SHP - 396




(the "Company")



(the "Union")






Abe Rosner – National Representative

Robert Laroche – C.A.W. Representative


K.E. Webb – Manager, Labour Relations

J.L. Farrer – Area Manager, Mechanical Services

J. Lachance – Area Manager, Mechanical Services

A.H. Brander – Observer


A hearing in this matter was held in Montreal on September 12, 1994.



This grievance concerns the claim of the Company that certain tasks in relation to the inspection and testing of locomotive consists for dispatch should be made subject to the Incidental Work Rule. The Incidental Work Rule, which appears as Appendix XIV of the collective agreement, provides a procedure whereby the work of one craft, in certain circumstances, may be performed by another craft. The dispute is reflected in the Joint Statement of Fact and Issue filed at the hearing, which is as follows:


A claim by the Company that two integrated work assignments constitute integrated work assignments pursuant to the Incidental Work Rule contained in Appendix XIV of Wage Agreement No. 52.2.


On March 24, 1993, the Company proposed a list of fifteen new integrated work assignments. Following review meetings, the Company wrote to the System General Chairmen of the Unions concerned to confirm the conclusion of the review process, the agreement on assignments nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 15, and withdrawal of assignments nos. 9, 10 and 11. The assignments which are outstanding between the signatory parties are the following:

No. 13 – Inspection & Testing of Locomotive Consists for Dispatch

No. 14 – Inspection & Testing of Locomotive Consists for Dispatch


The Company contends that the above-mentioned items (Nos. 13 and 14) constitute integrated work assignments pursuant to the Incidental Work Rule.

The Union denied the Company’s contention.

The Incidental Work Rule originated in an interest arbitration award of arbitrator Dalton L. Larson dated April 11, 1988, and a supplementary award of June 17, 1988. The Larson award did not apply directly to the IAM and IBEW, the predecessor unions to the Union before me, whose work jurisdiction is here at issue. It is common ground, however, that those unions, whose bargaining rights are now held by the CAW, subsequently negotiated an agreement, known as the Incidental Work Rule, whose terms are substantially the same as those awarded to other unions by arbitrator Larson.

The Incidental Work Rule which applies to the dispute before me reads as follows:

1. The purpose of this Appendix is to provide for a procedure whereby, under certain circumstances, work pertaining to one craft, as per the Special Craft Rules, may be performed by another craft.

2. Except as is permitted by this rule, work will be performed by employees in the craft to which such work is now assigned. Notwithstanding any other rules to the contrary, in order to efficiently complete an integrated work assignment involving the work of two or more crafts, a tradesman in one craft may be required to do the work of another craft for short periods of time, provided that the tradesman is qualified to perform the work. Where that work is normally performed with a helper, the helper, likewise, may be required to do the work of the helper of the other craft. The work that may be required to be done under this clause shall include the operation of any equipment or machinery necessary for the completion of the integrated work assignments.

3. The maximum period of time that an employee in one craft may be assigned to do the work of another under paragraph 2 shall be limited to thirty (30) minutes in respect of any one such integrated work assignment.

4. No employee shall be laid off as a direct result of the application of this incidental work rule. (see also a letter written to Mr. Rosner, then Executive Secretary of the CCRSU)

5. Prior to September 24, 1988 the parties will meet to review the 67 integrated work assignments forwarded to the Unions on May 24, 1988. If thirty (30) days following the date of the first such meeting there are any items that the parties are not in agreement constitute an integrated work assignment within the meaning of this rule, either party may submit such item or items to binding arbitration. The arbitrator shall be Mr. J.F.W. Weatherill of Arbitration Services Ltd. or such other arbitrator as the parties may agree upon, or in the event agreement cannot be reached, as determined pursuant to Rule 29.3.

6. The agreed-to changes will not be implemented until final resolution of those items progressed to arbitration. Implementation will take place 30 days following receipt of the arbitrator’s award.

7. In determining whether or not an integrated work assignment falls within the scope of this rule the arbitrator will be bound by the following:

i) Safety.

ii) The time limit of 30 minutes of incidental work per craft per integrated work assignment.

iii) That the employee assigned to the integrated work assignment is qualified to perform the incidental work. (see also a letter written to Mr. Rosner, then Executive Secretary of the CCRSU)

iv) That the change in procedure is necessary in order to efficiently complete the integrated work assignment.

