SHP - 30




(the "Company")



(the "Union")




SOLE ARBITRATOR: J. F. W. Weatherill















A hearing in this matter was held in Montreal on January 14, 1976.



The Joint statements of fact and issue in this case are as follows:


Prior to the month of January 1975, certain milling machine and buffing work, defined as machinists’ work, in the Journal Wedge Reclaim Area at Weston Shops, Winnipeg was being performed by machinists’ helpers temporarily promoted into the machinists’ classification.

During the month of January 1975, this milling machine and buffing work, referred to above, was reassigned to machinists’ helpers as provided for in Rule 53.4 (b).


The position of the union is that the Company violated Rule 53.4 (b), Clauses (b) and (c), when as a result of the reassignment of the milling machine and buffing work set-up machinists’ helpers Everard and Makowetski, who had been temporarily promoted into the machinists’ classification, reverted to the machinists’ helpers classification.

The position of the Company is that the provisions of Rule 53.4 (b), Clauses (b) and (c), were not violated as the employees voluntarily reverted to the machinists’ helpers classification when work as a temporarily promoted machinist was available in other areas of Weston Shops.


Rule 53 of the collective agreement deals with special rules relating to the machinist’s craft. Rule 53.4 deals with machinists’ helpers’ work, and is as follows:

Machinists’ Helpers’ Work

53.4 (a) Helpers’ work shall consist of helping machinists and apprentices, operating drill presses and bolt threaders not using facing, boring or turning head, or milling apparatus, wheel presses (on car, engine truck and tender truck wheels), nut tappers and facers, bolt pointing and centering machines, cranemen helpers on locomotive and car work, except as provided in Rule 53.2, attending tool room, shaft and machinery oiling; locomotive oiling, box packing, assisting in dismantling locomotives and engines; applying all couplings between engine and tender; locomotive tender and draft rigging work, except when performed by carmen, except as provided in Rule 53.2; beltmen; motor truck operators; supply man (material carrier); lagger (other than wood); and all other work generally recognized as helpers’ work.

(b) The assignment of work specified in this Rule 53.4 (b), to helpers’ shall not be construed as restricting Machinists from performing helpers’ work as required, and subject to the following conditions that the Company in implementing the proposal;

(a) Will not in any way, shape or form disrupt the jurisdiction or work between the various crafts; nor

(b) will any mechanic presently in the work force be laid-off or have his rate of pay affected;

(c) will not interfere routinely with the normal mechanic, helper, apprentice work gang team now in practice;

(d) will maintain the ratio of mechanics to helpers now existing in the several crafts, locations, and shops.

NOTE: The ratio in clause (d) above means the number of Machinists in relation to helpers’ in existence as of January 16th, 1974.

Removing main engines, compressors, trucks, draft gear and, couplers genemotors, drive shafts.

Dismantling main engines, truck, compressors, roller bearings and boxes.

Machine Pressing Operations

Pressing bushings in or out on brake gear, draft gear and other parts as required.

Repairing or replacing vehicle tires.

Removal and application of filters.

Grinding out nicks in axle body between wheel seats.

Dismantling trolleys for mechanical reefer cars.

Repetitive Machine Operations

Hand grinding and buffing

Milling machine (turnout and riser side plates and journal wedges)

Shaper (separator blocks and gauge plates)

Planer (heel filler and end blocks)

Shear bar stock

Saw rails

This provision forms part of the collective agreement by virtue of the award of Mr. Justice Hall, made pursuant to the Maintenance of Railway Operations Act, 1973. The award was issued on January 16, 1974. The arbitrator issued a clarification of certain paragraphs and statements in the award (including that paragraph which led to Rule 53.4), on April 26, 1974. It is clear from Rule 53.4 as it now stands, read in the light of the award and clarification, that the work involved in this case – certain milling machine and buffing work relating to journal wedge reclaiming – may properly be performed by machinists’ helpers. Previously, the work appears to have been considered as machinists’ work. The company would, in the general application of Rule 53.4, now be entitled to cease assigning this work to machinists, and to assign it instead to machinists’ helpers. Such a change in assignments, however, is subject to the conditions set forth in Rule 53.4 (b).

In the instant case there was a reassignment of work of the sort contemplated by Rule 53.4 (b). It is the union’s contention, however, that this reassignment was not in compliance with the conditions which affect implementation of the rule. In particular, as the joint statement indicates, it is alleged that conditions (b) and (c) have been violated.

In my view, there has been no violation of condition (c) in the particular circumstances of this case. I reach this conclusion on the basis of my understanding that the tasks involved are not those involving the traditional "mechanic, helper, apprentice work gang team", but are rather tasks of an individual nature. Previously, these tasks were recognized as falling within the scope of the machinist’s trade; now, it is recognized that they may be properly performed by persons classified as helpers and working as such. No question of a work gang team arises.

