IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION
ST. LAWRENCE & HUDSON RAILWAY COMPANY
National Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers Union of Canada [CAW-CANADA]
RE: reduction of wages of certain es employees
SOLE ARBITRATOR: Michel G. Picher
APPEARING FOR THE UNION:
A. Rosner – National Representative, Montreal
S. Levert –Vice-Président Régional, Montréal
APPEARING FOR THE COMPANY:
A. deMontigny – Labour Relations Officer, Montreal
G. St-Pierre – Human Resources Coordinator, Montreal
A hearing in this matter was held in Montreal on Monday, 10 November 1997.
AWARD OF THE ARBITRATOR
The Union grieves the reduction of wages of certain employees who have the benefit of employment security as former employees of the Angus Shops in Montreal. It appears that the individuals in question exercised their seniority to hold positions as labourers, and in one case to bid down to a labourer’s position, in what the Union characterizes as satisfaction of their obligation to hold work as a condition of retaining their employment security.
The position of the Company is that when vacancies occurred in higher rated positions, and the employees in question failed to bid into those vacancies, or in the case of one employee when he bid to a lower rated position, they were subject to a reduction in wages under article 8.9 of the Job Security Agreement. Article 8.9 concerns the maintenance of basic rates (MBR) and provides, in part, as follows:
Maintenance of Basic Rates
8.9An employee whose rate of pay is reduced by $2.00 or more per week, by reason of being displaced due to a Technological, Operational or Organizational change, will continue to be paid at the basic weekly or hourly rate applicable to the position permanently held at the time of the change providing that, in the exercise of seniority, he
(a) first accepts the highest-rated position at his location to which his seniority and qualifications entitle him; or
(b) if no position is available at his location, he accepts the highest-rated position on his Basic Seniority Territory to which his seniority and qualifications entitle him. The maintenance of basic rates, and four-week guarantees, if applicable, will continue until:
(i) The dollar value of the incumbency above the prevailing job rate has been maintained for a period of three years, and thereafter until subsequent general wage increases applied on the basic rate of the position he is holding erase the incumbency differential; or
(ii) the employee fails to apply for a position, the basic rate of which is higher by an amount of $2.00 per week or more than the basic rate of the position which he is presently holding and for which he is qualified at the location where he is employed; or
(iii) the employee’s services are terminated by discharge, resignation, death or retirement.
In the application of (ii) above, an employee who fails to apply for a higher-rated position, for which he is qualified, will be considered as occupying such position and his incumbency shall be reduced correspondingly. In the case of a temporary vacancy, his incumbency will be reduced only for the duration of that temporary vacancy.
The Arbitrator cannot sustain the position of the Company in this case. While the rationale for its action is understandable, to the extent that it might be thought to be appropriate to force an employee receiving the benefit of employment security to occupy the highest rated position available, there is nothing within the language of article 8.9, which concerns the entirely separate benefit of maintenance of basic rates, to suggest that an employee receiving his or her salary through the operation of employment security is subject to a reduction of wages by the application of the MBR reduction formula. Very simply, the Company has collapsed together the two concepts of employment security and MBR protection in a way not consistent with or contemplated by the terms of the Job Security Agreement. Nor have the Company’s representatives directed the Arbitrator to any provision of the employment security provisions of the Job Security Agreement which obligate an employee to assume any position, beyond the position which he or she initially assumes to protect employment security in accordance with the provisions of the Job Security Agreement, or indeed any formula within those provisions for the reduction of his or her salary in circumstances such as those disclosed in the case at hand.
For the foregoing reasons the grievance must be allowed. The Arbitrator directs that the employees whose wages were reduced by the Company’s application of article 8.9 of the Job Security Agreement be reinstated to their former level of wages, and be compensated for all wages and benefits lost as a result of the
Company’s action. I retain jurisdiction in the event of any dispute between the parties with respect to the interpretation or implementation of this award.
Dated at Toronto this 24th day of November 1997
(signed) MICHEL G. PICHER