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CN and KCS reported that the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) and three local SMART-Transportation Division (SMART-TD) General Committees of Adjustment that represent CN’s U.S. employees have filed support letters with the STB:
According to CN and KCS, the General Chairman of each SMART-TD affiliate wrote “that their local unions ‘unequivocally support approval of CN’s voting trust.’” They represent SMART-TD General Committees of Adjustment GO-377 (representing more than 200 trainmen on CN subsidiary Grand Trunk Western), GO-433 (representing 800-plus trainmen employed on CN subsidiaries Illinois Central and Chicago Central & Pacific), and GO-987 (representing about 800 conductors on the Wisconsin Central Ltd. portion of CN).
These three General Committees of Adjustment statements, however, clash with that of the International SMART-TD, North America’s largest railroad operating union. SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson, in a June 14 letter, “urged” the STB to reject the voting trust agreement, writing, in part: “The approval of the CN voting trust by the STB would be risky for the railway industry and quite possibly will negatively impact our involved SMART-TD members. Approval of the CN voting trust proposal would harm employees of both KCS and CN due to the amount of debt CN will carry and the real possibility that the CN transaction would fail the regulatory test in the end.”
CN and KCS also noted what they are calling a “misrepresentation” from KCS’s rival merger partner Canadian Pacific (CP) in a June 12 STB filing by GO-987 General Chairman Kenneth J. Flashberger (see below). CN and KCS said CP “falsely claimed that it was a letter ‘express[ing] opposition to approval of CN’s voting trust. Despite Canadian Pacific’s misrepresentation, Mr. Flashberger’s letter is crystal clear that GO-987 supports approval of the CN-KCS voting trust.”
Why the inconsistency in SMART-TD support? Railway Age Capitol Hill Contributing Editor Frank N. Wilner, author of Understanding the Railway Labor Act, explains:
“There is much intrigue within the Transportation Division of SMART. The three General Chairpersons representing conductors on CN’s U.S. operations (Illinois Central, Grand Trunk Western and Wisconsin Central) were not informed in advance of the International’s opposition to a CN-KCS voting trust and merger. Separately, these three General Chairpersons—representing some 1,800 conductors—negotiated with CN a protective condition from having a less-favorable (in their opinion) KCS labor agreement imposed on them were the merger approved. In exchange for the protection, they agreed to support a CN-KCS merger.
“The International, however, which is fighting a crew consist issue with CN and KCS—along with all other Class I railroads except CP—threw its support to CP because CP is not party to national negotiations and is not currently seeking crew consist changes. All Class I’s except CP seek to reduce U.S. crew size from two to one under certain operating conditions (for example, on lines equipped with PTC) by eliminating many conductor positions.
“Interestingly, while the three CN General Committees represent some 1,800 conductors, CP’s U.S. operations (Soo Line and the former Milwaukee Road) employ only about 300 SMART-TD-represented conductors.”
CN and KCS said they “look forward to further comment from their stakeholders during the STB’s official public comment period on the voting trust application, which will be open until June 28, 2021, as they work toward gaining approval of their voting trust and completing their combination.”
This article first appeared on www.railwayage.com
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