Armstrong Gives NPA a Rocky Image

Vancouver’s Vision civic party has sure ruffled many feathers …well beyond those backyard chicken coops they’ve allowed in the city. But those who believe Vision  could,  or should see defeat,  on the horizon may also not like what they see at the only competition: Vancouver’s Non-Partisan Association.

The NPA’s campaign chairman and manager, Peter Armstrong,  is also  CEO of Rocky Mountaneer railtours, that has been using scabs to replace 108 workers the company locked out since June .  And no negotiations or arbitration are on this rocky railroad’s schedule.

Some may argue that Armstrong’s business activities or interests have nothing to do with his role as a citizen participating in the political process: but I would disagree.  I don’t believe ANY political organization can choose its campaign head without considering his or her “baggage” … and Armstrong’s labour relations baggage contains some real hazardous waste and could no doubt carry with it some very heavy freight charges for the NPA in the coming civic lection.

And this view of mine goes well beyond my own history as a proud union member and CEP Local M-814 Vice-President: it’s about fairness and the many proper processes available to solve labour disputes, whether it’s teachers, paramedics or rail workers … not just hire scabs to do their work.

Vancouver, after all, is still more a city of working people and working families than upper end managers and millionaires. And you don’t have to be a union member to believe locking out staff and hiring scabs to replace them is not the way to go … as opposed to negotiations, conciliation, arbitration or binding arbitration.

But Rocky Mountaineer locked out its staff in July and brought in scabs it reportedly hired through Craigslist  to take over their jobs. It’s gotten pretty ugly since, with the union, Teamster Local 31 , being found in contempt of court in August for incidents on the picket line. And there is no sign that resumption of talks or arbitration are on anyone’s timetable … with the scabs enabling the trains to run on time.

The NPA of course has nothing to do with the labour fight itself,  and I pass no judgement on which side is right in the dispute … but I have to ask myself does Armstrong and Rocky Mountaineer’s handling of this labour dispute represent the best the NPA has to offer as a campaign chair who reflects the civic party’s philosophy and ideology towards workers and management?

In Canada we far too often toss the “bums” out in elections but replace with with another set of “bums”  who also disappoint, exasperate and disrespect us … yet in the meantime have a full term in office to impose  changes we never voted for,  reward friends and make us wish we hadn’t voted for them.

So, is the NPA just another group of Gordon Campbell types who see nothing wrong with making a farce of real labour negotiations, hiding their true anti-worker, anti-middle class colours, plans and big business agenda just until they get elected? Will they disrespect the voters just the way the Liberals have?

These are …and should be …real concerns and issues.

Yet, remarkably (or maybe not anymore) the Vancouver media have almost ignored and have certainly not pursued  the HOT issues surrounding the campaign chair of a party that could take over take over City Hall in a few months:. And  is using scabs to replace his staff!

I can tell you this WOULD be a huge issue in Montreal or Toronto, where the media do not mostly play dead when it comes to covering civic politics.

Civic election day is Nov. 19  and judging by Vision’s bull-in-a-China shop record of bike lanes,  chickens in back yards, garden plots on the lawn of city hall, farcical  “public consultation” processes, the Olympic Village fiasco and all those invitations to “come on down” to the city core for the Stanley Cup, you might think the NPA would be looking pretty good as an alternative.

Unless you despise strike-breaking scabs … and don’t want to vote to support those who apparently think hiring them is fine.

Harv Oberfeld

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31 Responses to Armstrong Gives NPA a Rocky Image

  1. cherylb says:

    But it won’t be a huge issue here. Our media continue to snooze and attempt to tell “us”what the stories are.

    It is a clear sign from the NPA that they think it is perfectly acceptable to have a man with such poor judgement act a campaign chair. Anyone voting for these people will certainly know what they are voting for and will get what they deserve.

  2. DonGar says:

    So I take it you support Vision and Cope councillors writing a letter against Rocky Mountain as City officials? Should they have not remained neutral? As you have implied the NPA are big business because of Mr. Armstrong so I must, using your logic, conclude Vision and Cope are big union.

    1. URGENTLY WANTED A MAYOR AND COUNCIL FOR VANCOUVER
    QUALIFICATIONS:
    • Honesty, accountable
    • Integrity
    • Leadership
    • Independence (No union, business or special interest associations)
    • Fiscally responsible
    • Innovative
    • Problem solver
    • Consensus builder
    • Champion of open government
    • Common Sense
    Current council and Mayor need not apply as they fail to meet these qualifications.

