More Money, More Time Off, More Predictability

  from CP Magazine Volume 11, 2016

SOO Line and DM&E engineers wanted more time off, more predictable rest days and higher wages. They got it all.


The recently signed five-year collective bargaining agreement between CP and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen on the Soo Line and the recently ratified agreement on the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad (DM&E) mean that these engineers, conductors and trainmen can make more money and improve their quality of life. They can even plan a night out with someone special and be able to keep their word.

Bob Guist, an engineer on the Soo Line for the past 11 years out of St. Paul says, “This is a big win for the company and the union. I honestly haven’t heard a single complaint. The majority of guys are seeing positive outcomes on their paycheques. It’s hard not to be happy about that.”

Guist explains that the give on the union’s behalf was ultimately common sense and fair trade for more consistent time off.

He says that prior to this agreement, if he brought his train to destination, and there was another train five miles away that needed a crew, CP would have had to pay him an additional $250 to work that other train even though he had six hours left in his shift.

“That’s on top of my regular hours. It just doesn’t make sense from a business perspective, and I get that. Personally, I look beyond the short term and don’t believe that I’m losing that $250. Regarding the long term, from a total business perspective, if we are controlling costs in a smart way, that equates to job security.”

This is exactly the type of agreement Myron Becker, Assistant Vice-President Labour Relations, spoke of in Canadian Pacific Magazine when he first joined CP two years ago.

Becker said, “There are things we’re prepared to do for our T&E personnel that would give 95 per cent of them more money than they earn today, combined with an improved lifestyle.”

Becker says that the recent contract is among his career highlights. “This hourly agreement demonstrates that we’ve come a long way with union leadership, which has enabled us to address our collective goals.”


Darin Stern, a fellow St. Paul engineer of 17 years says this agreement was overdue.

“It brings us into the twenty-first century and has taken us out of some old, confusing and archaic methods of compensation,” says Stern.

The most significant feature in Stern’s opinion is the time off.

He says that a locomotive engineer working on the road is guaranteed better work-life balance because they will now have at least two scheduled days off in eight. Before, there was no guaranteed time off. They were on call 24/7.

“Now, even people with low seniority have two days off in an eight-day period. I think that’s huge. When you improve quality of life, it usually makes people happy. If people are given the ability to spend more time with loved ones, it works to everyone’s benefit.”

Robert Johnson, Senior Vice President Operations, Southern Region, says the agreement is a win for everyone. “It gives us many more options to ensure that our network is increasingly efficient,” says Johnson, listing off the benefits. “Our employees have greater stability in terms of their quality of life, operations benefit from the improved clarity around working hours and ultimately, the shareholders will see the positive results of all of this improvement.”

For Johnson, this agreement is representative of the spirit of change seen throughout the company in recent years. “CP’s leadership was behind this process all the way; it was simply the right thing to do at the right time. My hat is off to Peter Edwards, Myron Becker and Dale McPherson, as well as the union executive and general chairs for working together to complete this important deal.”

Peter Edwards, Vice-President Human Resources and Labour Relations, says this labour agreement “has transformed the way that people interact with the company.” Edwards notes that this is about investing in our people and ensuring that we are doing so in a wiser fashion.

“We listened to what our employees wanted, and worked to create a deal that worked for everyone. This agreement is very ‘future-focused’ for CP. It’s a significant achievement that we should all take a lot of pride in.”

More Money, More Time Off, More Predictability |   CP Magazine Volume 11