IAma Conductor with CN Rail and we're on strike. AMA.
Edit 5: Still not convinced to CNs "commitment to safety?" Here is the order from the government to update and modernize our work/rest rules to incorporate the "latest fatigue science." And here is the follow-up letter that states:
I would like to inform you that I have refused to approve the submissions submitted by railway companies in response to the MO 18-01 as they clearly do not address the fatigue-related risks identified in the Ministerial Order.
Edit 4: There is a reason this song exists.
Edit 3: For those wondering about CNs commitment to safety.
Edit 2: Quebec will run out of propane in 5 days. Just so people are aware trains are still running (albeit at reduced capacity)! CN management can run trains to supply Quebec with fuel! This is just an attempt to vilify conductors and the union.
Edit 1: CN has now sent an email directly to employees. Notably lacking: any actual solutions! Just a plea to go back to work and continue doing what they're doing.
Effective 2101 PST November 18th, Conductors, Yardmen/women and Yardmasters at CN Rail went on legal strike.
Disclaimer: I do not speak on behalf of the Union.
Let me first start by specifying what this strike is (and is not) about. It's not about increasing our pay, many of us (myself included) don't care about a pay raise. Our pay is sufficient (but our benefits are 20 years behind other unions). What we really want is a better quality of life!
In our industry it's not uncommon to be away from home for 100+ hours/week! It is also not uncommon to be severely fatigued and constantly fighting sleep. Imagine being jet lagged (you've been jet lagged, right?) well that's what it's like for us, except all the time!
Despite what you may think unions do not hold any significant amount of power. For example, CN management routinely violates our collective agreement (aka a contract)! We cannot refuse to do work even if a judge (or arbiter in our case) has ruled a certain task to be a violation of our collective agreement.
However, in return for doing the work we are supposed to be compensated by an amount which increases as the violations (aka breach of contract) continue. In theory, the increasing "fine" is supposed to dissuade CN from continuing to violate our collective contract, but CN has employed several tricks to circumvent this process:
- CN has long ago figured out that they can just fire people and that people who are fired will jump to the front of the queue for cases heard.
- Somewhat related to 1), CN will typically offer employees their job back (usually without lost wages) before their "day in court" thereby decreasing the number of cases an arbiter hears.
- They can file preliminary objection after preliminary objection after preliminary objection, so now one case (effectively) becomes two!
All of these points combined mean that an arbiter only hears (on average) 5 cases per month. These arbiters are responsible for hearing cases from (at least) 6 different companies across countless collective contracts. Very few cases are about being compensated for the thousands of violations (yes THOUSANDS, and that's just at CN) that happen each. and. every. month!
Being on strike is actually the only time we can fight for better rights and even then, the ink hasn't even dried before they start violating what they just agreed to.