|Temporary business reductions and subsequent layoffs at CN
CN has been implementing temporary business reductions that they suggest are necessary in response to the recent economic
conditions and reduced revenues and traffic at CN. These reductions have caused layoffs of several CAW National Council 4000
members all across Canada, from Locals 4001 to 4005.
The reductions, thus far, have all been implemented as temporary business reductions where members are receiving 4-days notice
pursuant Article 13.2 of Collective Agreement 5.1 and are then required to exercise their seniority under the terms of Article 13.3.
As CN suggests at this time that the reductions are only temporary, the provisions of Article 8.1 of the Employment Security and
Income Maintenance Agreement (ESIMA) are not applicable at this point in time. If these reductions are to become permanent, then
members who were adversely affected should be afforded the benefits of the ESIMA.
Thus far, reductions have occurred within the following Mechanical Departments:
Montreal – 1; Toronto – 9; Winnipeg – 7; Saskatoon – 1; Edmonton – 4; Kamloops – 1; Vancouver – 1
There were no actual layoffs experienced at Saskatoon and Kamloops, whereas the Company blanked one permanent position at
each location following the retirement of two Agreement 5.1 members (one at Saskatoon and one at Kamloops).
Other reductions have occurred at Transportation Service Centres and 6 permanent positions at the Crew Management Centre
(CMC) in Edmonton. The reductions in the CMC lead to a reorganization of Crew Dispatcher desks and changes to hours and rest
days in accordance Article 12.5 of Agreement 5.1.
The Company was forcing members who were adversely affected by Article 12.5 changes to displace to another permanent position
immediately, not allowing them the opportunity to review their options within the CMC as Article 13.3 provides (make your
intentions known on which position you will displace on within two working days and work that position within three). The
Company (Labour Relations) suggests that Article 13.3 is not applicable in the application of Article 12.5.
CAW Council 4000 Regional Representative Barry Kennedy disagrees and has challenged the Company on their interpretation. He
contends that based on the fact that Article 12.5 clearly states that employees who are affected by an Article 12.5 change are to
“exercise their seniority” to another permanent position, the exercise of seniority is covered off under Article 13.3 – the only Article
that speaks of how employees exercise their seniority. Article 13.3 dictates the time frame employees have to place. Moreover,
Article 12.5 makes no specific reference to employees having to place immediately, because this contract language existed at a time
when members could take as long as they wanted to displace on another permanent position (both under Articles 12.5 and 13.3).
The time frame to place did not appear in Article 13.3 until after the Justice George Adams award in 1995 when CAW members were
locked out and legislated back to work.
Article 12.5 restricts employees to displace only within the department and not within the terminal, which is the reason for the last
sentence in 12.5 which states: “Such employees will not be considered as displaced within the meaning of Article 13.” But the
Union informed the Company that we are of the standpoint that if a member cannot hold a permanent position within the
department at the time they are affected by an Article 12.5 change, within the time frame set out in Article 13.3, then members are
afforded to displace outside the department to a job for which they are qualified or suitable and adaptable.
Labour Relations says that our interpretation sounds reasonable, but they have not officially commented if they agree to the point
that this reasonable interpretation will be applied in this manner. The Union is prepared to challenge the Company on this point by
way of the grievance procedure.
On the Mountain Region, Regional Rep Kennedy has written the Vice President and Director of Labour Relations asking to reverse
the reduction and subsequent layoff at the Thornton Yard Diesel Shop at Vancouver. He has also written and will meet with the Sr.
Vice President for Western Canada and Alberta General Manager in regard to making a business case to reverse the recent
reductions at Edmonton at the Fleet Management garage (1), Engineering (1) and Car Management (1).
Kennedy is asking that the Company reverse these decisions on account there already exists blank bargaining unit positions at the
Thornton Shop and at Car Management, and that the Fleet Management OSC Garage in Edmonton is not concurrent with traffic
patterns to justify its reduction based on a downturn in traffic. The Garage Clerk position that was abolished inherited clerical work
from Saskatoon and Calgary when the Company previously eliminated similar positions at those locations, meaning the job remains
Kennedy also expressed concerned by the recent announcement by Engineering to abolish a position almost in unison with another
member requesting the right to displace onto an a clerical position in that department, the member who lost her clerical job at the
Fleet Management garage, which on first impression, appears to have been done simply to avoid having to train an employee.
We will continue to post updates on this story as the information becomes available.