IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION
BETWEEN : CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY COMPANY
AND UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION
AND IN THE MATTER OF A DISPUTE CONCERNING A PROPOSAL TO AMEND ARTICLE 57 OF COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT 4.16 ON SENIORITY DISTRICTS 12, CONSOLIDATED 13 AND 14, AND 15
BOARD OF REVIEW : J.F.W. Weatherill, Referee
G. W. McDevitt, Union Member
S. T. Cooke, Company Member
A hearing in this matter was held at Ottawa on May 13, 1977.
D. C. Fraleigh, for the Company
F. R. Oliver, for the Union
A W A R D
This matter arises as a result of the Company proposal made in November, 1975, as part of the contract renewal proposals for collective agreement 4.16. The Company sought amendment of article 57 of the agreement to provide for the qualification period for promotion of brakemen to conductor to be reduced from three years’ cumulative service to two years’ cumulative service for employees on the seniority districts in question, that is, Seniority Districts 12, Consolidated 13 and 14, and 15.
The parties subsequently renewed the collective agreement. There was no agreement, with respect to the seniority districts here in question, relating to the proposed amendments to article 57 : instead, the parties provided for further negotiations and for the establishment of a board of review which would, ultimately, be empowered to decide the matter, and thus to settle the terms of the collective agreement in this respect by a form of voluntary arbitration. The dispute now before this board is therefore in the nature of an "interest dispute" ; although it arises under a collective agreement, the issue is what shall be the terms of that agreement with respect to this particular matter.
Terms such as those proposed by the Company (that is, a reduction of the period of service as a brakeman necessary before an employee may qualify or be forced to qualify as a conductor) have been accepted by the Union with respect to other seniority districts. Similarly, a reduction of the qualifying period for promotion to yard foreman has been accepted with respect to all seniority districts, including those in question here. That is not to say, however, that a similar provision ought to be forced on the Union with respect to the seniority districts in question here, or at any rate that such a provision ought not, with respect to these seniority districts, to be made subject to certain qualifications. The Union’s submission in this case referred to a number of respects in which these seniority districts differ from others, and the board proposes to deal with this matter having regard to the particular characteristics of these districts, and to the proper interests of both parties.
The Company’s proposal to reduce the qualifying period is based on its need for qualified conductors for its operations. Conductors are the employees under whose direction trains are run (Rule 106, Uniform Code of Operating Rules). The position is one of serious responsibility. For many years, the collective agreement has contained a provision requiring that a person have worked for three years as a brakeman before qualifying as a conductor. It has apparently been accepted that a railroad employee, like anyone else, can be expected to learn and to mature with experience. While the Company does not denigrate the importance of experience, it contends that the requirement of three years’ experience can be reduced to a requirement of two years’ experience because of changes which have taken place in the nature of the work load, and because of the training programs which it now operates, both for newly-hired brakemen and yardmen, and for brakemen promoting to conductor.
There has certainly been no change in the nature of a conductor’s responsibility, and there can be no doubt that a conductor’s knowledge in terms of the Operating Rules and operating procedures must be extensive, or that he must have practical
familiarity with the operations for which he bears an important responsibility. The training now given to newly-hired brakemen and yardmen is, it seems, well-regarded by all concerned, and would, it can fairly be said, make the experience subsequently gained more meaningful and easier to assimilate. The training given those promoting to conductor would, again, make possible the quicker and more efficient assimilation of some of the knowledge which might more gradually be gained in daily experience. Finally, there has, to an important extent, been a reduction in the amount of "paper work" required of a conductor. This is, therefore, an aspect of such work on which it will be less necessary to gain experience.
There is, then, a case to be made for allowing the Company to help meet its personnel requirements through a reduction in the conductor’s qualifying period. In its submission to the board opposing such an amendment to the agreement, the Union raised a number of matters which we shall now deal with in turn. These matters relate either to the effect such an amendment might have on safety, or to the effects it might have on related working conditions. Having considered all of the material which the parties have put before it, it is the opinion of the board that a reduction of the conductor’s qualifying period from three years to two years can be made, subject to certain qualifications, without an adverse effect on safety.
At the hearing the parties dealt with a number of points which had been the subject of negotiations between them in their efforts to resolve the question. This award will deal with these in order, and in most cases quite briefly.
1) The Union expressed concern with the sufficiency of the training program, and especially with its relationship to practical experience. In the course of the parties’ earlier discussions it has been requested that employees under training for promotion to conductor be provided with two trial trips in passenger service and two trial trips in freight service. The two-year experience such an employee would already have gained would, in the board’s opinion, obviate the need for such trips in freight service. The Company would, however, accept that two trial trips in passenger service be given, and the board considers that this should be a condition of the reduction in qualifying time.
2) The Union sought to have applied to conductors the 20¢ per hour increase in the basic rate of yard foremen which was negotiated in the collective agreement. This question is, in the board’s view, one relating to the overall question of wage rates and differentials and goes beyond the bounds of what it is
reasonable to consider in determining the issue before it. To grant this request would be to create special terms for conductors on certain seniority districts, and the board is not persuaded that such an imbalance would be justified.
