CN guilty of unfair labour practices
April 5, 2005
Back in 2003, the United Transportation Union (UTU) filed two separate complaints to the Canada Industrial Relations Board
(CIRB) against CN.  One concerned unfair labour practices, while the other was bargaining in bad faith.  Hearings were held in
Toronto in November 2003, and in May, July, August and October 2004.  

The CIRB released its decision and reasons on March 24, 2005.

In the first complaint to the Board, the UTU alleged, among other things, that CN engaged in unfair labour practices contrary to
the provisions of the Code that have rendered the arbitration process ineffective.  The UTU alleged that it has to refer nearly
identical issues to arbitration because the employer has taken novel views of the intended meaning of certain arbitration awards.  
The UTU cited what it considers to be blatant disregard of the provisions of the collective agreement, taking the view that this is a
form of intimidation of employees to force compliance with the employer's policies.

In the second complaint, the UTU alleged, among other things, that the Chief Executive Officer's declarations at shareholders
meetings regarding work force reductions and increases in working hours, just as negotiations were getting started, constituted
bargaining in bad faith.  The UTU submitted that the CEO's comments were designed to intimidate the Union and its members
and are part of the employer's intention to import the so-called American model of labour relations to Canada, in defiance of the
Code and its purpose.

CN, surprisingly, didn’t disagree with most of the facts raised by the UTU.  However, they did dispute the Union's interpretation
that its actions are breaches of the Code, and that the events that are the subject of the UTU's complaint are isolated and
unrelated incidents and that CN addressed positively, most of the Union's complaints within the last year.

In response to the bad faith bargaining complaint, CN’s evidence is that the CEO's views voiced at Investors' meetings had been
disclosed publicly prior to collective bargaining.  According to CN, it had been well understood at the time of signing that the
confidentiality agreement did not cover any statements made by the CEO.

The CIRB concluded that CN violated section 94(1) of the Code's provisions as alleged in the UTU’s complaint with respect to the
repeated violations of sections 41 and 51 of the collective agreement.  Accordingly, the board directed CN (the employer) to
cease and desist from violating the collective agreement with respect to these provisions.

With this directive came orders from the board for CN to develop and conduct information and training sessions for all managers
supervisors charged with the interpretation and application of the collective agreements on the proper application of these
provisions of the collective agreements.  CN is to provide the Board and the UTU, within six months of this decision, a
confirmation of the dates on which the information and training sessions have taken place, the attendees of those sessions and
the material covered.

The Board however, dismissed the UTU’s application of their allegations of bad faith bargaining under section 50(b) of the Code.

The Board ordered CN to post the orders made pursuant to their decision in conspicuous locations throughout the workplace.

Click here to read a summarized analysis of the CIRB's decision

Click here to read the full decision of the CIRB
 
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