CANADIAN RAILWAY OFFICE OF ARBITRATION
& DISPUTE RESOLUTION
CASE NO. 4057
CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY COMPANY
behalf of Conductor P. Champagne of the assessment of 25 demerits for his
violation of GOI Section 8, Item 12.12 while working as conductor on Train
Q10531-16 at Symington Yard in
COMPANY’S STATEMENT OF ISSUE:
The Company conducted an investigation of the incident and determined that Conductor Champagne had violated the rule noted and was deserving of discipline which subsequently discharged him for accumulation of demerits.
disagrees with the
FOR THE COMPANY:
(SGD.) D. BRODIE
FOR: VICE-PRESIDENT, HUMAN RESOURCES
There appeared on behalf of the Company:
D. Brodie –
Manager, Labour Relations,
K. Morris – Sr.
Manager, Labour Relations,
D. VanCauwenburgh – Director, Labour
D. Broesky –
There appeared on behalf of the
M. A. Church –
R. A. Hackl –
B. R. Boechler –
A. W. Franco –
B. Willows –
General Chairmen (LE),
P. Champagne – Grievor
AWARD OF THE ARBITRATOR
It is not
disputed that the grievor did violate GOI Section 8, Item 12.12 while he was
assigned as conductor on train Q10531-16 on
also indicates that as part of his attempt to jar the ice and snow from the
locomotive’s coupling mechanism the grievor attempted coupling the locomotive
to the lead car of his train on three occasions. Those efforts were
unsuccessful, but caused the drawbar on the lead car to shift in its position.
Following this incident the grievor was summoned to a disciplinary investigation after which he was assessed twenty-five demerits for the rule violation, which resulted in his termination after forty-four years of service.
has considerable difficulty with the procedural objections raised by the
In my view
these objections are without merit. While the language of the collective
agreement does contemplate the grievor and his Union representative being
provided copies of documentation at the outset of an investigation, there is
nothing in the language of that document which gives to the grievor and his
representatives the right to carry the documentation off site to review it and
prepare a rebuttal. While that may occur on occasion as a matter of courtesy,
it is not something which the
In the Arbitrator’s view no violation of article 117 of the collective agreement is disclosed. Article 117.2 provides, in part:
The employee and/or their accredited representative shall have the right to ask questions of any witness/employee during such investigation relating to the employee’s responsibilities.
In my view that requirement was complied with. Given the time and exigencies of disciplinary investigations it is not uncommon for witnesses to be involved by telephone contact, as occurred in the instant case. There is nothing on the face of the record which would indicate that following that procedure prejudiced the grievor or his union or in fact departed from the essential requirements of article 117 of the collective agreement.
investigation procedure was drawn out over several days, due partially to the
fact that the grievor insisted on writing each answer to the questions put to
him before providing it to the investigating officer. A review of the
investigation report leaves little doubt that the process was tedious, slow and
contentious. While it is regrettable that the investigating officer lost
patience late in the course of one day, causing him to express his anger and
throw an object, a gesture for which he immediately apologized profusely, I am
not prepared to find that that incident discloses that the grievor was denied a
fair and impartial investigation. For all of these reasons I am satisfied that
the grievor was not denied a fair and impartial investigation, as alleged by
What of the
merits of the grievance? I must agree with the
Arbitrator’s view the incident in question should have resulted in nothing more
than a written reprimand registered against the grievor. It is true, as the
Company stresses, that Mr. Champagne appeared to maintain through the
investigation process that there was nothing improper in the manner he used to
align the drawbar and that he is generally more combative that cooperative. I
am satisfied that using his foot was inconsistent with the proper way of
aligning drawbars described in GOI Section 8, item 12.12. I can appreciate the
As noted above, the grievor is an employee of forty-four years’ service. While his record is not without disciplinary blemish, it is not heavily laden with rules infractions. His record shows six rules infractions over the whole of his career, with only one having occurred since 1995, when he received fifteen demerits in 2007 for not wearing appropriate safety apparel.
The grievor should appreciate that these observations do not give him carte blanche to disregard instructions or to be openly disrespectful to Company officers, a trait which has apparently contributed to a substantial part of the discipline which he has incurred over the years. By the same token, it is to be hoped that Company officers will appreciate the concerns which naturally arise when an employee of over forty years’ service is summarily discharged for a relatively minor infraction which, insofar as the parties appear to be aware, has never before been invoked in the history of the Company for the assessment of discipline in the form of demerits.
For the foregoing reasons the grievance is allowed, in part. The Arbitrator directs that the grievor be reinstated into his employment forthwith, without loss of seniority and with compensation for all wages and benefits lost, with interest. A reprimand shall be recorded on his record for his improper handling of a drawbar.