    (Response: I have no objection to elected officials extending their support to locked out workers; Lord knows we’ve seen enough elected officials expressing their support for big business and industry on enough occasions! Of course, I’m aware of the sensitivities of the Vision/Cope councillors trying to make political hay out of Armstrong’s NPA affiliation and wish they’d be as openly criticial of their own role is setting the stage for the Stanley Cup riot. But Armstrong’s role in the NPA while his company locks out its workers IS worthy of comment and criticism. h.o)

  3. Chuckstraight says:

    Have to agree with you- unfortunately the legislation (federal) allows the use of scabs. I took my own Con MP to task for this but to no avail.

  4. Diverdarren says:

    Well, if you want to see an example of government playing favorites towards corporations under the guise “it’s good for the country” this is it.

    2007, the fed tabled legislation for back to work laws for CN Rail, then just recently Can Post & Air Canada were threatened with back to work laws. The connection between these; the workers had the upper hand over the corporation Ta-da Fed’s to the rescue for the corp.

    Now Rocky Mountaineer, the corp has the advantage with scabs, so you won’t hear a word from the fed’s about any back to work legislation. Every time the gov legislates workers back to work there should also be binding arbitration in the law. It’s the only fair way to balance out governments inherent conflict of interest.

    My question is; aren’t the engineers unionized, & are they crossing the picket line?

    (Response: Good question. I’ll ask. h.o)
    UPDATE: The locomotive engineers are all retirees…hired independent contractors, so not actual union members, BUT they are union pensioners. Apparently the big disappointment from the Teamster union’s point of view is that the “culinary staff” on board, members of the Canadian Auto Workers Union have crosssed their picket line from day one: they probably would have been ordered back to work, but at least a gesture of support by refusing to cross without a labour board or court order would have been nice. h.o)

  5. DonGar says:

    Harvey,

    Sorry you didn’t answer my question. If NPA are big business are Vision and Cope therefore big union?

    And my help wanted includes Anton need not apply as well as most of the NPA candidates. We need fresh sheet.

    (Response: I don’t know if NPA ARE big business… but I think the working (I’m retired) media should start asking and report exactly who’s interests they represent. Same with Vision/COPE. The public can then decide for themselves whether each is good or bad based on the answers … BEFORE we vote. h.o)

  6. BG says:

    The Vancouver Sun doesn’t even have a “politics” section, I’m not sure where voters are supposed to find relevant information and facts to help them decide who to vote for (besides this blog of course).

    Perhaps expecting facts and information from the mainstream press is too much to ask for. I don’t expect IBM, Shell, BP or Microsoft to provide me with useful information why should I expect anything from the Vancouver Sun, the Globe and Mail or any other corporate rag?

    If voters are given correct information and facts we’ll have a healthy democracy, if voters are given nothing we’ll have what we have now.

    (Response: Even this blog is woefully inadequate in that regard: it’s just a hobby for me … to raise questions, express opinions and try to “keep it real” as best as a retired news guy can … in between my vacation getaways. What we really need is lot more tough questions and RESEARCH by the MSM and even local community papers about who’s behind the various municipal groups around the province and press them each to say what they stand for before we vote, h.o)

  7. Mo says:

    Using Scab workers will never wash with vancouver voters. Armstrong and NPA will be be also-rans.

  8. Rocker Rich says:

    Yeah the Mountaineer Man definitely has baggage.

    Not to worry, though. Despite enough bucks to finance some radio spots, the NPA could only muster several dozen supporters to their annual meeting this week.

    Gregor will hardly work up a sweat if Suzanne Anton is the NPA challenger.

    Lest we forget, Ms Anton was apparently focussed not on security but, rather, the lack of mimes and stilt walkers to entertain outdoor Canucks fans when Vancouver City Council debated the merits of permitting them to assemble downtown for each Stanley Cup game.

  9. Gary says:

    Even though you are retired Harvey, the fact remains that you and others in the blogosphere are stuck with the job of bringing us the true news. IMHO you, Alex, Laila,and Norm ( just to mention a few ) do an excellent job of this. With out you guys and girls we would have no idea of what is really going on in this province. I and I would imagine , a lot of others thank you for this. Keep up the good work.