3) The Union sought to have qualified conductors considered as protected employees with relation to freight crews. This matter, like the preceding, involves consideration of the relationships between groups of employees which would take the board beyond the proper scope of its enquiry.
(2 pages missing : 7 and 8 - Items 4 to 7 incl.))
8) The Union requested a payment to conductors who provide on-the-job training for men on trial trips as brakemen or conductors. The board has already indicated that there is to be an increase in the "trainer rate" with respect to the training of conductors. That payment should also be made with respect to trial trips, and it should be in the same amount. The board does not, however, consider that it should make an award dealing with the payments to be made with respect to brakemen.
9) (This was "item 11" in a list of matters raised by the Union. Items 9 and 10 on that list have been sufficiently dealt with elsewhere in this award). The Union considered that the training program for conductors should be supplemented in some way with respect to train order territory. The Company had been willing to undertake to have a preponderance of trial trips for new brakemen made on train order territory where that is practical and possible. While the Company argued that such a provision involved brakemen and not conductors, it is the board’s opinion that it relates to the nature of the experience which is accumulated as a prerequisite to becoming a conductor, and that it involves a valid concern of the Union, and should be a condition of the reduction in the qualifying period.
10) ("Item 12"). The Union contended that payment for attendance at the training course should cover all lost-time earnings and expenses. The training program, it is noted, replaces the requirement that employees qualify as conductor on their own time. Employees are paid at a daily rate and there are expense allowances, as noted above. Such arrangements are usual in situations where an employee’s skills and learning capacities are enhanced, and should prevail in this case.
11) ("Item 13"). The Union seeks, as a condition of reduction of the qualifying period, the deletion of the words "and/or on the joint spare board" from article 57.2 of the collective agreement. This proposal is made because these exist certain terminals where a preponderance of the work for men on joint spare boards
is yard work. The experience gained on such work could not properly be considered as equivalent to road work. While the proposed amendment to article 57.2 might create new problems while solving another, the parties did reach tentative agreement, in their negotiations, to a proposal to establish separate brakemen’s and yard helpers’ spare boards at Sarnia, subject to review at each change of timetable, and to consider other locations where such a problem may come to light. It is the board’s opinion that such an arrangement should be a condition of the reduction in the qualifying.
12) (Items "14" and "15"). These reflect the Union’s quite proper concern that conductors be qualified in more than just the operating rules, but that their training and practical experience be such as to justify the conferring on them of the important responsibility under Rule 106. There is no doubt that both parties share this concern. While the board does not consider that the training program should be made the subject of negotiation, it does consider that the Union should have the right - and indeed the board would encourage its exercise - to make proposals to the Company with respect to the contents of the training program, and that the Company should be obliged to give serious consideration to such proposals. In addition, the Company should notify the Union in advance of any major changes in the content of the program.
For the foregoing reasons, the board makes the following award in this matter :
1. Article 57.2 of the collective agreement shall, from and after the date of this award, read as follows :
"Brakemen shall be examined for promotion to Conductor according to seniority on the Brakemen’s seniority list after twenty-four months’ cumulative service. On other than the 11th Seniority District, such service will include service as Brakeman and/or Yard Helper, at least sixteen months of which must be in road service and/or on joint spare boards".
2. Article 57.6 of the collective agreement shall, from and after the date of this award, read as follows :
"Any Brakeman who, because of the sixteen-month road service/joint board requirement of paragraph 57.2 of this Article, is promoted to Conductor after Brakeman junior to him have been promoted, shall, provided that he qualifies at the first opportunity, rank on the Conductors’ seniority list ahead of those junior Brakemen who were promoted before him".
3. The formal training program provided by the Company for employees qualifying as conductors shall not be less than that offered by the Company at the time of this award.
4. Article 19.2 of the collective agreement is amended by the deletion of the words "off their own promotion territory".
5. For a period of one year from the date of this award, employees may not enter the engineer training program until they have completed three years’ continuous service.
6. The trainer allowance of $8.50 per tour shall be increased by the amount of the general percentage wage increase.
7. Employees taking the conductor training program shall receive, in addition to other payments and allowances, a $20.00 per week allowance for incidental expenses.
8. The trainer allowance referred to in (6) above is to be paid where training is carried on on trial trips.
9. The Company is to arrange to have a preponderance of trial trips for new brakmen made on train order territory where this is practical and possible.
10. The Company is to establish separate brakemen’s and yard helpers’ spare boards at Sarnia, subject to review at each change of timetable, and shall give consideration to other locations where they may be advisable.
11. The Company shall receive and consider any proposals the Union may put forward relating to the content of the conductors’ training program. It is directed that the Company and the Union meet within thirty days from date of this award (subject to extension mutually agreed to), to review the existing training syllabus. It is further directed that the Company notify the Union in advance of any major changes in the syllabus.
12. The parties should meet within thirty days from the date of this award to make the collective agreement amendments necessary for the implementation of this award.
DATED at Toronto, this 17th dat of June, 1977.