8. In addition to the items mentioned in paragraph 5 above, in the three-month period at the start of each succeeding calendar year, the Company will be free to present a list of further proposed integrated work assignments to the General Chairman involved. The same procedures of study, final resolution (if necessary) and implementation as provided for above will apply.

On March 24, 1993, the Company submitted to the Union, pursuant to paragraph 8 of the Rule, a proposed list of 15 integrated work assignments touching the jurisdiction for the then six Shopcraft unions. Agreements were reached on ten of the proposals, three were withdrawn by the Company and two, which are the subject of this arbitration, remain unresolved and have been progressed for arbitration pursuant to paragraph 5 of the Rule.

The integrated work assignments proposed by the Company are described in its proposal as follows:










Inspect, adjust and repair wheels, brake rigging, brake shoes, piston travel, sand pipes & nozzles, gear cases, suspension bearing caps, journal boxes, knuckles & couplers, uncoupling mechanism, pilots, steps, footboards, grab irons, handrails, safety chains, walkways/platforms, fuel tank bolts, air hoses, pipes & valves, safety relief valve seals, drain condensation, etc.


Machinist 30 minutes


Ensure all switches, circuit breakers and controls are set for proper operation, cab amenities (radios, hot plates, etc.) operating correctly, vigilance recorder cover sealed, etc. Change lights as required. Test operation of TIBS equipment, units loading in forward & reverse, etc.



Electrician 15 minutes






Inspect, adjust and repair exterior of traction motors, cables and covers; M.U. receptacles, main alternator diode fuse, all electrical apparatus for noise, heat or odor. Ensure ground relay switch and reset are sealed and all traction motors are cut in.


Electrician 30 minutes


Ensure correct level of engine cooling water, oil levels of crankcase, governor, and air compressor; check for exhaust, lube oil, fuel and water leaks. Inspect windows, doors, seats, sunvisors, windshield wipers, etc. and ensure air brake control valves are set for proper operation. Test horn, bell and air brakes.



Machinist 15 minutes


Dispatching of locomotive consists is currently performed by both electricians and machinist, with a specific division of labour. Where one tradesman is delayed in making a repair or adjustment to a component/function, the consist inspection cannot be completed and is delayed while the other tradesman is waiting. This proposal is to have each of the tradesmen assist the other in preparing a consist by performing the incidental portions of their respective areas as outlined above.

The material facts are not in dispute. Upon arrival at various running points, following fuelling, switching and cleaning, locomotives and locomotive consists are subject to inspection and servicing by a machinist and an electrician. The tasks now performed by the machinist and electrician are fairly described in the Company’s proposal for integrated work assignments, reproduced above. The thrust of the Company’s position is that there are inefficiencies in the division of labour as between the machinist and the electrician, who work together in the inspection and servicing of a locomotive. The Company cites the example of both tradespersons being required to work at close quarters in the same part of the locomotive at the same time. In that circumstance, under existing conditions, the machinist may be required to stand by while the electrician completes an inspection task, or vice versa. The Company proposes that both tradespersons could share a number of tasks it describes as incidental, such as visual inspection, the positioning of control components such as switches, valves, breakers, handles and connecting or disconnecting control equipment and the testing of consist functions. In other words, as the Company would have it, greater efficiencies would be realized if the machinist and electrician worked as an integrated team, each being able to perform certain incidental tasks previously done by the other. For example, the electrician could perform a routine check of oil levels while the machinist replaced a light bulb or verified the settings of the electrical breaker panel in the cab of the locomotive. On the Company’s submission, where any work of substance needs to be done, such as performing an electrical leakage test or replacing a brakeshoe, that work would still be performed by the tradesperson under whose jurisdiction it would traditionally fall.

The Company stresses that the work in question is relatively basic and could be performed safely within a period of 30 minutes by the members of either craft who were plainly qualified to perform the incidental work. It also argues that the change in procedure is necessary to efficiently complete the integrated work assignment. In the Company’s view, the parameters provided within the Rule are thereby met, and the case is an appropriate one for invoking the Incidental Work Rule.

