IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION
ONTARIO NORTHLAND RAILWAY
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS
re: GRIEVANCE RELATING TO THE ASSIGNMENT OF CERTAIN WORK
SOLE ARBITRATOR:J. F.W. Weatherill
APPEARING FOR THE UNION:
APPEARING FOR THE COMPANY:
A hearing in this matter was held at Toronto on May 12, 1987.
The Joint Statement of Fact and Issue in this matter is as follows:
Joint Statement of Issue
1. The involvement or non-involvement of a machinist welder in the soldering and unsoldering of traction motor field joints.
Joint Statement of Fact
2. On April 18, 1986 the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers grieved the use of a machinist welder to unsolder and solder traction motor field joints. On August 25, 1986 the company allowed the grievance and issued instructions that a machinist welder would no longer be called to perform the soldering and unsoldering of traction motor field joints.
The International Association of Machinists took issue with the company decision. It was mutually agreed to waive the grievance procedure and allow the matter to proceed directly to arbitration.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was given notice of the hearing of this matter, but did not appear.
There is considerable work performed on traction motors by Machinists as well as by Electricians. The particular task in question is a minor one, performed in the course of a series of tasks which are undoubtedly proper to the electrical craft. The task in question involves the application of heat in the course of a small soldering or unsoldering operation, where the related work, the application of the flux and the making of the joint, is properly the work of Electricians. In the past, however, the application of heat was by the use of an oxy-acetylene torch, and that particular task was, there is no doubt, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Machinists’ craft, being in particular the work of a Machinist Welder, and it was assigned accordingly.
In 1974 the company acquired a new brazing machine which replaced, in this application, the use of oxy-acetylene torches. One need not be a machinist to be qualified to use the brazing machine for the task in question. The company continued, however, to assign a Machinist Welder to assist the Electricians engaged in the soldering job in question. Such assignments continued until the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers filed a grievance in 1986, claiming that the work should properly be assigned to an Electrician. The company, after considering the submissions of both the Electricians and the Machinists, allowed the grievance, and has assigned the work in question to Electricians since that time. This assignment, it is important to note, has not resulted in any loss of employment for Machinists. The task in question is a very minor one.
While the task may be said always to have been a minor one, there is no doubt that the operation of the oxy-acetylene equipment did call for certain craft qualifications. Those qualifications are not required for the work as it is now performed (I refer only to the particular task of application of heat as now performed).
The work in question is not "welding" within the trades meaning of that term, and does not involve the use of the welding equipment for which the skills of a Machinist Welder would be required. While it might be that a Machinist would properly perform the task in the course of his other work, the task in question is really an integral part of the Electricians’ work, and with the equipment now used, there is no reed to assign a Machinist to perform it. While "oxy-acetylene and electric welding on work generally recognized as machinists’ work" is work which may be said to belong to Machinists pursuant to Rule 53 of the collective agreement, the work in question, performed using the equipment now used, is not.
The Machinists’ claim to the work in question does not appear, then, to be supported by the provisions of the collective agreement. Past practice, however, is often a significant consideration in matters of craft jurisdiction. In the instant case, the company continued a practice of assignment of the task to Machinists even after the justification for that assignment – the use of oxy-acetylene welding equipment – ceased, in 1974. It was not until the matter was protested by the Electricians in 1986 that action was taken.
In my view, the circumstances of the case are not such as to prevent the Electricians from claiming, or the company from making, the assignment in question. While a different view of the matter might be taken if the assignment were a substantial one and some person’s job were at stake (which would also indicate that the practice had been one having obvious significance for all parties), it has not been shown that the continuation of the assignment of the heat-application task was intended by the parties to have the effect of bringing such work generally within the scope of work exclusive to Machinists under the collective agreement.
From all of the material before me, I conclude that the "practice" in question was not a binding one, and that it was open to the company to concede the Electricians’ claim to the work in question (work which now, as I have indicated, properly falls within the scope of Electricians’ work), without thereby affecting the proper rights of Machinists to the exclusive performance of the work of their craft as defined by the collective agreement.
For all of the foregoing reasons, the grievance is dismissed.
DATED AT TORONTO, this 12th day of June, 1987.
(signed) J. F. W. Weatherill