CAW Members Approve VIA Deal

July 21, 2010, 3:01 PM EST

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CAW members at VIA Rail have voted 88 per cent in favour of a new collective agreement, in a series of ratification meetings held across the country over the last two weeks.

"This agreement is a major victory for VIA workers, especially in light of the many concessions initially demanded by the company," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. He congratulated the CAW master bargaining committee for their efforts during the difficult round of negotiations.

"Now we must turn our attention to pushing the federal government to properly support this important service which links our country from east to west," said Lewenza. "For many years, governments of the day have undervalued and underfunded VIA Rail, putting an ever-increasing strain on operations."

The three year agreement includes wage increases in each year; improvements to the benefit plan, including short-term and long-term disability, maternity leave; a new apprenticeship program for maintenance and for the first time, establishes health care spending accounts for retirees.

"I'm pleased that we were able to arrive at this agreement which enjoyed such high support from VIA workers," said CAW National Council 4000 Secretary-Treasurer Heather Grant, representing both the customer service and on-board service workers.

"Improvements to the collective agreement were important to our members, but equally important was finalizing the apprenticeship program for skilled trades which will be put into place in locations across the country," said CAW Local 100 President John Burns, whose local union represents maintenance workers.

The CAW is VIA Rail's largest union, representing 2,200 workers. The union reached the agreement with VIA on June 26.

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