AH - 452



St. Lawrence & Hudson Railway Company


Canadian Council of Railway Operating Unions [United Transportation Union & Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers]


The handling of traffic to and from the Port of Montreal.


On July 18, 1995, the Company advised the General Chairman of a change in operations at the Port of Montreal.

The Council filed a grievance alleging a violation of article 32, which they contend required the Company to provide notice of a material change to the General Chairman and to negotiate benefits to minimize the significantly adverse effects upon locomotive engineers.

The Company’s position in this matter is that no such notice is required.

FOR THE COUNCIL:                                 FOR THE COMPANY:

(SGD.) R. S. McKENNA                              (SGD.) G. CHEHOWY

GENERAL CHAIRMAN                                                      FOR: DISTRICT GENERAL MANAGER

There appeared on behalf of the Company:

G. Chehowy                                      – Manager, Labour Relations, Toronto

M. Oliphant                                       – Labour Relations Officer, Toronto

J. H. Blotsky                                      – Manager, Operations

B. Yeandle                                         – Road Manager

G. Deciccio                                        – Road Manager

And on behalf of the Council:

R. S. McKenna                                 – General Chairman, Barrie

B. Brunet                                           – Local Chairman, Blainville

A. Verner                                            – Local Chairman, Grande Piles

R. McLellan                                      – Local Chairman, Chateauguay

A hearing in this matter was held in Montreal on Monday, November 3, 1997


It is not disputed that for a three to four month period in 1995 and 1996 the Company implemented certain changes in assignments, the result of which was to transfer assignments, for a temporary period, from the Hochelaga Yard to the St. Luc Yard. The gist of the complaint made by the Council is that the Company surrendered, for that time, running rights to the railway of the Port of Montreal, and certain work was performed by employees of that entity which previously have been performed by locomotive engineers of the Company.

The issue is whether what is disclosed in the instant case does constitute a material change in working conditions within the meaning of article 32. As difficult and close as this case may seem, the Arbitrator is not persuaded that the Council has discharged the burden of proof in this matter. Firstly, it should be emphasized that article 32 addresses “… material changes in working conditions which are initiated solely by the Company”. In this case it does not appear disputed that the circumstances which lead to the temporary change which was implemented were in fact occasioned by construction work undertaken by the Port of Montreal, a matter beyond the discretion or control of the Company. In the circumstances the Company found itself obliged to accommodate an important customer in a reasonable fashion, for a temporary period of time. Secondly, it does not appear disputed that the overall number of assignments did not decrease through the period in question, even though there may have been some measure of work performed by a third party.

The circumstances disclosed are not, in my view, unlike those contemplated by the exceptions found under paragraph (g). While there was not a fluctuation in traffic, this was a change inherent in the nature of work which engineers are called upon to perform. It is a situation not unlike what might have arisen in the event of a flood or extreme snowstorm or some other temporary condition which would have compelled the Company to make an adjustment in its operations. An adjustment of that kind is what occurred and I am satisfied, therefore, that this was not a material change in working conditions initiated solely by the Company within the meaning of article 32.

For all of the foregoing reasons the grievance must be dismissed.

Dated at Toronto November 4, 1997                                                               (original signed by) MICHEL G. PICHER