SHP Ė 173

IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION

BETWEEN:

CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY COMPANY

(the "Company")

AND

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS

(The "Union")

IN THE MATTER OF THE GRIEVANCE OF L. ALLICOCK

 

 

SOLE ARBITRATOR: J. F. W. Weatherill

 

 

There appeared on behalf of the Company:

D. Lord

 

And on behalf of the Union:

L. Biniaris

 

 

A hearing in this matter was held at Montreal on April 24, 1985.

 

 

AWARD

In this grievance the grievor, a Machinist having some ten yearsí service with the company, protests a two-month suspension imposed on him for refusal to perform assigned duties and for leaving work without authorization on May 3, 1984.

The union statement of fact and issue in the matter is as follows:

UNION STATEMENT OF FACT

On May 3, 1984, Machinist L. Allicock reported for duty at his working centre for the 8 - 4 shift. His supervisor assigned him to remove a power assembly with Mr. Mioni, a co-worker.

During the preliminary work to prepare for the removal of the power assembly which takes approximately one and one half hours, Mr. Allicock approached his supervisor to let him know that a new power assembly was required, and how to transport it to his work site.

At approximately 10:18 a.m., Mr. Allicock informed his supervisor, Mr. Smith, in the presence of Mr. Jalali, the shop chairman for the IAM, that he had to leave work on account of an emergency. Mr. Smith replied, "O.K., just make sure to punch your card." Mr. Allicock then left the shop.

Subsequently, Mr. Allicock was charged with refusal to perform duties and leaving without authorization.

UNION STATEMENT OF ISSUE

The Union contends that Machinist L. Allicock was unjustly dealt with in the Companyís handling of this matter before, during, and after the complete investigation.

The Union also contends that the charges are unwarranted, and requests that the suspension be cancelled and all documents related thereto be removed from the grievorís file, and full compensation awarded.

The Company has declined the request.

The company statement of issue is as follows:

COMPANY STATEMENT OF ISSUE

On May 3rd, 1984, Machinist Allicock was instructed by Foreman R. Smith to replace a power assembly. on diesel locomotive 9493. Due to repairs taking place in the diesel shops a fork lift could not deliver the power assembly to locomotive 9493. Consequently, Machinist Allicock was instructed by Foreman Smith to move the power assembly from a pit at the north side of the Shop to his work site at the south side, using a power assembly mover.

On three occasions, Foreman Smith instructed Machinist Allicock to move the power assembly with the mover as a fork lift could not; the ramp being blocked due to construction. However, these instructions were ignored.

These instructions were repeated to Machinist Allicock by Shop Foreman Grenon in his office. Again Machinist Allicock refused and left the office.

Machinist Allicock then proceeded to the locker room area, changed into his street clothes, punched out his time card and returned to the Shop Foremanís office where he advised Foreman Smith he was leaving as he had an emergency.

Following an investigation, Machinist Allicock was suspended two months, July 5 to September 5, 1984, for refusing to carry out his Supervisorís instructions and leaving work without authorization.

The Union contends that the charges are unwarranted and requested that the suspension be cancelled and all documents related thereto be removed from the grievorís file.

The Company has declined the request.

It may be noted that the issue of the severity of the penalty imposed is not raised. It was the unionís position that no discipline ought to have been imposed in the circumstances. There is no evidence of any previous suspension of the grievor, and it would appear that at the material times there were no demerit marks outstanding on the grievorís record, although in the past he has been disciplined on some three occasions for offences which amounted to insubordination in one form or another.

From the partiesí statements, there is no really substantial dispute as to the facts, although at the investigation of the matter, whose continuation he would not attend, the grievor was most uncooperative and unresponsive. For the most part, the grievorís disagreements with the statements of the supervisors were over matters of detail, but in some respects the material before me presents conflicts which must be resolved. On all of the material before me, I conclude that in respect of the grievorís refusal to perform the work of transporting the power assembly, the statements of the supervisors are more accurate, and that there was in fact such a refusal.

