Over 2,800 members of the United Transportation Union (UTU) went out on strike against Canadian National Railways at midnight on Saturday, Feb. 10. According to Rex Beatty, general chairman of one of the four Canadian general committees on strike, trainmen on the CN want longer break periods and a pay raise. The strike continues as we go to press.
The striking Canadians are getting no support from their International. UTU International President Paul Thompson has refused all aid to the strikers: “Rather than having the assistance of the largest railroad union in North America and the substantial resources of the International on their side, our brothers and sisters in Canada have been put in a position of having to fend for themselves.”
Union Lawyers Side with the Railroad
The Canada Industrial Relations Board met with union and company representatives on Feb. 13. Siding with the railroad, lawyers for the UTU International asked the CIRB to declare the strike illegal. The Board postponed any decision.
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference has issued a statement wishing the UTU “total success” in their strike, but BLET members in Canada are legally prevented from honoring the strikers’ picket lines. “This is exactly why we need a democratic merger of the BLET and UTU,” said Ed Michael, a member of BLET Div. 724. “We should all be united when we go up to fight the carriers.”