IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION
BRITISH COLUMBIA RAILWAY COMPANY
UNITED ASSOCIATION OF JOURNEYMEN AND APPRENTICES OF THE PLUMBING AND PIPEFITTING INDUSTRY OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, LOCAL 170
IN THE MATTER OF THE GRIEVANCE concerning the ratio of aprentice to journeyman
SOLE ARBITRATOR: Bryan E. Williams
There appeared on behalf of the Union: Norman D. Farley
There appeared on behalf of the Company: Daniel M. Pysh
A hearing in this matter was held North Vancouver, B.C, on Friday, December 11, 1981.
This arbitration took place on Friday, December 11, 1981 in North Vancouver, B.C. It was agreed by both parties that the arbitrator was properly constituted and that the decision of the arbitrator would be binding on them.
The question before me is:
Did the Company violate the last sentence of the second paragraph of Rule 23.15 of the Collective Agreement when electrical apprentice J. D. Loewen was laid off effective August 8, 1981 and if so, what compensation, if any, is he entitled?
The Union contends that the ratio of apprentices was changed at the time of lay-off, therefore there was a violation of Rule 23.15. Consequently the grievor is entitled to lost wages.
The last sentence of Rule 23.15 which gives rise to this grievance is as follows:
In reducing forces, the ratio of apprentices shall be maintained.
Counsel for the Union argued that the grievance was further enforced by Rule 31.4 which is as follows:
31.4 The number of apprentices in any one craft shall be determined by the number of fully-qualified mechanics on the permanent seniority list in that craft on the system, including main shops. The ratio, unless otherwise mutually agreed, shall not be more than one to every four fully-qualified mechanics on the permanent seniority list.
The Union further argued that at one point during the third stage of the Grievance, the Works Manager agreed with the Union position as to the ratio but this was quickly overturned by the Industrial Relations Department.
Counsel for the Company argued that under Rule 31.4, the Company was obligated to ensure that no more than one apprentice to every four electricians are employed and that there is nothing in the Collective Agreement that restricts the Company from employing more than four electricians to every apprentice. He further argued that there was no "mutual agreement" (as per Rule 31.4) to maintain any other ratio than the one apprentice to four electricians.
Evidence indicated that there was a ratio of one apprentice to every five journeymen electricians prior to the lay-off and a ratio of one apprentice to 7.2 electricians following the grievor’s lay-off. There was no evidence as to how long the 1 to 5 ratio was in effect prior to the lay-off nor was there any evidence presented as to any kind of "mutual agreement" that the ratio was to be 1 to 5. During the period from July 18, 1981 and August 21, 1981 there were at least nine layoffs or resignations changing the ratio which fluctuated from as low as 1 to 4.8 to as high as 1 to 7.2 and only precipitating one grievance.
Rule 31.4 is explicit that the ratio shall not be more than 1 to 4. It does not say that the ratio cannot be 1 to 5 or 1 to 7 or 1 to 10. It does say that the ratio cannot be 1 to 1 or 1 to 2 or 1 to 3.
While the ratio at the beginning of the lay-off happened to be 1 to 5, there is no evidence of any agreement to that effect.
It must be assumed that when the parties negotiated Rule 31.4 they meant it to have some effect "… there shall not be more than one to every four …"
I can only conclude that the logical interpretation of the words "the ratio" referred to in Rule 23.15 must have the same meaning attached to them as the words "the ratio" referred to in Rule 31.4. For the above reasons, this grievance is dismissed.
DATED at Langley, B.C. this 28th day of December, 1981.
(signed) Bryan E. Williams