    (Response: Thanks. As you know I have no ads on the site, no donation button despite living on a non-c.o.l.a., no medical, no dental no visdion coverage Global pension- (so far 🙂 , no financial contributions of any kind from any source…so it’s just for fun, keeping me involved, keeping it real for politicians and the media, and my way of helping provide a forum. The only problem: it’s become so popular, I feel guilty when I go away and travel! But I’m still going …next break in October. h.o)

  10. Ted Noakes says:

    Harvey, thanks for mentioning the lockout here. I am a former onboard and have lots of friends on the line. You aren’t taking sides as you point out so I won’t delve into what the issues are. But one of your followers asked a couple of question I can help out with.

    I will clarify that the lockout started on June 22.

    One asked about aren’t rail workers unionized. They are but due to federal regulation they can be fired for refusing to run Rocky Mountaineer trains on crossing the picket line. This is one of the few areas where a union member can legally be fired for refusing to cross another union members picket line. I think this is transport Canada law.

    Honestly, they have been trying to get PR but they have had very little in mainstream print media. The letter from the councilors came from the onboards begging for someone to hear their story as in this situation with replacement workers there was no pressure what so ever for the company to engage in the collective bargaining process. Sorry I started getting into. I will stop and say thanks on their behalf for the mention

  11. CMac says:

    Just to clarify, there are 108 locked out attendants, they were locked out on June 22 and yes, engineers are crossing picket lines. Cab companies are crossing picket lines. The cooks onboard the train are CAW union members and are crossing picket lines. The list goes on.

  12. Ted Noakes says:

    Harvey, I am re-posting as my previous post was full of bad grammar. Please feel free to delete it.

    Harvey, thanks for mentioning the lockout here. I am a former onboard and have lots of friends on the line. As the intent of your post wasn’t to take, I won’t delve into the issues. A couple of questions though raised by you and commenters here I can answer however.

    I will clarify that the lockout started on June 22.

    One asked about unionized rail workers. This is one of the few exceptions where they can be fired for refusing to cross another union’s picket line. I believe this is transport Canada regulation. I have talked to some whom have already inquired regarding whether they could as a show of support. I have the sense they would like to.

    I know the onboards appreciate a mention here. It was the lack of media attention which prompted them to seek out councilors to shed light on their situation. Was there perhaps some political expediency for the Vision councilors to do so? Well I would guess they were acting out of a place of good conscience. the target of their letter was perhaps the main motivation, but it is perhaps didn’t hurt!

    Thanks again Harvey!

  13. Locked-Out says:

    Thank you for your article Mr. Oberfeld. I am one of the 108 attendants locked out for the past 86 days. I am pleased to see many of our points of frustration addressed in your article.

    It simply blows my mind that Mr. Armstrong thinks Vision is USING his locked-out attendants as pawns against him in the political arena. When you are involved in politics, EVERYTHING is open for scrutiny. How Mr. Armstrong thinks that he should be above such scrutiny is beyond me.

    The company had a choice in this situation, the union requested a one month extension on our strike vote in order that we continue to negotiate (even though a $200 million company asking its attendants to take a 2% wage decrease after coming off a 3 year wage freeze doesn’t seem like good faith bargaining). The company said no to our request, we therefore had to use our strike vote and the company then locked us out. We are seasonal workers, for the company to honestly think that we would walk off the job is laughable. The company says they want to negotiate and yet they have not returned to the negotiation table in over 60 days.

    91% of attendants have been with this company for a minimum of 5 years, some have up to 22 years. This is a career for most. We have worked hard to make this trip one of the top train tours in the world. WE are the faces of this company, used in their promotional materials and advertising. It certainly feels like now that the company has won all these awards and accolades for OUR service, they would like to use them to move forward but substitute the awarding winning service with inexperienced scab labour. Guests now find themselves paying full price for discount service. I have also noticed that in the advertisements and articles written this year about RMV, the award winning service isn’t even mentioned. Meanwhile, for the previous many, many years that has been a key selling point. At least by way of omission, the company is admitting that scab service is definitely not award winning service. Never mind the fact that the company neglects to advise most guests before arrival that there is a labour dispute going on. And of course no refunds are offered. This was the company’s choice yet it is the dedicated onboard attendants and the guests that are paying the price. Short term loses for long term gains, that’s a pretty big gamble.

    At the head of all this is Mr. Armstrong, ready to step into the political arena. Is this really the type of person people would want to see affiliated with office?

