CN Rail union rejects arbitration

CN Rail union rejects arbitration

Canadian National Railway's largest union today rejected the railroad's offer of binding arbitration to settle a 21-day old strike, but said it would consider another contract proposal offered by the company.

CN on Wednesday proposed that if the union declined arbitration, it should submit a final company offer to its members for a vote.

The Montreal-based railroad also said it would resume bargaining but only if the union called off the strike.

The union's chief negotiator, Gary Fane, said, "We haven't yet seen CN's new enhanced offer. Once we do, our bargaining committee will decide the next step."

The CAW represents 5,000 intermodal, clerical, maintenance workers on strike since Feb. 20.

CN broke off contract talks Sunday after taking improved contract offers off the table. The impasse has slowed intermodal traffic and forced shippers in some cases to switch to trucks.

Intermodal shipments fell more than 45 percent and total volume by 14 percent during the week of Feb. 22-28, industry data showed.

-- Courtney Tower in Ottawa