©b59r AD HOC 129
IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION
CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY COMPANY
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.
©u14rD. C. Fraleigh, for the company
©u12rF. R. Oliver, for the union
©b39rA W A R D
This matter arises as a result of a 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 amendment 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 ,that 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
propose to deal with this matter having regard to the particular
characteristics of these districts, and to the proper interests of
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
conductors' 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 conductors' 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 had
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 cents 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
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.
4) The union argued that if the company's request is granted, there
should be an amendment to article 19.2 of the collective agreement
which would extend a conductor's right to be accompanied by a pilot
over a line with which he is unacquainted to situations arising on
his own promotion territory. Such an extension recognizes the lack
of experience a newly-promoted conductor may have. It is the board's
views that where the qualifying period is being reduced, an increase
in the scope of familiarization is appropriate. The board would, in
conjunction with such an award, require the amendment of article 19.2
in the manner suggested by the union.
5) The union requested that the company provide free uniforms for all
men on the spare board to enable them to become familiar with
passenger work. Conductors and brakemen not regularly assigned to
passenger service are now permitted to purchase uniforms at one-third
of cost. While the board understands the desire of those who are not
regularly assigned, but are liable to be used in such service, to
have free uniforms, this is a general negotiating matter and has no
particular relation to the problem of the qualifying period on these
seniority districts. The company did offer to provide uniforms for
certain employees, but the board does not consider that one group
should be singled out for such a benefit.
6) The union requested that conductors, notwithstanding that they may
have qualified as such after two years' service, not be permitted to
enter the company's locomotive engineer training program until after
an additional year. Recognizing the uncertainty the possible loss of
conductors to the engineer training program might create among
conductors whose relative seniority might be affected, the company
offered to continue its existing practice for a period of one year
from the acceptance of its proposal. In the board's view, this
should be made a condition of the reduction of the qualifying period.
7) The union sought an increase in trainer rates and expense
allowances. In this respect, it is the board's view that the trainer
allowance of $18.50 per shift or tour of duty (for conductors who
provide on-the-job training to those in training to be conductors),
should be increased by the application of the general percentage wage
increase. There is a $7.50 per day meal allowance for conductors in
training. While the company opposed any change in that allowance, it
had offered to provide, in addition, a $20.00 per week expense
allowance. This should be made a condition of the reduction in the
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
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 earning 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 there 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 period.
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
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
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
6. The trainer allowance of $8.50 per tour shall be
increased by the amount of the general percentage wage
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 brakemen 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 day of June, 1977.
Referee J.F.W. weatherill
Union Member G.W. McDevitt
Company Member S.T. Cooke