to an extremely
(Reporting by Cameron French and Solarina Ho; Editing by
Jeffrey Hodgson and David Gregorio)