Rankandfile.ca spoke with Peter, a long-serving conductor at CN, Canada’s largest rail company.
In part one of the interview, Peter discusses the transformation of labour relations and downsizing at CN under the leadership of Hunter Harrison (1998-2010), who is now the chief executive at CPR.
By some accounts, Harrison spearheaded the “Americanization” of CN shortly after the privatization of the hallmark Crown Corporation in 1995.
CN management and corporate culture is now so determined by raising share value, that the company is allegedly forging efficiency statistics to inflate stock prices and boost executive compensation, according to whistleblowers.
Until the evening of February 5, job action loomed at CN after the Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference had served strike notice earlier this week. Members of the union rejected the tentative agreement by a clear majority last fall.
The federal Conservative government predictably promised back-to-work legislation in the event of a strike.
Saskatchewan’s Premier, Brad Wall, even wrote to Transportation Minister, Lisa Raitt, insisting that a work stoppage “would be unacceptable” for the province’s farmers who are already struggling to get their crops to market.
But can CN’s workers be to blame for delays and safety issues across the country? If the Conservatives rush to introduce back-to-work legislation, why can’t they act with the same sense of urgency when it comes to regulating and maintaining a reliable and safe transportation network?
Check out our interview with Peter for some historical context to these current problems.
In part two of the interview, Peter discusses his involvement in the campaign and the union coalition that assembled to save the caboose. Peter discusses what the movement meant for safety and jobs in rail transportation.