CP Rail Shuts Down Due to Labor Dispute, Impacting Port of Vancouver

michael frei
CP Rail train crosses the Fraser at Siska, B.C., 2010 (Michael Frei / CC BY SA 4.0)

Published Mar 20, 2022 8:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

Canadian Pacific Railway, one of the two lines serving the Port of Vancouver, B.C., has shut down operations over a contract dispute. Both sides blamed each other for the shutdown, with the Teamsters accusing CP Rail of following through on an earlier lockout threat, and CP Rail accusing the Teamsters of walking out several hours before the lockout could happen. 

“We are very disappointed with this turn of events," said Dave Fulton, a Teamsters Canada Rail Conference spokesperson. “Canadian Pacific management must be taken to task for this situation. They set the deadline for a lockout to happen tonight, when we were willing to pursue negotiations."

“We are deeply disappointed that, in the final hours before a legal strike or lockout was to potentially occur, the TCRC Negotiating Committee failed to respond to the company’s latest offer,” said Keith Creel, CP Rail's President and CEO. “Instead, the TCRC opted to withdraw their services before the deadline for a strike or lockout could legally take place."

The Teamsters' Dave Fulton said that the union was interested in exploring options for binding arbitration, but could not reach an agreement with CP Rail management on the terms. Wages and pensions remain major stumbling blocks, and hours and working conditions are an area of significant disagreement.

In the interim, CP said it is carrying out a "safe and structured shutdown" of its train operations across Canada. This includes service to and from the Port of Vancouver, where CP is one of two rail operators. 

The disruption is the third significant rail outage affecting the port in the past year. 

In mid-November, all rail operations at Port of Vancouver were halted by flooding and mudslides caused by an "atmospheric river" rain event. The weeklong deluge destroyed bridges and washed out trackbed, temporarily cutting off CP Rail and CN Rail service to and from Vancouver. 

In early July, a series of devastating wildfires swept through southern British Columbia, damaging sections of track and filling valleys with dense smoke. CN Rail was briefly forced to route its trains over CP Rail trackage, creating a bottleneck for service.