AH – 64




(the “Company”)



(The “Union”)




SOLE ARBITRATOR:       J. F. W. Weatherill



There appeared on behalf of the Company:

(not listed)


And on behalf of the Union:

(not listed)



A hearing in this matter was held at Montreal on November 12, 1970.



This matter arises out of the inability of the parties to agree that adequate safety can be maintained with a reduced consist of one yard foreman and one yard helper for crews working at Woodstock, Ontario.

This matter arises pursuant to article 135A of collective agreement 4.16, which establishes a procedure for determining which yard crews may be operated with a reduced consist, and provides certain benefits for employees affected by such a determination. Where the parties are unable to agree on the reducibility of a crew, the matter may be referred to arbitration, the issue being whether adequate safety can be maintained with the proposed crew consist reduction. The parties are agreed that this matter is properly before me pursuant to this article.

At the hearing of this matter, the Union contended that the matter should be dismissed, on the ground that the Company’s representative had not been properly positioned during the survey period. It seems that throughout most of the survey period the Company’s representative had ridden in the cab of the engine. It may well be, as the Union contended, that from that vantage point one could not obtain a sufficiently complete record of the moves made by the yard crew or of the problems encountered. This is not, however, a ground for concluding that the Company’s application must fail. If the survey is inadequate, the effect of that will be that the Company’s own case may not stand up. It must be remembered that the Union also had a representative on the survey, and if he was more effectively positioned, then his observations would be entitled to more weight than those of the Company’s representative. That is, any shortcomings on the part of the Company’s representative during the survey would affect the weight to be given his report, but do not go directly to the question of the merits of the proposed crew reduction. As to that, the collective agreement requires the Union to set out reasons why, in its opinion, the assignments in question could not be carried out by a reduced crew with adequate safety.

In the instant case, the Union advanced three reasons why the assignment could not be carried out by a reduced crew. It was the Union’s contention that it was not restricted in its presentation to these three matters, but it is my view, having regard to the requirements of the collective agreement, that it must be so restricted. The Company is entitled to know what points it will have to meet at the hearing, and there can be no prejudice to the Union in being required to formulate its views after consideration of the survey data. In the instant case, I will deal with the matter on the basis of the three reasons given by the Union The third of these has been treated in a very broad way, as encompassing a variety of situations. In this it may be that it goes beyond what the collective agreement calls for, but the Company was nevertheless prepared to deal with the matter on that basis, and this was done at the hearing.

The first matter raised by the Union was that the assignment operated over double track, and that flagging would be necessary in the event of derailment or crossing accident. No doubt flagging would be necessary in such a case, but I am unable to conclude that this would require a three-man crew. There are many instances where less-than-three-man crews operate a double track territory, but quite apart from these, it can only be said that the possibility of flagging situations arising is not the sort of matter what would call for the requirement of a three-man crew as an essential factor in safe operation over that territory. This objection, therefore, simply cannot be sustained.

The second matter raised by the Union is that there are a number of public crossings along that section of the trackage in question known as the Hickson Spur, and that these require protection. It may be remarked that the number of crossing is not particularly significant: it is what must be done at each of them that matters, as the question is whether the procedures necessary require a three-man crew. It is clear to me that they do not. Where the engine is at the head of the movement, then in situations where it may be necessary for a crew member to precede the engine into the crossing, one man could do so, giving the necessary signals directly to the engineman. On a back-up movement, where a caboose is leading; one yardman in control of the air brakes and back-up hose can control the movement. Even if a second crew member were needed for such moves, there appears to be no necessity for a third.

The third matter raised by the Union is that “traders tracks are very old in most cases … which makes it very difficult to relay signals due to overhang and curvature of track”. The only example given is that of track going to the Purina Company. In the case of particular example, a study of the material before does not reveal any necessity for a third crew member, at least where eight cars or less are handled. The Company has indicated that it would issue the appropriate instructions to cover that limitation when a reduced crew is operated. There is an embankment on the north side of the tracks going into the Purina Company, and because of this there is not much room for a yardman to go wide to relay signals. Nevertheless, having regard to the nature of the track layout, I am satisfied that signals could be adequately relayed by a two-man crew. The necessity for a third man is simply not established. In its presentation at the hearing of this matter, the Union also referred to difficulties of switching at the Cullen Company, at Alcan Homes and at Kelsey-Hayes. In the case of the Cullen Company the situation is roughly similar to that at the Purina Company, although the tracks are to the south of the main line. The layout is such, however, that one man on the ground would have visual contact with the engineman throughout most of the moves required. There are no sight line obstructions, although it would appear these could arise if, for example, both of the tracks there were occupied. The situation is such, however, that one additional yardman relaying signals would be sufficient. There appears to be less substance to the objection in this case than in that relating to the Purina Plant.

Trackage to the Kelsey-Hayes plant is on a slight curve; at Alcan Homes the curvature is more pronounced. In both cases it seems the usual procedure is in fact to do the actual switching on those tracks with two men, leaving unneeded cars on the main track with the third yardman in attendance. In fact, the Kelsey-Hayes siding could be used to accommodate these cars, thus releasing the extra man. The Company has indicated it would issue instructions to this effect to two-man yard crews; the practice is already followed where a through main track movement is made.

The Company in its presentation at the hearing dealt with other switching locations where, in its view, switching could be carried on safely by a reduced crew. I do not find it necessary to deal with these, both for the reason set out earlier, and also because they were not dealt with in detail by the Union. From the material before me, the conclusion which must be drawn is that they could be handled in safety by a two-man crew.

For the foregoing reasons, it must be concluded that work on the territory in question may be carried out by a yard crew of a foreman and one helper. Any loss of productivity that may be caused in some situations is of course the Company’s responsibility.

DATED AT TORONTO, this 7th day of December, 1970.

 (signed) J. F. W. WEATHERILL