    (Response: If your facts are as stated …it makes the lockout even more disgusting. Asking people to take a cut after a three-year freeze in inexcusable unless the company is losing money …and I haven’t seen any hint of that. It makes the NPA/Anton link even more questionnable … if only the media would start asking questions!!!! h.o)

  14. Fiona Hughes says:

    To all the folks who complain about a lack of coverage of civic politics in Vancouver media—do you read the Vancouver Courier? I’m biased of course, as I’m the assistant editor, but I’ve read far too many comments such as these on so many blogs and comment sections I felt the need to finally respond myself. Read the darn paper or go to the website if you live outside the city. Our city hall reporter Mike Howell does an excellent and balanced job of what goes on at 12th and Cambie. As for this story, here’s at least one we wrote (back in July.) Many letters ensued.
    http://www.vancourier.com/news/Train+company+accuses+Vancouver+city+councillors+meddling+lockout/5174214/story.html

    (Response: Good point. And you are correct about local community papers …I often read them and in a recent comment, even listed Mike Howell as one of the media reporters I considered quite good. Unfortunately, too many people still depend on the dailies, the radio and tv news for their coverage … and are being badly served when it comes to political reporting…civic coverage in particular. h.o)

  15. Richard says:

    Harvey, Harvey Harvey…. It’s a brave new world out there! The employer has the upper hand. I myself, as a Canada Post Union worker who was handed my scalp as government legislation shut down our lockout/strike. I myself as a Hospital Employee’s Union worker was mandated a 15% cut in wages by government legistation last time they went on strike. This is now a new world. Unemployed people (unskilled) everywhere have no sympathy for any person making over $20.00 dollars an hour not to mention (gasp) benefits. Gone are the days of solidarity. Every (single) person for themselves! Dog eat dog world! Corporations and governments know that today. Who wouldn’t trade an entry level job for one that pays more money and includes a benefit plan to boot? The Air Canada Flight Attendents are now in a position to inflict a great amount of unnecessary pain upon themselves thinking they cannot be replaced! Harvey, we can all be replaced. It’s up to the individual person to postion themselves in todays economy in a way that will give them the most value for their worth. Nothing other than higher education will provide a person that comfort. Good luck to us all!

    (Response: That’s all only true if you let it be that way. Working perople will NEVER win fair wages or working conditions if they just roll over and don’t fight for themselves. Most labour negotiations are settled without disruptions, most disruptions are settled within a reasonable amount of time, and although those that languish hurt both the workers and the companies, most end up being settled as well ..because the companies lose more $$$$ than the workers.. I have no doubt that Rocky Mountaineerr is losing potential business from both union and no -union customers (word does get around); Rlocky Mountaineer will pay a long term price in poor employee morale, stressful relationships between locked out employees and scabs after it’s over …and the NPA WILL lose votes because of this issue, even if they pretend they will not. h.o)

  16. BG says:

    In response to Fiona Hughes of the Courier:

    The Courier is a darn good little community newspaper – it seems to have great writers and journalists and covers civic politics and local news pretty well.

    The Courier is capable of competing with the likes of the Vancouver Sun and the Province – I’d like it if the writers of the Courier would put their talents to covering provincial, national and international current events.

    That probably won’t happen though – the Courier won’t compete with the Vancouver Sun because according to Wikipedia the two newpapers have the same owner – Postmedia Network. Postmedia Nework owns almost all the newpapers in BC and is headquartered in Toronto. Allowing one branch of the corporation waste energy and resources competing directly with another branch of the corporation would not be profitable.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmedia_Network#Newspapers

    Our newspapers have been monopolized and are controlled by big business, from the top down – even the little Courier.

    The Courier may have great writers and editors but the owners suck, and the owners call the shots. The owners will keep the Courier a tiny little newspaper that only covers civic politics.

    I’m not sure what the solution to a corporate controlled, monopolized free press is, but I think people should be aware that the information that appears in local newspapers, on local radio stations and on local TV is controlled by one or two large corporations based in Toronto.

    The blogs are providing competition to the mainstream press and that’s hopeful.

  17. Diverdarren says:

    Thanks for the update to my question about the engineers.

    That’s a shame they have lost their loyalty now they are pensioned off, oh well not much can be done about that. Perhaps a little public naming and shaming is in order.

    As for the CAW not showing solidarity, I wonder how much of that is “sour grapes” over the locked out workers switching unions from CAW to Teamsters 31.

  18. Henri says:

    BG in part said, Sep 17, 2011 at 4:27 am
    The blogs are providing competition to the mainstream press and that’s hopeful.
    —————————————–
    True, but the problem will be is these same monopolies will not allow this trend to continue.
    Under the guise of national security or some other concocted excuse they will gain control of the Internet through government regulations via CRTC , its in the works as I write this comment.