The Union argues a substantially different view. Citing prior arbitral awards, it argues that the Incidental Work Rule is predicated on work being performed by a dominant trade being expanded to include, to a limit of 30 minutes, work which is incidental to the general task, normally performed by another trade. It submits that the condition precedent to the operation of the Rule is the clear existence of a dominant trade or a "main craftsman" and the contemporaneous work of a secondary trade or "incidental craftsman".

The position argued by the Union is that from its earliest conception the Incidental Work Rule was intended to apply only to truly integrated work assignments. That is to say, when a machinist is performing, for example, the overhaul of a mechanical piece of equipment, and would otherwise be required to stand aside for a matter of minutes while an electrician is summoned to connect or disconnect wires, under the Incidental Work Rule, the minor electrical work could be performed by the machinist or primary craftsman doing the mechanical work. It submits that what the Company proposes in the case at hand goes beyond that original purpose, and involves the reassignment of functions as between two trades when neither is dominant or incidental, simply to achieve greater efficiency. In this regard, the Union refers the arbitrator to the following passage of the award of arbitrator Larson of June 17, 1988:

Meaning of the Words "Efficiently Complete an Integrated Assignment"

In the award I stipulated that an employee in one craft could be required to do work in another for short periods of time "in order to efficiently complete an integrated work assignment involving the work of two or more crafts."

The Unions take the position that the word "efficiently" is similar to the word "timely" which was part of its proposal on this issue. The Companies argue that it simply operates to permit a "main craftsman" to be given an integrated work assignment to achieve greater productivity.

Neither of these positions is entirely correct. The words used in that clause were purposefully chosen to achieve a particular result.

The word "integrated" is arguably superfluous but was used to reflect the totality of a work assignment involving more than one function or skill and more than one craftsman. An assignment that is not integrated but is separate and discrete and can be accomplished by one craftsman will not be governed by the incidental work rule.

The word "efficiently" was not intended to constitute a counterpart to "timely" but was, nevertheless, intended to qualify the application of the rule. If an integrated assignment cannot be accomplished more efficiently by one "main craftsman" within the terms of the rule than by using several craftsmen, the incidental work rule cannot be applied to that integrated work assignment.

The intention was to improve productivity in the shops but where that cannot be accomplished through the application of the incidental work rule and it would be just as efficient to sequence the tasks through several craftsmen, the Companies are not entitled to assign work across craft boundaries. {emphasis added}

The Union submits that the case at hand is no different, in fact or in principle, than the case considered by arbitrator Munroe in SHP #383. That case involved a grievance by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers against the Canadian National Railway Company where the employer purported to invoke the Incidental Work Rule to assign electricians’ trip inspection work on locomotive units at Saskatoon to machinists. It appears that the practice was followed whenever electricians were unavailable, by reason of absence through illness, vacation or otherwise. In that circumstance, the Company would blank the electrician’s position and substitute a machinist to perform the electrician’s tasks. At pp.9-11 of his award, arbitrator Munroe made the following observations:

For present purposes, I will assume (as the company contends) that both the predispatch and trip inspections comprise "… an integrated work assignment involving the work of two or more crafts" within the meaning of Rule 62(a). I will also assume (as the company further contends) that certain efficiencies were gained by the company’s chosen deployment of forces on July 28,1989. Nevertheless, I have concluded that the company’s actions on July 28, 1989 amounted to a misapplication of the Incidental Work Rule. I reach that conclusion because, in my view, the company’s decisions as to the deployment of the machinists and the electrician on July 28, 1989, were not in response to a problem which was intended to be addressed by the Rule. In truth, the problem confronting the company on that date was not one of inefficiencies having arisen due to the application of historical craft lines. Rather, the real reason why the company did what it did was a shortage of electricians on the day shift due to vacation scheduling. Thus, referring back to an observation made earlier in this award, I am of the opinion that the facts and circumstances at hand are outside the intended scope of operation of the Incidental Work Rule.

Elaborating briefly on the union’s statement in paragraph 41 that "… that is precisely what was done on July 28,1989", I simply reiterate that the work associated with predispatch and trip inspections undoubtedly requires two persons; that this was not a situation where the "main" craftsman was asked to do the "incidental" craftsman’s work to the exclusion or partial exclusion of the latter. Rather, this was a case of an additional machinist being substituted for an electrician – i.e. additional to the continuing presence of the first machinist. And, as I have indicated, I agree with the union that that is something which is outside the true purpose of the Incidental Work Rule.

