IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION
CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY
NATIONAL AUTOMOBILE, AEROSPACE, TRANSPORTATION AND GENERAL WORKERS UNION OF CANADA (CAW-CANADA) LOCAL 101
RE: DISCIPLINE ASSESSED ELECTRICIAN A. GIRKIS, TORONTO
Sole Arbitrator: Michel G. Picher
Appearing For The Union:
Abe Rosner – National Representative, CAW, Montreal
Ron Laughlin – Regional Vice-President, Eastern Region, Local 101
Appearing For The Company:
John Bate – Labour Relations Officer, Calgary
Dave Guerin – Labour Relations Officer, Calgary
Gilles Pépin – Labour Relations Officer, Calgary
A hearing in this matter was held in Montreal on November 16, 1999.
Electrician A. Girkis was assessed twenty demerits for a verbal response which he addressed to Supervisor G. Farrell during his course of duty on October 3, 1998 in the Toronto Locomotive Shop.
The Union accepts that the facts of this case can be taken as related by Mr. Farrell. In a memorandum Mr. Farrell, who is a diesel inspector, happened by a locomotive where he saw Mr. Girkis seated, apparently doing nothing. When he inquired as to what Mr. Girkis was doing, the latter related that he had no work to do. When Mr. Farrell indicated that he would contact his supervisor to find some work for him, Mr. Girkis responded that it was none of Mr. Farrell’s business to do so, as his responsibilities were restricted to those of diesel inspector. Mr. Farrell goes on to relate:
I informed Mr. Girkis that I am a supervisor for CP Rail and that everything that occurs in the Diesel Shop is my concern. I stated that his job was to do the work assigned to him and my job was to manage. At this point Mr. Girkis told me to “fuck off”. I informed Mr. Girkis that this was unacceptable from an employee of CP Rail. …
It does not appear disputed that Mr. Farrell was seen by Mr. Girkis as an officious meddler. As an employee in his fifties, with eighteen years of good and discipline free service, Mr. Girkis did not take lightly to being, to use the Union’s term, “scolded” by Mr. Farrell. It does not appear disputed that once his work on the locomotive was complete it was entirely within the normal routine for Mr. Girkis to remain seated in the cab awaiting his own supervisor to give him his next assignment.
While the Arbitrator can appreciate the frustration experienced by Mr. Girkis, I am left with some doubt as to the candour of his own account. He denies having used the phrase “fuck off” in his exchange with Mr. Farrell. He does, however, admit that “… I took this very personal and it upset me that a Supervisor would talk to an employee in this manner.” On the whole I find it implausible that Mr. Farrell’s reaction to Mr. Girkis was prompted by anything less than an exchange in terms as strong as Mr. Farrell relates. Whatever may have been the lines of authority, Mr. Girkis did owe to Mr. Farrell, as to any supervisor, a fundamental obligation of respect and civility.
In my view, however, the assessment of twenty demerits, which is one third of the way to discharge, was excessive given the grievor’s prior years of service and exemplary disciplinary record. Those factors, coupled with the arguably unnecessary approach taken by Mr. Farrell, are elements which can properly be taken into account in mitigation of the penalty appropriate in the circumstances. In the Arbitrator’s view the assessment of ten demerits would suffice in the circumstances to convey to Mr. Girkis that it is not acceptable to use the language which he did with any supervisor. His disciplinary record shall be amended accordingly.
Dated at Toronto, November 22, 1999
(signed) MICHEL G. PICHER