  19. Ted Noakes says:

    Sorry Darren if I made it seemed though they had lost their loyalty. I would suggest that the union guys running the train to the contrary HAVEN’T lost their loyalty to the union cause. The opposite. I am sure that the second that the law allowed them to choose to cross or not most of them would show their support and not run those trains. Talking to people on both sides, there is a great deal of understanding.

    The CAW one is interesting. Unfortunately, the cooks who ARE CAW are not Rocky Mountaineer employees. They are employees of a private catering company that Rocky hires to prep all the meals ahead of time, then re-heat them. They cook the protein only. They are worried that if they cross then Rocky will simply hired a different company. Mind you….all they would have to do would be to refuse to cross ONCE. There is no way the trains would be able to leave without the cooks aboard. That could very well get Rocky back to the table. Although, it seems from the outset that they have been ready for this and I would imagine the PR machine would go into full force to claim that the workers had decided to stop the train because they are greedy.

  20. Rob says:

    Mr. Peter Armstong and his company have donated $266,486.00 to the BC Liberals in the last six years. Does that tell you anything?

    (Response: Well, he certainly is “community-minded”! h.o)

  21. 13 says:

    Harvey, I wish you could sink your teeth into the Port of Vancouver. They are a huge part of Vancouvers economy and they are doing the same thing as the owner of that sightseeing train. They allow scabs to work on Port property. They have instituted a license scheme that takes away almost every basic right that workers in Canada enjoy.

    Having said that, in this day and age it might be impossible to find people to work in the political arena that dont have baggage attached.

  22. Brian says:

    Is RMRT breaking the law?
    Have the Teamsters been charged with contempt of court?
    Who is John Galt?

    (Response: I don’t think hiring scabs is against the law … just a disgusting alternative to honest bargaining, conciliation, arbitration. I wrote in the blog that the Teamsters WERE found guilty of contempt …did you read it? Ask John Galt who he is. Your point in all this? h.o)

  23. 13 says:

    Harvey it sounds like Brian is happy that scabs are working at RMRT.

    The Teamsters are a much better union than the CAW. Anyone (and I am one) that has left the Teamsters to go to the CAW soon regrets that decision.

    So if the Teamsters have been found guilty of contempt of court its because they have the guts to do what the CAW only dreams about.

    As for supporting the scabs at RMRT I hope that the dispute is settled and the scabs can go home to the praries where they belong.

  24. Colin says:

    Well written Harvey. I believe that the individual’s non-political activities provide a window into how we can expect them to conduct their political lives.

    Many commenters are lamenting the loss of power of the trade union and worker… Not to worry, that power swings just like a pendulem. Sooner or later we’ll return to the 1970’s era labour environment, where union leaders will once again be able to shut down entire industries at their will.

    (Response: I was never a radical activist union supporter and for years opposed one at BCTV because it wasn’t needed: the owners and management treated the staff and the product with respect. I believe that all changed after Frank Griffith’s death and his widow Emily decided to sell off her husband’s dream for cold hard cash ..and the place went further and further downhill from then on in terms of quality and management style …until most of us in the newsroom felt there was a terrific need for a union. I can’t imagine working in most of today’s companies without one …as far as job security, health benefits and pension are concerned. I will always support those brave enough to unionize…. although I think the days of controlling whole industries are long gone. ho)

  25. Norm Farrell says:

    I recall fondly the first days of The Elector’s Action Movement (TEAM) founded in 1968 by Art Phillips and Walter Hardwick.

    There were many issues of civic planning under public discussion and yet mostly the debate was intelligent and respectful. I don’t associate either of those two words with today’s NPA, the would-be opposition party.

    Today’s NPA is a small coterie of petty politicos skulking in the shadows, funded from petty cash of investor/developers always keen to exercise influence at City Hall.

    (Response: Ahh! Memories! I covered Vancouver City Hall, along with Hall Leiren,for the Sun in the early 70s, when Gordon Campbell was assistant to the mayor! TEAM was a very popular middle of the road movement …something I believe is certainly missing from the civic scene today. This coming civic election, I get the feeling voters will choose whichever they think would be the lesser of two extremes. TEAM would wipe the floor with Vision, COPE and the NPA. h.o)

  26. Brian says:

    The point I make is RMRT is playing by the rules and the Teamsters are not. The ‘something for nothings’ may be unhappy at this but themselves the breaks, go get the rules changed if you can. Also according to AGT (Alex) ‘A hearing has been set for October 20th, when further sanctions and new penalties may be decided by the judge. The range of possible options includes serious fines, revisitation of previous court orders and costs of proceedings.’ So there is more to come against those who try to advance thier position with bully tactics. Pity the poor slobs who fall for this.

