CP Rail, union agree to binding arbitration, ending work stoppage

Canadian Pacific Railway and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) have agreed to binding arbitration, ending the work stoppage as it extended into its third day.

Normal business operations for the railway are set to resume Tuesday, March 22.

“CP is pleased to have reached agreement with the TCRC Negotiating Committee to enter into binding arbitration and end this work stoppage,” said CP President and CEO Keith Creel, in a statement issued shortly after 2 am EDT on Tuesday. “This agreement enables us to return to work effective noon Tuesday local time to resume our essential services for our customers and the North American supply chain.”

A spokesperson for the TCRC, which represents around three thousand CP employees, said both parties have agreed to accept the arbitrator’s decision as final, and that the union will not be commenting until the arbitration process is complete.

An update from the union to its members on Tuesday morning, however, said “wages, benefits and pension are the outstanding issues the arbitrator will rule on.”

News that CP is resuming operations is being welcomed by farm groups and shippers across all sectors.

The work stoppage raised major concerns about feed availability in Western Canada, as cattle feeders and feed companies have been relying on corn imports via CP Rail following last year’s drought. On Monday, Bob Lowe, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said feeders would run out of supply in one to two weeks without CP’s trains running.

There were also significant concerns, not only in Canada but in the U.S. as well, about movement of potash fertilizer across North America ahead of spring planting.

The Canadian Oilseed Processors Association, meanwhile, said canola processing plants were being forced to curb operations.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Grain Growers of Canada, Fertilizer Canada, and National Cattle Feeders’ Association held a joint press conference on Parliament Hill on Monday to discuss the serious consequences of the work stoppage for the agriculture sector.

The timeline for the arbitration process has not been announced, but CP is expected to continue with normal business operations through the arbitration period.