©b40rAD HOC 137
©u43rIN THE MATTER OF A GRIEVANCE INVESTIGATION
©u42rPURSUANT TO SECTION 112 OF THE B.C. LABOUR
©u17rCODE IN A DISPUTE
BETWEEN: THE BRITISH COLUMBIA RAILWAY COMPANY
(Hereinafter Referred To As "The Company")
AND: THE UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION, LOCALS NO.1178 AND 1923
(Hereinafter Referred To As "The Union")
Section 112 Investigator: Brian Foley
Appearing For The Company: D Pysh, D.Sawchuk, A. Shannon
Appearing For The Union: C. Mulhall, R. Sharpe
Date Of Meeting(s) With The Parties: May 3, 1983, at Vancouver, B.C.
Date Of Written Report: May 9, 1983
Issue: Collective Agreement Interpretation - Switching Limits
The agreement between the Company and the Union, the undersigned
was appointed under Section 112 of the B.C. Labour Code to
investigate grievances and make written recommendations to the
parties for their resolution. In April 1983, the parties requested a
recommendation with respect to the interpretation of the collective
agreement provision jurisdicting over "switching limits". A meeting
with the parties was held in Vancouver on May 3, 1983. At this
meeting, the parties agreed that the grievance investigator was
properly constituted and had the jurisdiction to deal with the
matter in dispute. In addition, the parties agreed that the
investigator's recommendations would be final and binding.
Rule 21 of Article 401 of the collective agreement is entitled
"Switching Limits" and it prescribes as follows:
The necessity of changing or re-establishing recognized
switching limits, in order to render switching services
required because of extension of industrial activities and/or
territorial extension of facilities, must be recognized.
Switching limits will be designated by general notice at all
points where yard engines are assigned and will only be
changed by negotiation between the proper Officer of the
Railway and the General Chairman.
The concurrence of the General Chairman will not be withheld
when it can be shown that changes are necessitated by
industrial activities and/or territorial extension of
facilities. Yard limit boards may or may not indicate
Present switching limits are designated as follows:
NORTH VANCOUVER - Between Mileage 3.1 on the North and by
Lonsdale Avenue on the South.
SQUAMISH - Between Mileage 42.1 on the North and Mileage 37.6
on the South.
LILLOOET - Between Mileage 159.6 on the North and Mileage
154.8 on the South.
EXETER - Between Mileage 263 on the North and Mileage 256 on
WILLIAMS LAKE -Between Mileage 318.5 on the North and Mileage
310.0 on the South.
QUESNEL -Between Mileage 388.0 on the North and Mileage 379.7
on the South.
PRINCE GEORGE -Between Mileage 473.7 on the North and Mileage
459.7 on the South.
KENNEDY -Between Mileage 570.0 on the North and Mileage 566.0
on the South.
CHETWYND - Between Mileage 662 on the North and Mileage 65|8
on the South and extends to Mileage 0.9 North on the Dawson
FORT ST. JOHN - Between Mileage 730.0 on the North and
Mileage 704.0 on the South.
FORT NELSON -Between Mileage 977.8 on the South and end of
track Mileage 979.4.
DAWSON CREEK -Between Mileage 59.5 Dawson Creek Subdivision
on the South and on the North by North end of Interchange
Track at Mileage 62.
FORT ST. JAMES - Between Mileage 76 Takla Subdivision on the
North and Mileage 71 Takla Subdivision on the South.
LEO CREEK - Between Mileage 153.0 on the North and Mileage
150.0 on the South.
Switching limits can be broadly defined as the territory switched by
yard crews. Any area outside the switching limits are serviced by
The present dispute arose over the Company's intention to change the
switching limits at Prince George. As stated in Rule 21, the Prince
George switching limits are presently between mileage 473.7 on the
north and mileage 459.7 on the south. The Company wishes to change
the south switching limit from mileage 459.7 to mileage 456.5. Its
reason for doing so is to allow switching service for customers
located from mileage 457 to mileage 458.5 to be provided by the
Prince George yard crew as opposed to the road crews.
The Union argues that, in order to change the switching limits
prescribed in Rule 21, the Company must be able to convince the Union
that such a change is necessary "because of extension of industrial
activities and/or territorial extension of facilities" (paragraph I
of Rule 21). The Union recognizes that paragraph 3 of Rule 21
prescribes that the Union may not withhold its concurrence to
switching limit changes necessitated by industrial activities and/or
territorial extension of facilities. But the Union argues that
paragraph 3 only comes into play if the Company provides evidence
for, and convinces the Union of the need for the change because of
the extension of activities and/or facilities. The Union argues
that no evidence has been presented to support the conclusion that
the proposed switching limit change in Prince George is necessary
for either of the|'two above-noted reasons. In the alternative, the
Union argues that the Company has not engaged in any negotiations
with respect to the proposed change (refer paragraph 2 of Rule 21).
The Company points out that Rule 21 has been included in its present
form in collective agreements between the parties from 1961 to date;
the provision is in fact quite similar to the switching limit clauses
incorporated into agreements applying to CN and CP Railways. .The
Company argues that discussions giving rise to the present Rule 21
support the conclusion that the Company retains the prerogative to
change switching limits on the basis of expanded industrial
activities and/or facilities. It is argued that,,in the present
case, the pro|posed switching limit change in Prince George is based
on a territorial extension of facilities. It is the Company's view
that it would be more economical and practical to provide yard crew
switching service to the industrial entities in the Tabor Creek
Industrial Park; thus, the Company proposes that the switching limits
on the south end of the Prince George terminal be extended a distance
of 3.2 miles to encompass the Tabor Creek Industrial Park.
In light of this extension of facilities, the Company argues that
the Union cannot withhold its concurrence to the proposed change in
I have considered the various arguments of the parties against
the wording in the collective agreement. In my view, Rule 21 is
clear and unambiguous. It provides in paragraph 2 that switching
limit changes will be subject to negotiations between the parties.
In accordance with the normally accepted concept of negotiations, the
parties are required to confer with each other with respect to any
proposed change in switching limits and attempt, through discussions,
to arrive at a settlement acceptable to both of them. However,
paragraph 3 of Rule 21 clearly prescribes that where it can be shown
that|'changes in switching limits are necessitated by industrial
activities and/or territorial extension of facilities, the Union
cannot withhold its concurrence with the changes.
In the present case, the Company has demonstrated that t|he extension
of facilities into the Tabor Park area necessitates the change in
switching limits. In accordance with paragraph 3 of Rule 21, the
Union's concurrence cannot be withheld.
In providing this interpretation, I recommend to the Company and to
the Union that more detailed discussions ensue in the future when
switching limit changes are proposed. A full and complete disclosure
of information and an open and frank exchange of views might well
minimize the possibility of conflicts arising as they did in the
Signed at Vancouver, British Columbia, this 9th day of May, 1983.