CAW addresses CN's reclassification of Crew Dispatchers On October 13, 2004, CN advised the Union that they would be reclassifying the Senior Crew Dispatcher positions within the Company's Western Operations Centre in Edmonton effective November 5, 2004. This change would see a reduction in pay from ‘J’ Level to ‘I’ Level. The Company implemented this change pursuant Article 21.7 of Agreement 5.1. In a separate notice to employees dated October, 20, 2004, the Company advised that this change stems from the “erosion of duties” on these ‘J’ Level positions.
The Union submitted a grievance on the matter, contending that there has been no significant change to the duties of Sr. Crew Dispatcher since the positions were first created back in 1994; therefore, contended that there should be changes made to the rate of pay. The Union also requested that should the Company present sufficient evidence to support an "erosion of duties," as they contend, then such erosion was caused by operational and/or organizational changes that require the Company to issue an Article 8 notice. Accordingly, the members adversely affected would then be entitled to incumbency payments in keeping with Article 8.9 of the ESIMA.
The Union and Company held a meeting to discuss the issue at length, including the Union's grievance which now sits at Step 3. This meeting was held on December 15, 2004. During the meeting, the Company discussed reclassifying all day shift Crew Dispatchers to ‘J’ Level rate of pay, based on their records, which showed the day shift having a higher volume of work as compared to the afternoon and midnight shifts. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Company served the Union written notice that they would reclassify most day shift Crew Dispatchers to ‘J’ Level.
The Union followed up with a letter dated December 17th, respectfully declining what we viewed as an offer of resolution, quoting applicable provisions of the collective agreement that conflict with the rationale for this change. The Union also requested any changes to the day shift rate of pay be held in abeyance pending further discussions and submission of a business proposal that the Union would submit early in the New Year.
Unfortunately, the Company went ahead with the change causing, as the Union previously predicted, much animosity amongst those employees who view performing the same duties with the same responsibilities and with the same volume of work as the day shift, albeit being paid less.
The Union is upset that the Company would go ahead with these changes after we asked to hold the matter in abeyance until after the New Year. "They have opened up a real problem," explained Council 4000 Regional Representative Barry Kennedy.
"The collective agreement does not contemplate that the rate of pay for a position is dictated by the volume of work. Rates of pay are established maintaining uniformity based on the character of the duties and/or the responsibilities," explained Kennedy. "The volume of work, particularly in environments such as Crew Management, fluctuates; therefore, basing a position’s rate of pay on work volume is both difficult and unfair, thus why the volume of work is not part of determining rates of pay for positions."
The Union explained to the Company that some terminals see evening or midnight shifts regularly order more trains than day shift. In some cases, the day shift employee may not be as open for supplying information or assistance, meaning they receive less calls. Clearly, in these cases, a Crew Dispatcher working nights has a legitimate complaint as to why they should be paid less. "Again, that's why rates are not based on work volumes," said Kennedy.
This is a unique set of circumstances that caused the Union to amend their initial Step 3 grievance. "He can be the bad guy now," explained Kennedy of the WOC's General Manager Albert Nashman. "By the Union challenging the Company on the day shift change, it makes us look as we are attacking our day shift members in the WOC for receiving a pay increase, when all we are doing is ensuring the collective agreement is being adhered with, which thus makes it fair and equitable for all CAW WOC members."
The Union is requesting that the Company maintain uniformity based on the character of the duties and/or the responsibilities, as per the clear terms set out in Article 21.7 of Agreement 5.1, and have now requested pay increases from 'I' to 'J' for all CAW WOC working in the Crew Management function.
CAW conducts study on Agreement 5.1 Bus Driver duties As was reported on this web site on January 24th, CN solicited interest from the CAW in entering into a mutual arrangement whereby three of the four existing CAW Agreement 5.1 Bus Driver positions at Thornton Yard in the Greater Vancouver Terminal, would be changed to combination TMC/SCC/Bus Driver positions. The Company would reassign employees, on an ad hoc basis, from off the Bus Driver duties to either a TMC or SCC vacancies when required. The subsequent vacancies on the Bus Driver jobs would then be filled by UTU members ("Utility Men"), or even Assistant Superintendents.
"CN is asking that the Union allow them to violate a section of our collective agreement that took many years to achieve through collective bargaining, that being work ownership provisions," said CAW National Council 4000 Regional Representative Barry Kennedy.
Following a letter Kennedy sent CN's Sr. Vice President for Western Canada, Peter Marshall, Marshall requested a conference call with Kennedy on February 7th, along with BC South Superintendent Eric Blokzyl and CN Labour Relations.
"I was hoping for more from this call," explained Kennedy.
Marshall advised that the current Bus Driver positions only have between two to two-and-a-half hours of work each shift, not enough to sustain full time - dedicated Bus Drivers. We have more value-added areas to employ three of the four Bus Drivers, which will assist in relieving intermittent shortages within the TRS group, explained Marshall. "We do not see the need to hire in the 5.1 group when we have surplus employees from other bargaining units available to fill-in as required."
In response, Kennedy said this mindset clearly contradicts the terms of the CAW's collective agreement. "Failing to hire additional staff, whether that be for immediate spare and vacation relief, or for potential permanent employment down the road, sees a further erosion to our bargaining unit, which is both concerning and unfair," explained Kennedy.
