SHP 292





Brotherhood Railway Carmen of Canda







There appeared on behalf of the Union:

B.R. McDonagh System General Chairman

L. Carozza General Chairman, Atlantic Region

Y. Houle Grievor



There appeared on behalf of the Company:

H.B. Butterworth Assistant Supervisor, Labour Relations - East, Intermodal Freight Systems

P.E. O'Donohue Assistant Supervisor, Labour Relations - East, Intermodal Freight Systems

E. Loiselle Car Foreman St. Luc Car Deparment, Montreal

R. Dugal Trainmaster, London

D.J. David Labour Relations Officer, Montreal

A. Rossignol Mobile Inspection Control Supervisor, St. Luc Car Dept. Montreal


A hearing in this matter was held in Montreal on November 24, 1989.




Dismissal of Carman Y. Houle, St. Luc Yard, Montreal, Quebec.


According to the Company Form 104, Mr. Houle was dismissed for:

(As translated) "being under the influence of alcohol while on duty and while being at the wheel of a society vehicle; for having refused to comply to directives from a Company police officer; for improper consumption of medication causing inability when you were working or about to; for not accomplishing assigned duties and for having slept during work; a violation of the general shop Rules Nos. 3, 13, 14 and 18 at St.Luc Car Department on December 6, 1988.


It is the position of the Brotherhood Railway Carmen that the Company has acted in an arbitrary and excessive manner with respect to the discipline issued Mr. Houle.

That the Company has not proved the allegations contained in the Company form 104.

That the amount of discipline issued For each alleged infraction must be stated separately on the form 104 for said discipline to be considered valid.

Therefore Mr. Y. Houle should be reinstated forthwith, without loss of seniority, without loss of benefits and reimbursed for all time lost as provided for in Rule 285 of the Collective Agreement.

The Company denies claim.

The material establishes, to the satisfaction of the Arbitrator, that on the tour of duty commencing at 23:00 on December 5, 1988 the grievor was discovered asleep in his truck in the St.Luc Yard. When he was awakened by his supervisors, his clothing was dishevelled, his speech was slurred and he smelled strongly of alcohol. His walk also exhibited a distinct stagger. The material further discloses that when the grievor was taken to his locker room, he refused to open one of his lockers and allow it to be inspected by the Company's supervisors. Thereafter, when the grievor was left alone momentarily in the room, a supervisor standing in the hallway outside the room heard the sound of bottles clinking and a locker being closed. A moment later, when the supervisors re-entered the room, they discovered three liquor bottles, one of which was still partially full, partly concealed in the room. Their evidence confirms that there were no bottles to be found when they first entered the locker room area with Mr. Houle.

The grievor had some eleven years of service at the time of the incident in question. His disciplinary record is not impressive. Of particular concern is the fact that on October 21, 1980 he was discharged for consuming alcohol while at work. The infraction was found by the arbitrator to have been committed in the subsequent arbitration concerning the grievor's grievance in relation to that discharge, although he was reinstated without compensation. The Award of Arbitrator Weatherill, dated July 23, 1982 makes it clear that the mitigation of penalty was based solely on the fact that that incident involved a first offence.

The danger and obvious seriousness of employees consuming alcohol on the job, particularly in a heavy industry situation, has been well commented. In a case not unlike the instant matter, heard on September 13, 1984 between the same parties, in the grievance of J.B. Sylvester, Arbitrator Weatherill made the following observations:

Drinking on the job is, in most industrial situations, a serious offence. While the grievor's faculties may or may not have been noticeably impaired at the time he was caught, it is, I think, clear that they would have been impaired had be continued in the course which he had begun. Such an offence would, as a general matter, be grounds for discharge in the case of an employee involved in the operation of trains, and there is no very substantial distinction between such employees and those whose duties involve, as here, the inspection of trains. Quite apart from the dangers to himself which are inherent in the working environment, the potential risk of harm to others must be said to be very great.

The grievor does not have very long seniority, and while earlier demerits had been cleared in early September, 1983, when the grievor had a year's clear record, he had been assessed 10 demerits for a safety offence on September 29, 1983, so that he did not have a clear record at the time of the incident in question. Apart from this actual record, the grievor admitted at the investigation to having bad and consumed alcohol on Company premises on two or three previous occasions. The grievor has a drinking problem, but appears to have done nothing about it until after the incident in question.

Clearly, there was just cause for discipline in the circumstances. Having regard to the grievor's employment history and the nature of his work, the discharge of the grievor was proper.

In the Arbitrator's view the foregoing observations are appropriate in the circumstances of this case. The grievor is not an employee of long service, and the fact of a prior offence for consuming alcohol at work effectively removes any compelling basis for mitigating the penalty in this case. I am also satisfied that the form 104 issued by the Company was appropriate in the circumstances. For the foregoing reasons the grievance is dismissed.

DATED at Toronto this 29th day of November, 1989.

(sgd) M. G. Picher