SHP - 399




(the "Company")



(the "Union")






John E. Platt – InternationaI Representative

Tom Diggles – General Chairperson

W. G. McMurray – Local Representative


Michael Restoule – Manager of Labour Relations

Ron Leach – Chief Engineer

George Payne – Director, Corporate Affairs

Terry McCarthy – Labour Relations Assistant

Tom Burton – Chief Mechanical Officer


A hearing in this matter was held in North Bay on May 26, 1994.



This arbitration concerns a grievance in respect of the claim of R. Courchaine who was displaced into the Maintenance of Way Equipment Repair Shop. The Dispute and Statement of Issue filed at the hearing are as follows:


Electrician R. Courchaine is claiming rights to displace into the M/W Equipment Repair Shop.


The Union contends that, in accordance with the provisions of Collective Agreement #12, Mr. Courchaine is entitled to use his seniority to displace into the Maintenance of Way Equipment Repair Shop.

The Company disagrees with the Union’s contentions.

The facts giving rise to the grievance are not in dispute. Mr. Courchaine was, at all material times, a mechanical department electrician. When his position in the Main Shops was abolished he sought to displace into the Maintenance of Way Equipment Repair Shop under the terms of Rule 19.11 of the collective agreement. That Rule provides as follows:

19.11 The exercising of seniority within a seniority terminal to displace a junior employee shall not be permitted except when positions are abolished, or rate of pay or hours of work or days off are changed.

The affected employee shall have the right to displace the junior employee in the designated work area of his/her choice with the shift, days off, hours of work and rate of pay of his/her choice except as may be provided in the Special Rules.

For the purpose of this Rule 19.11 the designated work area shall be as defined in bulletining positions in accordance with Rule 19.8.

Such employee initially affected shall be given, during his/her regular working hours, as much advance notice as possible but, in any event, not less than twenty-four hours. The affected employee shall make his/her intentions known within forty-eight hours of notification and subsequent displacement shall be made without undue delay. The Local Committee shall be consulted.

The facts and arguments advanced by the Company, however, give the arbitrator pause. There is ample reflection, within the terms of the collective agreement, of the understanding of the parties that maintainers, being employees employed in the Maintenance of Way Equipment Repair Shop, stand on a separate and closed seniority list. That much is reflected in the provisions of a special agreement signed between the Company and several shop craft unions, including the IBEW, on March 15, 1988, which is appended to the collective agreement. That agreement concerns the method of selection and assignment of employees to work in the Maintenance of Way Department and provides, in part, as follows:

1. Source of Employees Maintainers will be drawn from the crafts represented by the Intentional Association of Machinists and Intentional Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

3. Seniority

(a) Seniority of "Maintainers" will commence on the date of transfer to such classifications. Effective with the signing of this agreement, present maintainers will be accorded seniority as "Machinist maintainer" or "electrician maintainer", as the case may be, using their present seniority dates. All maintainers will have home terminal seniority and system seniority.

(b) Employees transferring to this group will retain their seniority standing and will continue to accumulate seniority on their respective craft seniority lists.

(c) After serving as a maintainer for a minimum period of two years, an employee may request the right to bid on a bulletined position in his/her original craft stating the reason for which request is made. The request will be judged on its merits and its allowance will be subject to the mutual agreement of the Chief Engineer, Chief Mechanical Officer and the local committee of the craft involved. Employees returning to a craft position under this clause will immediately be removed from the maintainers’ seniority list.

(d) A maintainer appointed to a position with the company not covered by this or any other collective agreement will retain seniority rights and continue to accumulate seniority as a maintainer. If released from such position, the employee may only exercise seniority to his/her home seniority terminal displacing the junior machinist maintainer or electrician maintainer, as the case may be, at the terminal.

(e) In case of a reduction in staff or displacement, the laid off maintainer will be permitted to return to his/her original craft by displacing the junior person in his/her respective classification.

It is clear from the foregoing that employees in the Company’s operations can hold and exercise seniority separately within their respective crafts seniority lists, and within the seniority list established for maintainers under the terms of the maintainers’ agreement. There is, in other words, a separate and discrete category of seniority for maintainers assigned to the Maintenance of Way Equipment Repair Shop. It is common ground that in the instant case Mr. Courchaine does not hold any such seniority. In the result, he is without seniority to exercise within that part of the Company’s operations. In the circumstances disclosed, the general provisions of Rule 19.11 are plainly qualified by the more specific agreement between the parties governing seniority in the maintainers ranks.

For the foregoing reasons the grievance must be dismissed.

DATED at Toronto this 8th day of June, 1994.