Mr. Kennedy followed-up with a conference call with Local 4001 Representatives Ron Shore and newly elected Vice Local Chair for TRS Thornton, Maurice Anthony, to determine what volume of work the present CAW Bus Driver positions have. Accordingly, the Union is conducting a study to determine the actual volume of work.
What steps will be taken next?
If it is determined that there is a full 8-hours worth of work, or even less than 8-hours, but where it can be shown that the remaining hours are being performed by UTU or Company Officers, thus a violation of Article 2.2 (work ownership), then the Union will challenge CN up to and including arbitration if necessary. The Union hopes to fast track the process in time for an April arbitration hearing if possible.
In the meantime, CN is going through with its plans to train the existing employees working as Bus Drivers who are not qualified as TMC's, and will reassign them from off the Bus Driver positions as required.
The Union already has a few grievances submitted that pertain to this matter, whereby we contend the Company is violating the collective agreement and Article 2.2 by:
1.) Not allowing a member on spare & relief to place on one of the Bus Driver positions that was vacant, and where the Company relies on UTU or Company Officers to perform the work;
2.) Not bulletining one of the four Bus Driver positions that became vacant as a result of a member being promoted to a non-schedule position;
3.) Various overtime claims for the Company not calling Agreement 5.1 staff for overtime on vacant Bus Driver positions, instead, using members of other bargaining units or Company Officers.
We will continue to post information as it becomes available.
National Memorandum from New Council 4000 President Bob Fitzgerald To: Members of National Council 4000 From: R.J. Fitzgerald - President Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Membership of the Council for supporting my bid for the Presidency. The desire for change was overwhelming and I truly appreciate it.
In campaigning for this position, I had an opportunity to communicate with many of the members and got a great appreciation for their concerns and aspirations within the workplace and within the administration of the Council.
Our challenges will be many as we embark upon a new style of management with he old idea of suppressing working people and abandoning the traditional discipline process. It seems to me that the human element of the workplace has taken a back seat to the quest for profit, market, and share price.
In an e-mail from the CEO at Canadian National Railways, he says the following:
“Also, the UTU leadership has publicly accused CN Management of using intimidation and harassment with our employees. I don't accept this criticism but we must ensure all employees are treated fairly and with respect. Remember, we know that the vast majority of our UTU represented employees do a great job and they should receive on-going positive recognition and feedback from you.”
I am reluctant to suggest that he said this knowing it not to be true, but, I would suggest that people inflicting this kind of treatment of our members may not be communicating it to him in a straight manner. Do they walk in to his office and say “Guess how I am getting my kicks today?” Or do they shield it behind some existing policy that can be manipulated into such brutality? Who knows? In any event, we will continue to work on this very serious problem.
I understand that we are not without challenges in the other railways and in our different groups. However, the situation at Canadian National is uncommonly brutal and worthy of special mention.
I am looking forward to working with Bother Coolen and his team in addressing the VIA Rail issues. I am equally excited about developing a working relationship with the Bargaining Representatives across the Country.
The election results come on the heels of the festive season and most of January was taken up by transition. Now, it is time to get down to work.
The administrative matters within the Council are not without challenges as well; the biggest being the finances. Our problems in this regard are a matter of common knowledge now and I am prepared to discuss them with the executive and the Local Leadership in the coming weeks. We are going to have to look at ways of balancing things financially without affecting our ability to operate and represent. With innovation and working together, I am sure we can get over this hurdle.
As part of the transition, we have decided to close the President’s Cremazie Blvd. office and move it to our existing office at Greenfield Park, Quebec. I am pleased to announce that Sylvie Bruneau will remain with us to work out of that office.
The address and numbers are as follows:
2126 Victoria, Suite 205, Greenfield Park Quebec J4V 1M9 Phone# 450-671-0119, Fax# 450-671-7135.
The Council’s email address will now be: email@example.com. I will be working out of both the Toronto and Montreal offices.
For reasons mentioned above, I will continue to maintain the Great Lakes Regional Bargaining Representative responsibilities until at least the next Council Executive Board meeting which I hope to convene in mid-March. Servicing both positions will be a multifarious task that will need the patience and assistance of the Leadership within the Council. It is also my desire to have a conference call with all of the Bargaining Reps and the Executive Board.
I want to say that our desire for change does not diminish the fact that Brother Rick Johnston has dedicated his entire adult life to serving the Union both in CAW Council 4000 and the former CBRT&GW. We acknowledge and thank him for such endeavours and commitment. We also recognize that Rick is the founding President of this Council and we appreciate and respect him for that accordingly. I trust that all members join me in wishing Rick and his family all the best and success in his future activities.
Remember, the trick to overcoming adversity is solidarity. As I have quoted many times before “A house divided against itself cannot stand. We must work together to ensure our house of Labour stands collectively.”
I am committed to being visible and accessible to the membership. You can call me any time. Again, thank you for your support. I look forward to continuing to work for you and with you.
UTU/CN reach tentative agreement CN and the United Transportation Union (UTU) announced today that they have signed a tentative labour contract covering approximately 2,600 conductors, assistant conductors, yard service employees and traffic coordinators in Canada.
Details of the three-year contract, retroactive to January 1, 2004, are being withheld pending ratification by the UTU membership. In general, the agreement provides for wage, benefit and quality of work-life improvements.
John Armstrong, Vice-President of the UTU, said: “We believe this tentative agreement successfully addresses a range of UTU issues, including work-life quality for our members. We’re eager to return our focus to what our members do best – moving trains."
Negotiations are still ongoing between CN and the IBEW and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.