CN today announced that earlier this week, it had formally offered the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) to enter into binding arbitration.

This process has a mutually agreed upon independent arbitrator settle the labour dispute by evaluating the demands of each side and deciding on the terms of the new collective agreement.

The TCRC has rejected all offers put to them and has now rejected a voluntary arbitration process.

Background on CN and TCRC Negotiations

CN initially attempted to modernize the collective agreement to improve work life balance for employees and productivity through scheduling and hourly wages. Currently, engineers and conductors do not work on a schedule and are paid on a legacy miles-based system.

As the union refused to negotiate substantively on this matter, CN made a simplified offer to the union in May that continued to be aligned with Government guidelines on work and rest and achieved some productivity gains. The union rejected this offer as well.

All offers align with the latest government regulations and Duty and Rest Period Rules (DRPR). Implemented in May 2023, DRPR specifically defines the requirements related to hours of work and rest periods for employees who are in positions designated critical to safe railway operations. Claiming they are unsafe is false.

Update on CIRB Process

Last week, CN and other parties took part in a case management conference organized by the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to discuss the Minister of Labour’s request for clarity on the continuation of activities during a work stoppage.

As part of this review process, the parties had until May 31, 2024, to submit their replies to the CIRB. The CIRB has now extended this deadline to June 14, 2024, and has asked that specific themes identified in the submissions filed by stakeholders be addressed in the replies.

As of right now, the CIRB has not indicated how long they will take to make a decision, and neither a strike nor a lockout can happen until then. A strike or lockout is unlikely to happen before mid to late July 2024. However, the CIRB’s request for clarity does not impact CN and the TCRC’s ability to continue bargaining.



  • By combining Duty Rest Period Rules and existing rest provisions in collective agreements, currently conductors and locomotive engineers work approximately 160 days a year on average.


  • In 2023, the average conductor earned approximately $121,000
  • In 2023, the average locomotive engineer earned approximately $150,000