(Corrects final paragraph to clarify that rail safety, not CN
Rail, is under heavy regulatory scrutiny)
* Workers vote 891 to 852 against, union says
* Second time workers vote against company-union agreement
* CN Rail seeks arbitration
By Solarina Ho and Susan Taylor
TORONTO, March 20 Railway staff of Canadian
National Railway Co (CN Rail) have narrowly voted
against a strike-busting labor agreement tentatively agreed upon
by the company and workers' union.
Canada's biggest railroad and the Teamsters Canada Rail
Conference - Conductors, Trainpersons and Yardpersons (TCRC-CTY)
regularly negotiate pay, hours and other provisions but a
three-year proposal in October drew threats of a strike earlier
The pair came to a new agreement last month after the
Conservative government said it would use back-to-work
legislation if necessary to keep the railway operating.
The union on Thursday said 64.2 percent of union workers
voted 891 to 852 against the new agreement, in a letter to
members that was seen by Reuters.
The TCRC-CTY - which represents some 3,000 conductors, train
and yard workers, and traffic coordinators - also said CN Rail
had originally proposed a final offer selection process if
workers voted the agreement down. This is a process whereby a
third party chooses the proposal of one side or the other.
CN Rail, in a statement after the vote, said it would
propose binding arbitration to reach a settlement and requested
a union response by the end of Friday, March 21.
Montreal-based CN Rail operates a cross-country network that
moves goods ranging from lumber and crude oil to grains and
automobiles. To prevent disruption, the government in recent
years has been quick to intervene in labor disputes.
The latest dispute comes as CN Rail struggles to move 5,500
cars of grain a week to cope with a massive backlog from a
record-shattering harvest in 2013, exacerbated by disruptions
brought about by an extremely cold winter.
Railways and rail safety have come under heavy scrutiny in
Canada and the United States following a series of fiery
derailments, including a runaway train carrying crude oil that
exploded and killed 47 people last summer in Lac Megantic,
(Editing by Christopher Cushing)