Canadian Labour Reporter

April 27, 2020

Canadian Labour Reporter is the trusted source of information for labour relations professionals. Published weekly, it features news, details on collective agreements and arbitration summaries to help you stay on top of the changing landscape.

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8 Canadian HR Reporter, a HAB Press business 2020 ARBITRATION AWARDS ARBITRATION AWARDS On Friday, July 12, 2019, there was a fire at Rockshield's mill that forced the company to temporar- ily lay off employees. The follow- ing Monday, July 15, Rockshield recalled several employees who didn't have the most seniority. The next day, the mill returned to full operation and all remaining workers on layoff were recalled. The union filed a grievance on the behalf of employees who had more seniority than those who were recalled on July 15, claim- ing they had been overlooked for work on that day contrary to the collective agreement's senior- ity clause. The union demanded compensation for the full day of work those employees missed. The union argued that the em- ployees in question were entitled to exercise their seniority in order to get called into work when the mill resumed operations on July 15. In this case, employees were being recalled to do similar work in the plant when operations re- sumed, and some of the employ- ees who weren't initially recalled on July 15 were qualified to per- form much of the work that was done by junior employees. The union interpreted the ex- ception clause as a restriction on the right of employees to bump into other jobs if their layoff was because of a breakdown, as such a layoff was short-term and could cause undue hardship for Rockshield if a "chain of bump- ing" was started by a breakdown. The seniority exception was "meant to address that possible hardship but was not meant to restrict an employee's right to be recalled before junior employ- ees," said the union. Rockshield countered that the exception article was triggered by a breakdown and, once it was triggered, all seniority rights were suspended for up to 48 hours. Seniority rights were still protected, as they were restored if the breakdown-related layoff exceeded 48 hours. The arbitrator agreed with Rockshield that a breakdown au- tomatically triggered the clause suspending seniority rights and that clause remained in effect for the first 48 hours of the break- down. In this case, the break- down happened on a Friday, so the breakdown provision re- mained in effect on Monday, July 15 since the mill didn't operate on weekends. The arbitrator also found that collective agreement's language was clear in that both parties intended to suspend senior- ity rights in in a specific circum- stance — a breakdown — for a specific period of time — 48 hours. In addition, the exception clause describes both a suspen- sion of "seniority rights to anoth- er job the same day" as well as "for the following day" — encompass- ing both the process of bumping to another job to avoid a layoff as well as being recalled after a lay- off, said the arbitrator. "I am persuaded that the inter- pretation most in keeping with the provisions of this collective agreement is that the parties in- tended to suspend an employee right to both bumping and recall for the first 48 hours of a break- down," the arbitrator said in dis- missing the grievance. Reference: Rockshield Engineered Wood Products and United Steelworkers, Local 1-2010. Diane Brownlee — arbitrator. J. Paul Cassan for employer. James Fyshe for employee. March 5, 2020. 2020 CarswellOnt 3759 Employer allowed to temporarily recall junior employees first Summer student's account of incident was credible

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