ah – 12
IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION
Canadian National Railways
Canadian Brotherhood of Railway, Transport and General Workers
IN THE MATTER OF THE Rate of Pay for Express Waybill Writers
SOLE ARBITRATOR: Professor Bora Laskin, Q.C.
A hearing in this matter was held in July 1964.
This case arises out of the introduction by the Company of script billing in its express service in Toronto, first on an experimental basis in West Toronto beginning on June 3, 1963, and then on a permanent basis in both the West Toronto and Toronto express terminals on October 1, 1963. In consequence of this move, the Company proposed the establishment of three new classifications in substitution for existing ones and also proposed rates of pay for them, as follows:
Express Rater $368.10 per month
Scaleman-Writer $335.41 per month
Express Waybill Writer $322.04 per month
The rates proposed for express rater end scaleman-writer were acceptable to the Brotherhood but it challenged the propriety of the rate for express waybill writer in accordance with article 29.4 of the governing collective agreement 5.1 between the parties.
Script billing involves use of a merchandise receipt which is made out by the shipper in duplicate and one copy of which is delivered to the Company’s driver along with the shipment. The merchandise receipt contains all the relevant information on the shipment except the rate and the total charges for the transportation, and these are inserted on the receipt in the waybill room by an express rater. The duty of an express waybill writer is to transcribe the information on the merchandise receipt to a waybill by typewriter. Accuracy is, of course, essential, and in this respect the only complication may be presented by the illegibility of the writing on the merchandise receipt. In setting a rate of $322.04 for the work, the Company applied the formula prescribed in article 21.8 which states in part that "when changes in classifications and/or basic rates of pay are proposed, or when it is considered that a position is improperly classified or rated, the work of the position affected will be reviewed and compared with the duties and responsibilities of comparable positions ...with the object of reaching agreement on revised classifications and/or rates to maintain uniformity for positions on which the duties and responsibilities are relatively the same". In making this application, the Company was of opinion that the proper comparison was with the classification of typist for which the pay rate varies from: $298.67 to $309.72 per month, depending on the location. Following a protest from the Brotherhood, the Company agreed to accept comparability with the classification of clerk-typist which is paid a rate of $322.04 in 19 locations across Canada and a rate of $328.72 on only the Atlantic Region in the maritime area.
The similarity of the duties of an express waybill writer with those of a typist are fairly obvious. The clerk-typist performs clerical duties in addition to doing typing, and it is by reason of the additional clerical functions that the rate is higher than that for typists. The Brotherhood did not contest the accuracy of the Company’s assessment of the functions of a typist or clerk-typist, nor the accuracy of its specification of the duties of an express waybill writer, but took its stand on the comparability of the duties of an express waybill writer with those of a machine biller in the Toronto Simcoe Street freight office where the monthly pay is $342.10. Such a machine biller prepares waybills by transcribing information on manifests and bills of lading to waybill forms through use of a billing machine or electric typewriter. For its part, the Company does not contest the accuracy of this enumeration of duties nor does it dispute the comparability of the classification in its general operation. The difference between the parties turns on the fact that the machine biller in freight work is paid $342.10 in the Toronto Simcoe Street office but is paid $322.04 in 20 other locations, and the question is whether the Toronto rate should be the decisive one in assessing comparability for Toronto express waybill writers.
The Toronto Simcoe Street freight machine biller rate was previously an incentive rate, as it still is in Winnipeg, but by virtue of local dissatisfaction it was converted to a monthly rate which, the Company alleges, was improperly set at the time but was accepted to back up a local management decision. Be that as it may, I propose to treat it as a duly established monthly rate, which it now is, and to assess its relevance accordingly.
Article 29.5 refers to the arbitrator’s authority in connection with rate fixing for new classifications as embracing, subject to the agreement, the determination of whether or not a new wage rate "has been set properly within the framework of the Company’s established classification and rate setting procedure". There is, of course, no dispute before me on the establishment of the classification of express waybill writer as such. In acting under my authority so far as the wage rate for this classification is concerned, I am bound to accept the propriety of the present rate structure for the various comparable classifications upon which the Brotherhood and the Company relied. It is a fact that there are location rate variations for the same classifications, and, while there may be particular reasons for them, the problem here is not whether there should be any variation from an existing rate for an existing classification but what should be the proper new rate for a completely new classification.
In my view, the functions or duties of a classification must be the primary reference for comparability rather than location as such unless the classification is in some way peculiar to the location. There is no ground for holding that script billing and express waybill writers are relevant only to Toronto operations even though they are presently in force only in that location. There are experimental script billing operations going on elsewhere, but beyond this I am unable to conclude that the machine biller in freight work in Toronto is alone the comparable classification when both typist and clerk-typist functions are admittedly also comparable.
The national character of the relations of the parties cannot be ignored in arbitrating a rate issue in respect of a new classification which is not intended to have a particularly local operation. The weight of the evidence supports the position of the Company rather than that of the Brotherhood, and in the result the rate of $322.04 is confirmed and the grievance is denied.
Dated at Toronto this 17th day of August 1964.