It does appear, however, that the two employees for whom a claim is made here have indeed had their rate of pay affected: previously they had performed the work in question as "set-up machinists’ helpers", (that is, as persons performing certain machinists’ work, but not fully qualified as machinists); now, they perform the same work as helpers, at a lower rate of pay. It appears, then, that condition (b) may not have been met. In considering this question, reference may also be made to condition (d), which was referred to in the presentation of this case, although not in the joint statement of issue.

The question which has arisen in this case appears to be somewhat incidental to the concerns which led to Rule 53.4 as It now stands. When the rule is read as a whole, and in the light of the award and clarification (to which the parties referred), it appears that one of its purposes is to secure the status of the machinists’ craft itself. A similar purpose is expressed in the provisions relating to other crafts. The terminology used in this respect, however (and I refer here to traditional terminology, used by these and other parties), is not always clear, particularly in its reference to trades or craft jobs. In the instant case, the use of the term "mechanic" may be thought, to cause confusion. That term has both a general and a particular connotation. In a general way, it is used to refer to a person performing the tasks coming within any one of the several recognized crafts or trades. It may include persons who are apprenticed in such a trade, and it may at times be used to refer to persons who work as helpers to such journeymen or apprentice. It may also be used to refer to persons, such as the grievors, "set up" to perform some but not all of the work coming within the scope of a particular trade. In its more particular connotation, the word "mechanic" is used to refer to a person working at tasks which are within or are associated with the work of a machinist, or the work of some closely-related trade.

In this collective agreement the word "mechanic" may be used in both senses. Certainly it is used in its broad sense as "a tradesman" or "a craftsman" or "a journeyman". In Rules 54 to 58, inclusive, dealing with the trades of boilermakers, blacksmiths sheet metal workers and pipefitters, electricians and carmen, the term "mechanic" is used in this way. In Rule 53, it is also used to refer particularly to persons performing work in, or related to, the machinists’

In my view, where condition (b) in Rule 53.4 (b) refers to "any mechanic", it does not refer merely to persons properly exercising the craft of machinists’ but refers more generally to any persons working at any of the trades, or at, work closely related thereto. This is the sense in which the term is used in similar provisions elsewhere in the agreement The grievors are "mechanics" in this sense, and are entitled to the benefit of condition (b).

That condition is one of a set of conditions whose general purpose, as I have noted, is to afford a certain protection to certain crafts. Condition (d) is that the ratio of mechanics to helpers is to be maintained. In condition (d) it would appear – and the Note thereto makes it clear – that the term "mechanics" is used to refer to "Machinists", that is, that the term is used in its narrower sense. Now prior to January 16, 1974, the grievors, although not "machinists" in the sense of being fully-qualified journeymen in the trade, were nevertheless assigned to perform "machinist’s work", and did not simply work as helpers. Under the new agreement, and by virtue of the arbitration award, that work became work which it would be proper – subject to the conditions – to assign to helpers. But the effect of the conditions – read, as I have suggested they must be, in the light of the award and clarification – is to protect the position of persons working as machinists. While, the grievors’ seniority apparently continued to accumulate as helpers (Rule 23.8), they were nevertheless temporarily filling positions as machinists (Rule 53.12) while they were classified as "set-up machinists’ helpers". I think it is not necessary, for the purposes of this case, to determine whether or not they should be considered as "machinists" for the purpose of determining the ratio of machinists to helpers, required by condition (d). That ratio, as indicated above, may not have any particular significance in relation to the work in question, which is performed on an individual, and not on a work gang team basis. But on the facts of the instant case it does indeed appear that the grievors are mechanics who have had their rate of pay affected by an assignment pursuant to the general terms of Rule 53.4: the work they now do, and for which they are paid as helpers, is the same as the work they formerly did for a higher rate of pay.

I think it is not an answer to say that the grievors were given the opportunity to transfer to other jobs at the "set-up machinist’s helper" rate. In my view, condition (b) gives effect to a principle of attrition; this appears from a consideration of the arbitration award, as well as from consideration of the conditions themselves as they are set out in Rule 53.4 (b). While the grievors were not laid off from employment, they were treated as subject to lay-off or transfer away from their existing jobs, which continued to be performed. The alternative offered them was a lower rate of pay. This was not a choice within the contemplation of the conditions set out in Rule 53.4 (b).

For the foregoing reasons, it is my conclusion that, while the work in question might properly be assigned to helpers in some circumstances, the company was not justified in paying only helpers’ rates to the grievors, who continued to be entitled to perform those job’s. Accordingly, the grievance is allowed.

DATED at Toronto, this 3rd day of February, 1976.

(sgd.) J. F. W. Weatherill