RAILWAY OFFICE OF ARBITRATION
& DISPUTE RESOLUTION
CASE NO. 3935
CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY COMPANY
Assessment of discipline and resultant dismissal of Yard Conductor Beaudoin.
UNION’S STATEMENT OF ISSUE:
is also the
Company disagrees with the
(SGD.) J. M. ROBBINS
There appeared on behalf of the Company:
A. Daigle – Manager, Labour
D. Gagné – Sr. Manager, Labour Relations,
L. De Felice – Trainmaster,
And on behalf of the
G. Gower – Vice-General Chairman,
R. A. Beatty – Transition Director, Sault Ste Marie
J. M. Robbins – General Chairman,
P. Boucher – Local Chairman,
P. Vickers – General Chairman,
AWARD OF THE ARBITRATOR
arbitration concerns two heads of discipline registered against the grievor.
The first involves ten demerits for a violation of CROR rule 104(b) on
With respect to the first incident the Company relies on the eye witness account of Trainmaster Larry De Felice who observed the grievor from his truck when Mr. Beaudoin was operating a manual switch and instructing his locomotive engineer to back up once the switch was thrown. According to Mr. De Felice’s observations the grievor simply threw the switch and immediately instructed the locomotive engineer to back up his movement. In the trainmaster’s estimation the grievor could not have verified whether the switch points were properly lined in the time it took him to communicate to the locomotive engineer. The grievor denies not having verified the switch points.
On the whole, bearing in mind that the Company has the burden of proof, the Arbitrator is left in some doubt as to the reliability of Mr. De Felice’s observations. It does not appear disputed that it would have been entirely possible for the grievor to see the switch points as he handled the switch. At best the trainmaster’s observation is that it appeared that it all happened too quickly. With respect, considering the seriousness of discipline in such a circumstance, I cannot find that the Company’s proof in respect of this issue is conclusive, particularly given the categorical denial of Mr. Beaudoin, who maintains that he did see the switch points as required by CROR 104(b). In the result, I cannot find that a violation of the rule is established in the instant case, and the grievance must be therefore be allowed. The Arbitrator directs that the ten demerits assessed against the grievor be removed from record.
The second head
of discipline involves the grievor’s departure from work without authorization
It would appear
that the grievor was not on the best terms with Trainmaster De Felice.
Notwithstanding that, however, as an employee on duty he is clearly under an
obligation to communicate directly with an appropriate supervisor to, at a
minimum, advise that he felt himself no longer fit to work and would be
leaving. It is simply not open to a person in the position of Mr. Beaudoin to
summarily leave the premises without any notice to his superiors in
circumstances which obviously bring the work which he and his crew were
performing to a complete halt. As the Company’s brief puts it, while it can appreciate
the grievor’s sadness at hearing about his colleague’s passing, the facts do
not justify his abandoning his assignment without seeking proper authorization.
In the result, I am satisfied that the grievor did render himself subject to
discipline for his departure from work on
The grievor is an employee of twenty-nine years of service. He has received discipline over the years, and his record stood at forty active demerits at the time of the two incidents here under consideration. Given the Arbitrator’s ruling on the first issue, in fact he would have stood at forty demerits at the time the twenty demerits were assessed against him for leaving work without authorization. In my view a substitution of penalty is appropriate. Given the longevity of the grievor’s service, while accepting that the abandonment of his post was a serious infraction, I am satisfied that the reinstatement of the grievor subject to a lengthy suspension is appropriate.
The grievance is therefore allowed, in part. The Arbitrator directs that the grievor be reinstated into his employment forthwith without loss of seniority and without compensation for any wages and benefits lost. The demerits assessed against him shall be removed from his record and his disciplinary record shall stand at forty demerits.