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Canadian Pacific Railway trains stop during ongoing labor dispute

CP transports grain, ethanol, potash and crude oil across Canada and the Midwest, and services grain elevators across North Dakota and Minnesota.

Canadian Pacific Railway
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GRAND FORKS — Canadian Pacific Railway and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, the union that represents around 3,0000 employees at CP, are blaming each other for a work stoppage that started on Sunday, March 20.

CP transports grain, ethanol, potash and crude oil across Canada and the Midwest, and services grain elevators across North Dakota and Minnesota.

In February, TCRC members voted 96.7% to authorize a strike, scheduled for March 16, sparking a session of negotiations with a federal moderator last week. After negotiations about wages, benefits and pensions for workers failed last week, CP announced its plan to lock out employees on March 20 , unless an agreement was reached.

Now, CP says TCRC initiated the work stoppage after failing to respond to an offer presented by the company and pulling services before CP’s lockout.

“We are deeply disappointed that, in the final hours before a legal strike or lockout was to potentially occur, the TCRC Negotiating Committee failed to respond to the company’s latest offer that was presented to them by the federal mediators,” said Keith Creel, CP president and chief executive officer in a release on March 20. “Instead, the TCRC opted to withdraw their services before the deadline for a strike or lockout could legally take place. The TCRC is well aware of the damage this reckless action will cause to the Canadian supply chain.”


TCRC says the union was at the bargaining table until CP’s lockout deadline, and that CP followed through with the lockout as promised.

“We are very disappointed with this turn of events," said Dave Fulton, TCRC spokesperson at the bargaining table, in a release. “Canadian Pacific management must be taken to task for this situation. They set the deadline for a lockout to happen (Sunday night), when we were willing to pursue negotiations.”

Becker Transports of Wadena, Minnesota, started in with a 1985 Mack Superliner bought in 2010. A dozen years later, that ‘85 Mack is still putting in the miles as Becker Transport has grown into a regional trucking company, hauling loads like farm machinery, construction equipment, gravel and grain across the upper Midwest.

Ahead of Sunday’s work stoppage, CP and U.S. grain elevators were bracing for potential impacts. In anticipation of a lockout or strike, CP made contingency plans with U.S. grain elevators, which send grain to feedlots in Alberta. Kevin Peach, manager of the Farmer’s Elevator of Honeyford, said CP has placed empty train cars at the elevator near Gilby, North Dakota, so that once the railway is running again, grain can be loaded and shipped.

“I don’t believe, at this point at least, that we will have a tremendous amount of bad fallout from it, just because we had time to prepare,” he told the Herald last week.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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