In the matter of an arbitration
Canadian National Railway Company
( the company)
Canadien council of railway operating unions (UTU-BLE)
( the Union )
Grievance regarding conditions and benefits to apply to employees adversely affected by the implementation of the belt pack technology
ARBITRTION: Michel G . Picher
The Employer: Dennis Coughlin - Director, Labour Relations
The Union: R LeBel - General Chairperson,
A hearing in this matter was matter was held on December 7, 1995.
This matter arises by reason of a material change implemented by the company. The change in question concerns the utilization of remote control belt pack technology for the movement of locomotives in yard switching at a number of locations in Canada, incul=ding the company`soperations at Garneau and Joffre, Quebec. It is common ground that the company gave the union due notice of the material change, pursuant to the provisions of article 79 of collective agreement 4.16. Thereafter the parties negotiated the terms of a comprehensive agreement in respesct of conditions and benefits to apply to employees who are adversely affected by the implementation of the belt pack system in the various locations. The agreement , dated November 1, 1995, was subject to ratification by the members of the union at the locations. The terms of Agreement were ratifird by the employees at Montreal, Toronto, Sarnia, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Edmonton and prince George. However, the employees represented by the United Transportation Union at Garneau and Joffr declined to ratify the Agreement, and the matter is properly before the arbitrator for determination.
The Union now seeks improvement in two aspects the Agreement. The firt concerns the maintenance of earnings provision governing yard service employees. The preamble to the Agreement includes the following provisions in respect of basic weekly pay and weekly salary for the purposes of maintenance of earning:
For the purpose of this Agreement, The term "basic weekly pay" weekly salary" are defined as :
(a) An employee assigned to a regular position in yard service, including yerd service spare boards, at the time of displacement or playoff, 5 days or 40 hours straight time pay, including shift differential when applicable.
(b) For an employee in rosd service including employees on road and joint spare boards, one-fifty second (1/52) of the total earnings of such employee during the twenty-six full pay periodes preceding his/her displacement or layoff
(c) When computing "basic weekly pay" pursuant to sub-paragraph (b) above, any pay periode during whitch an employee is absent for seven consecutive days or more because of bona fide injury sickness in respect of which an employee is in receipt of weekly indemnity benefits, autorized leave of absence, or laid off,shall be subtracted from the twenty-six (26) pay periods and total earnings. In such circumstance "basic weekly pay " shall be calculated on a prorated basis by dividing the remaining earning by the remaining number of pay periods.
Note: The amount of basic weekly pay for an employee in road service will in no case exeed $1,600.
On behalf of the employees at Garneau anf Joffre, the Union submits that employees in yard service, governed by paragraph 3(a) noted above, should have the formula given to employees in road service, as expressed in paragraph 3(b) of the preamble.
Secondly, the Union submits that the emplyees at Garneau and Joffre should be paid at a rate higher than the rate of pay found within the agreement of November 1, 1994 for the positions of yard operations employee (YOE) and belt pack helper. The Union seeks a rate for each of the two positions which is 5.00$ per hour in excess of the rate of 21.009 per hour for the YOE and $19.199 per hour for the belt pack helper, rates based on wages orginally established in an arbritation award daded Marck 6, 1995 between these same parties, respecting the introduction of belt pack technology in flat yard switching in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Sarnia, Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal.
The Company opposes the requests made by the Union on behalf of the employees at the two locations in Quebec.
The arbitrator has considerable difficulty a rational basis upon which these requests should be allowed. It is important to appreciate that whil the approximately 40 employees at Garneau and Joffre do have the right to decline retification of the agreement reached on a national basis between the parties, that agreement has nevertheless been accepted and ratifield by hundreds of employees affected by it a substantial number of locations cross Canada, including elsewhere in Quebec. In considering what is an appropriate measure, by way of conditions and benefits to minimize the advers effect of the introduction of the new technology on affected employees, the arbitrator must take cognizance and give subtantial weight to an agreement negotiated by the Union`s own representatives, agreed to at a national bargaining table and ratifileld system-wide by employees in almost all other affectd locations in Canada.
The issus before the arbitrator is not what the employees at the two Quebec locations in question would like, but what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances, regard being had to all of the provisions of the Agreement of the parties. On the issue of maintenance of earnings, it may be that in some circumstances, and in some locations, the 1/52 formula which the Union seeks for the employees at Garneau and Joffre might be more advantageous. In other circumstances, it might not. The fact remains, however, that a pattern has been established, for some considerable period of time, whereby the computation of maintenance of earnings for employees in yard service has been on a different basis than for employees in road service. Futher, as noted above, that distinction has been accepted for the purposes of the instant agreement by the overwhelming majority of the bargaining unit employees affected. I can, therefore , see no rational basis upon which to depart from the terms of the Agreement of November 1, 1994 to make an exception for the employees at these two locations.
Similarly, the arbitrator cannot see any compelling or rational basis to provide to the employees at Garneau and Joffre hourly wages which are $5.00 in excess of those which have been agreed upon and accepted by employees performing identical work at other locations, system-wide, accross Canada . The fact that the wage rates agreed to within the agreement of November1,1994 have been accepted by the great majot=rity of the employees affected by the introduction of belt pack technology is a asubstantial piece of evidence as to the reasonableness and appropriateness of those rates. I can , therefore, likewise see no basis to grant an effective increase in wages, as required by the Union, bases on the wishes of some 40 employees at the locations of Garneau and Joffre.
For the foregoing reasons, the arbritator determines that in respect of the two issuses in question the employees shall, firsly, be awarded the maintenance of earnings formula for yard service employees found in the prealable to the Agreement of November 1, 1994 and, secondly, that their rates of pay shall likewise be as provided in the Agreement, as accepted by employees at other locations on the system. I retain jurisdiction in the event of any dispute between the parties with respect to the interpretation or implementation of this award.
Dated at Toronto this 21st day of December, 1995.
Michel G Picher - Arbitrator