The Union further refers the arbitrator to the award in SHP #354, by this arbitrator, as well as the following comment of arbitrator Weatherill in SHP #264, at p.19:

As I noted earlier in this award, it would not be proper for the Company to subdivide the mechanical tasks so as to arrive at a set of smaller electrical elements which would then come within the 30 minute limit.

In sum, the Union submits that the inspection and testing of locomotive consists involves what is effectively a single work assignment, the elements of which are shared in relatively equal proportions by a machinist and an electrician. The assignments are not susceptible to characterization as the work of a primary craft and an incidental craft, so as to invoke the application of the Incidental Work Rule.

In the arbitrator’s view, the position advanced by the Union, on the particular facts of this case, is to be preferred to that of the Company. What the evidence discloses is that two tradespersons work side-by-side, performing different functions, for relatively equal periods of time, to complete the inspection and servicing of locomotive and locomotive consists at running points. The tasks performed by each of the trades are separate and discrete and, as a general rule, do not involve one tradesperson awaiting the assistance or intervention of another to complete his or her task. The

Company’s position, which is quite understandable, is that given the mix of routine mechanical and electrical inspection functions, it would be more efficient to allow the machinist to perform minor electrical inspection tasks, while the electrician is likewise allowed to perform minor mechanical inspection functions. In that way, the movement of the two tradespersons through the various parts of the locomotive could be minimized, with certain gains in efficiency and productivity. The question before the arbitrator, however, is whether the collective agreement allows the Company to implement those efficiencies in the circumstances at hand, by the application of the Incidental Work Rule.

As noted by arbitrator Munroe, quite properly I think, the general rule within the collective agreements governing the work in question is that mechanical work is work to be performed by machinists while electrical work is to be performed by electricians. The Incidental Work Rule is an exception to the general rule, and it is incumbent upon the Company to establish that the conditions precedent to its application are made out.

This is not a case where the Company seeks relief by allowing a dominant craftsperson the latitude to perform minor incidental tasks which would otherwise have to be performed by the craft which is secondary to the work being performed. The task of inspecting and servicing locomotives is shared equally by machinists and electricians. What the Company seeks to do is to invoke the incidental work rule to effectively allow two tradespersons of equal importance to the operation to perform each other’s craft functions, or parts of them, so as to maximize efficiency. The arbitrator can understand how work swapping of that kind might be desirable, to the extent that it would improve productivity and simplify operations. However, I can find no basis in the collective agreement, and in particular in the Incidental Work Rule, which would allow it. In my view, in keeping with the principles enunciated by arbitrator Munroe, which I accept as properly stated, the work which is the subject of this dispute is not an "integrated work assignment" within the contemplation of the Incidental Work Rule. Rather, it is a mix of separate assignments which are essentially unrelated, save that they are part and parcel of a locomotive inspection. I must accept the submission of the Union that neither of the crafts, be it the machinist or the electrician, can fairly be described as performing dominant or incidental work in relation to an integrated assignment. The misconception which underlies the position of the Company is that the term "incidental" is made to equate with the term "minor". It argues that because such tasks as inspecting windows and windshield wipers, performed by the machinist, are minor in nature, they are incidental tasks which could be assigned to the electrician. That approach departs from the concept of incidental work which underlies the Incidental Work Rule. As noted above, the Rule is addressed to work which is incidental to an integrated task, for example, the connecting and disconnecting of electrical wires as a necessary step in the performance of a mechanical repair normally performed by a machinist. The application of the Rule suggested by the Company is far broader than originally intended, whether by arbitrator Larson or by the parties themselves, and would be tantamount to allowing the Company to swap minor functions as among different trades where the work assignments being performed are not truly integrated. The Company’s proposal is beyond the scope and intention of the Incidental Work Rule.

For the foregoing reasons the arbitrator finds and declares that the proposal of the Company (Proposals 13 & 14) in respect of the inspection and testing of locomotive consists is not properly the subject of the Incidental Work Rule, and the reassignment of tasks which the employer seeks is not appropriate pursuant to paragraph 5 of the Rule. This conclusion does not, of course, prevent the negotiation of any particular terms and exceptions mutually acceptable to the parties themselves.

DATED at Toronto this 27th day of September, 1994.