  27. Save Vancouver says:

    I have to laugh that anyone thinks union rhetoric resonates with anyone in Vancouver beyond teachers and hospital employees anymore. Your “average working” Vancouverite doesn’t belong to a union and doesn’t have much sympathy for them. And give the amount of $1.5 million bungalows in this city, the very idea that your average Vancouverite is a stereotypical blue collar worker is farfetched.

    (Response: You don’t have to be a union member or union supporter to find it totally distasteful for any company to lock out workers and hire scabs …rather than negotiating or going to arbitration to settle the dispute. And I do believe for the NPA to have the CEO of such a company as its campaign chair WILL hurt them among potential voters … union and non-union. h.o)

  28. Max says:

    The union put the company on notice of intent to strike in April and are surprised measures were taken to mitigate possible disruption to planned travel by clients?

    Are you serious?

    What did they think would happen when they tell the company they are going to strike?

    The only nieve ones here are the union members. If they thought that they were going to bring the company to its knees well then you played the game, you took your chances. Not happy with the outcome – my guess, bad advice from your union rep.

    Lots of people are looking for jobs, if you don’t like the one you have, you have the option of moving on.

    FYI – I see RMRT donated to the new Union Gospel Mission facility in Vancouver.

    Good on him!

    (oh, and the letter from one of the striking workers over on AGT’s site – it pretty much paints the picture of what many of consier as typical fromunion members)

  29. Barry says:

    If the onboards tipped out the kitchen staff as is customary in the hospitality industry, instead of being so greedy maybe you would get more support. As it is, you get what you deserve.

  30. Pauline says:

    Peter Armstrongs valid reasons for locking out employees. They receive 16.59 an hour plus a bonus of 15 percent added onto the fare split among the staff, plus an envelope handed out at end of trip, garners 400 to 700 additional dollars a month for each employee of said trip. dental and medical paid for plus two free trips per year for friends or family members plus food and open bottles of wine that cannot be refrozen or recorked shared among the staff. Their hotel room paid for at end of trip, can be updated to double for friends and family members plus most of them go on unemployment insurance thru the winer months, cushy job, work seven months of the year go on unemployment five months of the year. These greedy employees, biting the hand that feeds them, got what they deserved. The vision and cope members should not have interfered and I and my friends will not be voiting for them in upcoming election.

  31. On The Line says:

    Barry (Train Manager?)…

    Years ago during a contract negotiation gratuities were offered to Onboard Attendants in lieu of a wage increase.

    Many of the culinary staff worked for Kamloops Catering, the previous train caterer. Their employee handbook stated that grats were not a part of their wage.

    Supported by onboard attendants the culinary staff joined their own union and are currently working under an old, expired contract. They have been unable to negotiate a wage increase or improvements with the current caterer, Rocky Mountain Catering.

    The culinary staff have not offered any support to the locked-out onboard staff.

    Pauline…

    An Onboard Attendant may work one thousand hours in a summer season. Most do not, working an average of seven hundred and fifty.

    Grats are not automatic and vary considerably from one trip to the next. They are not guaranteed.

    Attendant’s provincial medical services premium (mandatory medical insurance) is paid during the summer season. In addition they receive an additional three hundred or five hundred dollars towards medical services of their choice (a Canadian federal government program called a health care spending account), the amount dependant upon their years of service. No other benefits – sick leave, pension, disability – are received. None.

    Senior attendants receive two free RedLeaf seats each season. Most, however, only receive a discount towards a trip.

    Nothing may be taken off the train… not a candy bar, bottle of water, leftover food, even a newspaper. Removing wine would be considered theft and grounds for immediate dismissal.

    Negotiations are about seniority and scheduling, not just a wage increase. Scheduling transparency is desperately needed. Overtime is as much about preventing the schedule from being manipulated as is the increase itself.

    Single room accommodation has been in the contract since the Company’s inception in 1990. A trip may be forty-five hours away from home, often much longer. Sleep is essential… not only from a guest service perspective but also from a safety perspective. The 2006 train derailment is but one example.

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