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Vote to officially end CN strike extended to April
OTTAWA -- The United Transportation Union, which represents about 2,800 CN workers who went on strike for two weeks last month, says the ratification vote on the tentative agreement it signed with the railway has been extended. The union says the vote will take place on April 9, rather than on March 26, 2007. The deadline was postponed after union officials realized some union members had not received ballots. A review revealed that 617 recently hired CN employees and UTU members had been missed in the original ballot mailing. UTU Canadian Legislative Director Tim Secord acknowledged that extending the deadline adds to the insecurity surrounding the vote result which, "is far from certain." Secord says federal back to work legislation remains on the books and is expected to be moved ahead for quick passage if the ratification fails. The UTU opposes back to work legislation and its interference in the collective bargaining process. The union has been urging acceptance of the deal, which includes a 3 percent wage increase, $1,000 cash signing bonus, improvements in the extended health care and dental plans and a continuation of employee train pass privileges. According to UTU, former Canadian representatives of the union are trying to scuttle the tentative labor agreement with CN by mounting a Teamsters takeover of the U.S.-based union. Secord said last week he foresees "renewed uncertainty on Canadian and U.S. rail routes" due to inter-union rivalries and opposition from former Chairperson Rex Beatty, who is said to be campaigning aggressively to have members vote against the settlement. With Beatty's assistance, the Teamsters have applied for certification to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for the right to represent UTU Canada members.
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