RAC’s Brazeau Warns of Potential Labor Disruption in Canada

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
RAC President and CEO Marc Brazeau (RAC photo)

RAC President and CEO Marc Brazeau (RAC photo)

In a message to members of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILTNA), Railway Association of Canada (RAC) President and CEO Marc Brazeau warns of a potential railway labor disruption in Canada should negotiated outcomes between the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) and Class I railroads CN and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) not be achieved and asks members to provide comments that will help “accurately describe the immense economic impact.”

The full letter is below:

Fellow Industry Associations, 

As you may know, Canada’s Class 1 railways, CN and CPKC, are negotiating labor agreements with the TCRC which represent about 9,000 conductors and locomotive engineers at both companies. CPKC is also negotiating with TCRC-RTC which represent about 80 rail traffic controllers.

Should negotiated outcomes not be achieved, this could mean a Canada-wide rail service disruption as early as the week of May 21, 2024.

Canada’s railways carry $380B worth of goods each year and half of Canada’s exports. Thousands of businesses and communities rely on the rail network for their survival and prosperity. Should the railways stop operating – even for one day – economic trade will be impacted. Your members will be impacted. Canada’s global competitiveness will be impacted. Commuter and intercity passenger rail will be impacted. 

All Canadians will be impacted.

While we can quantify the value of products and commodities whose movement will be stalled, there will be a much broader and deeper commercial impact should this labor disruption occur.

We would like to hear from you and your members so that we can accurately describe the immense economic impact.

Please consult with your members and provide input on the following questions in the context of a possible supply chain disruption in the Canadian rail industry:

  1. What would be the impact of a Class 1 freight railway service outage on your sector/members? (Quantitative, e.g., in traffic volumes, trade disruption, dollars or jobs lost per day/week.)
  2. What would it mean for your members if freight railway service was halted for a day, two days, or a week? (Qualitative, e.g., in opportunities, risks and losses, future contracts, reputations jeopardized)
  3. Can you provide an example of a critical product or product movement that would be interrupted, and the resulting impact that it would have on the customer or market?

After years of disruption caused by a pandemic, natural disasters, other labor disruptions and political events both in Canada and around the world, North American supply chains – of which the railways are a key part – require stability and predictability. As a trading nation, an efficient and reliable transportation network is key to Canada’s economic growth and global competitiveness. 

Thank you in advance for your collaboration. Please send your comments to my colleague Kevin Mason at [email protected]

Marc Brazeau

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