Arbitrator Rules Against CN
Published: May 2, 2008
Source: TCRC

Just released is the Arbitrators decision in which CN has been found to have violated the terms of the Collective Agreement, and the Canada Labour Code in their use of what was termed as “surge employees” or those considered as not bargaining unit employees. The Arbitrator agreed with the UTU’s position that CN had, in fact, “contracted in” workers, and went on to say:

“ On the law, therefore, there can be no doubt but that the Union is correct.”

Arbitrator Picher commented: “It is clear that that is not permissible under the Canada Labour Code” and found that CN had violated Sections 36 and 56 of the Canada Labour Code, which do not allow an employer to engage a parallel group of employees to perform what is plainly bargaining unit work and to do so outside the terms of the Collective Agreement. In closing, he made it very clear that: “There is no principle of collective bargaining in Canada that is more fundamental.”

In November 2007, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) charged CN in an effort to protect the integrity of this bargaining unit. These charges filed with the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) argue CN violated Sections 24 and 94 of the Canada Labour Code for their hiring of these “surge employees.” The arbitrators decision is one more loss for CN and the UTU International, and will certainly assist the TCRC argument that “CN Rail has taken this course of action in an attempt to capitalize upon the confusion and unrest that it created amongst the employees of this bargaining unit when it, in conjunction with the International President of the UTU, took the position that this bargaining unit was commencing an illegal strike in February 2007, which resulted in a course of events leading to an imposed Collective Agreement that was extremely favourable to CN Rail.”

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference is the driving force in support of uniting rail labour in Canada. TCRC President D.J. Shewchuk is leading the movement within Canada to unite the running trades and is leading the TCRC through an unparalleled period of growth as numerous groups and crafts of rail employees are joining the TCRC throughout Canada.

“For over fifty years the Rail Unions, particularly the running trades, have wanted to join together. This is now a possibility and reality through the TCRC. We have modified the Bylaws to become a true multi-craft Union, responsive to the needs of the membership, with the diversity to effectively represent the traditional crafts.”......D.J. Shewchuk.....President Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.

Our CN UTU sisters and brothers are anxiously waiting to join the TCRC and it has been over one year since the TCRC application for their certification has been filed with the CIRB. Since that time it appears the UTU International has effectively abandoned their Canadian membership, resulting in many of the Canadian UTU members and elected officers filing charges with the CIRB against the UTU International.