Unifor auto sector leadership considering escalatory action amid CN’s use of scab labour at Autoport Halifax

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Three workers standing outside on a road blocking a vehicle holding a sign that reads warning scab labour ahead.

Unifor auto sector leadership are considering escalatory actions against Autoport, as the employer and its parent company CN Rail continue the use of scab labour.

“CN is showing blatant disrespect for its workers and their fundamental right to fair and free collective bargaining” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. “After convening a meeting of our auto sector leadership, CN may be about to learn a very hard lesson.”

The union convened a meeting on Friday March 22, 2024 to issue a letter of condemnation against CN and Autoport for the use of scab labour calling on both companies to immediately end the practice. The meeting consisted of Unifor’s Detroit Three bargaining committee Chairpersons and Vice-Chairpersons from Ford, General Motors and Stellantis as well as national union leadership representatives. Unifor Local 100 members at the CN-owned Autoport facility in Halifax, Nova Scotia have been on strike for a fair collective agreement since February 27, 2024.

“Autoport’s use of scabs is a deliberate effort to undermine our union and our members’ collective bargaining rights. This action is deplorable and must stop immediately,” said John D’Agnolo, Chairperson of Unifor’s Auto Sector Council. “Autoworkers will not sit idly by in this dispute. An injury to one is an injury to all.”  

The meeting also discussed taking potential action aimed at CN and Autoport should the use of scab labour continue.

“There is no incentive for any employer to bargain when they use scabs. None. This is how collective bargaining is undermined,” said James Stewart, Stellantis Master Bargaining Vice-Chairperson. “Bargaining is never easy, with both sides needing to put in the hard work to reach a fair agreement. Unifor is ready, but Autoport needs to get off the sidelines and back to the table.”

CN Rail notes on its website that it helps support the North American auto industry by moving finished vehicle and automotive parts across its vast logistical chain. These include Unifor built vehicles and parts.

“Enough is enough, scab labour has no place in society today. We have to send employers a strong message that workers cannot and will not allow the right to withdraw our labour be undermined anywhere,” said Jason Gale, GM Master Bargaining Chairperson. “If CN and Autoport want to continue with this despicable practice, then our job as trade unionists is to make them pay a heavy price for that decision.”

Unifor is planning to hold meetings with local presidents of Unifor auto plants in the near future to determine next steps in the Autoport dispute.