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(Hereinafter Referred To As "The Company")




(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

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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.


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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

switching limits.

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

the South.

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

Creek Subdivision.

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

road crews.

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

switching limits.


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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

present case.

Signed at Vancouver, British Columbia, this 9th day of May, 1983.