The company, the largest Canadian railroad operator, offered the Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference a binding arbitration, which the union declined, CN’s Chief Operating Officer Rob Reilly said in a statement.
“If a settlement cannot be reached this weekend, we will once again encourage the union leadership to accept binding arbitration as an alternative to disrupting the Canadian economy,” Reilly said.
“We remain committed to constructive talks to reach an agreement without a work stoppage,” he added.
The union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Canada, one of the world’s biggest exporters of farm products, relies on its two main railways to move canola and wheat over the vast distances from western farms to ports. Crude oil shippers in Alberta have also increasingly used trains in the past year to reach U.S. refineries as an alternative to congested pipelines.
CN’s estimated 3,000 conductors, trainpersons and yardpersons voted in favour of strike action in September, after negotiations failed to produce a contract. The previous collective agreement expired on July 23, 2019.
CN said on Friday it would cut management and union jobs, as it grapples with an economic slowdown. The company will lay off 1,600 employees in the United States and Canada, according to a report by the Globe and Mail.