Labor relations at Canadian rail giants Canadian National and Canadian Pacific threaten to crimp US supply chains just as the congestion at the US west coast ports begins the recovery process. Canadian Pacific rail workers have been on strike for the past two weeks, hampering commuter and freight traffic in western Canada. Just as the Canadian Government prepares to force them back to work, Canadian National Railway announced it will lockout its employees beginning tonight if a labor agreement isn’t reached by then.
With the recent disruptions at US west coast ports, many companies have looked to Canada for relief on their east-bound container routes. The extended, and successful, labor action by the ILWU likely emboldened the Canadian unions to press their position, especially as the volume of freight from Vancouver began to swell. While the Canadian rail routes to the east coast no longer look as atttactive as they did a month ago, it will be four to eight weeks before the rail routes from the western US return to normal shipping volumes. Supply Chain executives will need to remain vigilant and reconsider US west coast ports for their freight lately moving through Canada.