On the day in question the grievor reported for work and was assigned, along with another Machinist, to remove a faulty power assembly from a diesel unit and replace it with a new one. The grievor began the work. While the preparatory work was being done, a question arose as to the transportation of the new power assembly from the area of the shop where it was located to the unit in which it was to be installed. The grievor suggested to the Foreman that it be brought over by a forklift operator. This was a natural suggestion, and it would appear that that is what would have been done in the normal course.

The Foreman, however, advised the grievor that the power assembly could not be delivered to the work site by forklift, because the ramp on the route which would have to be taken was temporarily blocked, due to construction. The Foreman instructed the grievor to move the power assembly by hand cart. While this would have involved some effort on the grievorís part, the lifting of the assembly into and out of the cart would be done by crane. There is no suggestion that the grievor referred at the time to any physical condition which might have prevented him from doing the work involved.

Proceeding toward the area where a hand cart was located, the Foreman instructed the grievor to empty a hand cart and use it. The grievor refused and walked away. The only cart available near the area where the power assembly was located was loaded, and at that areas the Foreman again instructed the grievor to empty the cart. The grievor made no reply, and left the area.

The Foreman then went and got the Shop Foreman, and the two of them went to the grievorís work area, where they met the grievorís partner. The grievor was not there. They advised the partner that he and the grievor were to get the new power assembly with a cart; and the partner acknowledged that instruction.

Shortly before the coffee break, the Foreman found the grievor, and repeated his instructions. The grievor did not respond and walked away toward the lunchroom. Some twenty-five minutes later, ten minutes after the coffee break had ended, the Foreman went again to the grievorís work area and repeated his instructions once again. The grievor again refused. The Foreman then told the grievor to come with him to the Shop Foremanís office, and the grievor refused that instruction as well.

The Foreman advised the Shop Foreman of what had occurred, and the Shop Foreman had the grievor paged. The grievor then came to the office, and when asked by the Shop Foreman what the problem was, replied that the ramp blockage prevented the power assembly from being delivered. The grievor suggested that a wooden wall at the south end of the stores area could be removed to allow a forklift to pass through. The foreman replied that that was not possible. While it may have been "possible", in that the "wall" appears really to be an installed barrier which could relatively easily be removed (although not without some expenditure of time and materials), I would not consider that such a course was a practical one, and certainly the Shop Foreman could properly make such a determination. The best method of moving the power assembly in the circumstances would appear to have been that which the Foreman had directed the grievor to use.

The Shop Foreman then directed the grievor to get a cart to move the power assembly to his work area. The grievor refused. The Shop Foreman asked the grievor if he was refusing duty. The grievor made no reply, but left the office. A few moments later, the Local Chairman advised the Shop Foreman that the grievor was going home because of an emergency. At the investigation, the Local Chairman gave a somewhat different account of the matter, in which the Local Chairman had become aware of the grievorís leaving, but the actual advice to the Shop Foreman was given by the Foreman, in the Local Chairmanís presence. Whichever version may be the more accurate, the significant fact is simply that the grievor left work.

It is said that the grievor had called home during his break and had discovered that there was an emergency situation which required his immediate attention. He did not then bring the matter to the attention of a supervisor, or request permission to leave early. There is no substantial evidence as to the nature of the emergency, and nothing to support the conclusion that it in fact occurred. On the grievorís own account of the matter, he remembered the emergency when he was in the Shop Foremanís office. He then simply said that he had to leave, and got up and left.

The grievorís conduct at the investigation of the matter is corroborative of the conclusion that his attitude was one of obstinate self-assertion. The task assigned to him was apparently out of the normal course of his work and not to his liking. It is clear that he consciously refused a clear directive, and that there was no valid reason for such refusal. There was, I find, just cause for the imposition of substantial discipline in the circumstances.

The penalty imposed was, in my view, severe, even in view of the seriousness of the grievorís offence. It has not, however, been put in issue, and having regard to all of the circumstances, including the grievorís conduct at the investigation (which, I consider, was properly and patiently conducted), I do not consider it to have been beyond the range of reasonable disciplinary responses in this particular case.

For all of the foregoing reasons, the grievance is dismissed.

 

DATED AT TORONTO, this 13th day of May, 1985.

 

(signed) J. F. W. Weatherill