[Marxism] US/Canada Frictions reflected in Canadian National Railroad Strike

Jon Flanders jonathan.flanders at verizon.net
Sun Feb 22 21:13:51 MST 2004

from a bulletin board at http://www.runningtrades.com/
which is a bulletin board for Canadian railroad workers. First are the
comments of a poster about the  comments he or she  reproduces from
another site. 

Members of the Canadian Autoworkers Union who do mechanical work for the
railroad are on strike, having voted down a contract recommended by the
union. Currently the engineers and conductors are still working, some
trains are running, but there are signs that the strike may spread.

The second text is worth reading carefully.

Jon Flanders

Joined: Jun 22, 2003
Posts: 219
Location: Where ever my notebook computer and cell modem happen to be

The following was taken from one of the CBC web site discussion groups, 
I didn't write it, don't know who did, and don't know any more about it 
than you do. The only reason I'm posting it is because of the last
paragraph, so that everyone understands that this is not a time for 
well intentioned labour heroics and independent action, no matter how 
noble the cause. 

I'm somewhat wary of posting anything in regards to the strike for the
simple reason that American business tends to be inclined to using the 
court system as a weapon, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see  CN
trying to use casual comments on web sites as evidence at some point
should this strike get as really ugly as I have a gut feeling it will. 

At any rate I give you this, without endorsement simply for your


Most Canadians are unaware of the dramatic changes that have occurred in
recent years at Canadian National that are now culminating in this
labour dispute with the CAW. It is important to note that this conflict
will spread to the remaining half dozen unions who are also working
without collective agreements and are presently in negotiations with
Canadian National. This is just the early stages of a labour disruption
which will prove to be unlike any other in Canadian railway history. 

Canadian National's apparent purchase of the Illinois Central several
years ago was, in fact, a transaction that gave control of the company
(already 70 plus per cent American shareholder-owned since privatization
in the fall of 1995) to the American CEO that came with it. And since
Paul Tellier, the Canadian figurehead of Canadian National, departed in
January 2003, Hunter Harrison has consolidated his stranglehold on the
company by installing his American team of senior executives into
virtually every position of power in the company. This fact really begs
the question, "Who bought who?" Let me assure you, the Canadian workers
of Canadian National know the answer. Why? Because we are living it
every day. 

Let me clearly and emphatically dispel the prevailing notion that this
strike is about money. The issue of money, although not unimportant, was
well down the list of workers' concerns that resulted in a rejection of
the tentative contract. Pension improvements for an aging workforce,
inadequate benefit improvements, heavy handed discipline policy changes
imposed without consultation, provisions for part-time workers that
would result in job losses to permanent full-time workers, harassment of
sick and injured workers and a complete disrespect of the collective
agreement by an American owned and managed company that has little
regard for its' Canadian workforce....these are the reasons for this
strike. In short, this is a fight for dignity and respect for Canadian
workers' rights and values against an American company with an American
bully in control using similar bullying tactics that have been employed
by the Americans against Canadian interests such as softwood lumber, the
Canadian Wheat Board, BSE, our decision not to go to war in Iraq and
most despicably, the deportation of an innocent Canadian citizen to a
terrorist state to be tortured on behalf of the United States. 

As of this writing there are reports that approximately 40 Canadian
operating employees (members of United Transportation Union and the
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers-Teamsters) have been summarily fired
by Hunter Harrison without due process. This, for the heinous offence of
respecting a CAW picket line. The CAW legal group is also investigating
reports that American replacement workers are being brought into Canada
and are doing the jobs of Canadian workers. These are just two examples
of what we are fighting against and there are many more.

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