Culture of fear spurs union drive at Canadian Pacific Railway

The IBEW is inviting CP management
to protect themselves by joining
the union.
On May 17 Canadian Pacific Railway's CEO and six board members stepped down opening the door for wholesale change. For many workers  there is concern the corporation will install former CN boss Hunter Harrison as the new Chief Executive Officer and with him the "culture of fear" that once reigned over CN. This fear was voiced by the outgoing management and is at the root of a new union organizing drive at the railway.

On May 8 the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers reported it 'has been approached by a number of CP managers who expressed their disappointment and frustration in dealing with CP.  Certainly the economy has not been great, and business may have suffered, however it is unfair that CP has not recognized the hard work and effort put forward by CP management personnel. It has been very difficult to accept minimal to zero pay increases over the last two years.  It is even more difficult to accept that there has been no bonus pay in recognition of hard work.  The fact is there does not appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  A new CEO will not magically create a new environment in which salaries can be increased.  The reality is that change will occur.

The IBEW reported: "People we have talked to have expressed their fear of not being able to reach their retirement.  If they do, they are not seeing how they will maximize their best five years of salary to improve their pension and allow them to retire with dignity.

"What is being suggested is that the middle managers all across Canada unite and meet at the bargaining table with their employer to mitigate any cuts, restructuring and layoffs.  Certainly it is difficult to know what the future may hold, however the opportunity to negotiate increases that must be maintained and to negotiate bonuses or overtime pay which cannot be taken away is certainly better than begging for mercy.

IBEW says Union yes

"The IBEW has a long history in representing men and women in the workplace.  We believe we are the right choice to represent your interests with your employer, as we have a long practice in working with our employers to find solutions that are not simply one-sided but consider the needs of everyone involved.

"Without a collective agreement in place all the terms of employment are at risk and are subject to the whims of the employer. Pension, sick leave, vacation, medical benefits, hours of work and wages are examples of the areas that the employer has the unrestricted opportunity to adjust without your permission or input. We invite you to consider your alternatives and ask you to support each other and protect each other's rights by joining with the IBEW and having a say in your future," the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers reported.

More information:

The railway also faces a more immediate challenge. A 72-hour strike notice from the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), which represents 4,800 engineers, conductors and rail traffic controllers in Canada means a work stoppage can occur as early as 0001 on May 23, 2012. If there is a lockout or strike CP will proceed with a safe and structured shut down of its train operations in Canada.