TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE AWARDED $14,000.00 IN LOST WAGES! — ONE POLICY DOES NOT FIT ALL; ANOTHER ONE YEAR MMHE SUSPENSION OVERTURNED” — CANADA POST FORCED TO APOLOGIZE…TO THE MILITARY! — WHAT HAPPENS TO MY GRIEVANCE AFTER I SUBMIT IT TO THE UNION?
TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE AWARDED $14,000.00 IN LOST WAGES!
Earlier this year, the Union advanced a grievance to arbitration concerning Canada Post failing to accommodate a temporary employee on an ongoing basis. This temporary employee suffered an injury outside of work that resulted in her requirement for a workplace accommodation. She furnished the Corporation with the necessary medical information from her physician and requested an accommodation in accordance with the language of article 54 of the Collective Agreement. Her request was initially granted; however, was abruptly ended when Canada Post management improperly declared that as a practice, the Corporation did not accommodate temporary employees. Knowing that her rights had been violated, she filed a grievance. At the arbitration hearing, the Union argued that the Corporation did not exercise due diligence to seek or allow for a proper workplace accommodation for the grievor, had failed its duty to accommodate employees to the point of undue hardship under the Collective Agreement as well as human rights law, and had discriminated against the grievor on the basis of her physical limitations. The Union sought to make the grievor whole for the time that she was refused a workplace accommodation. In his ruling, arbitrator Lanyon accepted that “Some [supervisors] may have been under the mistaken idea that casual/temporary employees did not have to be accommodated” and concluded that “the Employer has an obligation under the Human rights code to accommodate temporary employees”. He further concluded that the employer had to “top up” the grievor to the same number of hours she worked in a month where she was properly accommodated during the applicable time frame. The result was Canada Post having to compensate the grievor for nearly $14,000.00 in lost wages!
ONE POLICY DOES NOT FIT ALL; ANOTHER ONE YEAR MMHE SUSPENSION OVERTURNED”
In 2015, Canada Post introduced a new policy at the PPC that PO5s would be subject to one year MMHE ticket suspensions should they be involved in any alleged accidents, no matter the severity. Employees who were negatively impacted by this misguided policy rightly filed grievances, and the Union argued that this blanket policy was considered disciplinary in nature and that the discipline was unreasonable and without sufficient cause in violation of Article 10.01 of the Collective Agreement.
The Corporation maintained that it was within its right to impose such suspensions, and that the suspensions were not disciplinary in nature. At arbitration, the Union has argued its position and further asserted that the Corporation’s policy was punitive as it denied the affected PO5s the ability to work overtime opportunities requiring the use of MMHE. In a recent decision concerning one of these grievances, arbitrator Korbin ruled that “I am
persuaded the appropriate penalty for the offence in question, in the very particular circumstances of this case, was a two week removal of the grievor’s MMHE ticket”. The result was the grievor being compensated for fifty (50) weeks of missed overtime opportunities, and the Corporation had to cut a cheque in the amount of $9,740.00! This erroneous “one policy fits all” approach taken by Corporation continues to add up!
CANADA POST FORCED TO APOLOGIZE…TO THE MILITARY!
In June of 2015, a letter carrier from North Burnaby who was also a member of the reserve force with the Canadian Armed Forces, was denied military leave to attend training. The Corporation denied her request on the basis that she was not able provide documentation confirming the requirement for her release for the training exercises in advance of her departure. Her inability to provide the documentation in advance stemmed from the temporary absence of her Warrant Officer who was out on a training exercise with another group at the time. The carrier agreed to provide the letter upon her return from the training. The Corporation continued to deny wrongdoing when confronted by the Union, and again stated that the documentation must be made available prior to the commencement of the leave. Consequently, a grievance was filed under article 27.02 of the Collective Agreement. Canada Post’s shameful denial against someone serving their country came to a halt when arbitrator Korbin ruled that “Nothing in [article 27.02] requires written (or even verbal) verification from the military prior to the granting of such leave. While I accept that it is reasonable Employer practice to require confirmation of the bona fides of a military leave request, I note that the Canada Labour Code at 247.7(3) allows for documentary proof to be submitted “within three weeks after the day on which leave begins [emphasis added].” The grievor was given no such after the fact opportunity to establish the bona fides of her leave request”…. “Additionally, the Employer is ordered to provide a letter of apology to [the grievor] for refusing to allow the leave, and to forward a copy of that letter to the relevant military authority designated by [the grievor].” The Corporation stands corrected on the requirement to grant military leave. No word if management was ordered to do any push-ups…
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY GRIEVANCE AFTER I SUBMIT IT TO THE UNION?
The grievance procedure under the terms of the 2016 Collective Agreement remains virtually unchanged from the 2012 contract. However, many of our members remain unfamiliar with the workings of the grievance procedure. This is not surprising because the language of the contract can be somewhat confusing. Here is what happens once a grievance has been submitted to the Union:
Upon receipt of a member’s grievance investigation form, the Union generates a grievance form and presents it to a representative of the Corporation. The representative of the Corporation signs the grievance form, acknowledging receipt, and then copies of the grievance form are sent out by the Corporation to the grievor as well as the Union, as per article 9.21 of the Collective Agreement.
Shortly thereafter, representatives from the Union and the Corporation will meet to discuss the grievance, as per Article 9.22. These discussions are known as first-level grievance hearings. The Union representatives who attend these meetings are generally chief shop stewards and/or the local Grievance Officer, and usually a manager or superintendent who sits on the other side of the table on behalf of the Corporation. It is an informal process; without the benefit of an arbitrator, and without the leverage of a third party many grievances are not resolved at this stage. The reason for this is obvious – a manager is not likely to change their mind about a sanction that they have imposed unless an arbitration date is looming. There are always some exceptions, of course, but the Corporation seems unwilling to settle many grievances at this stage.
Following the first-level meeting, the Corporation will send out a reply to the grievance, as per Article 9.25. In many, if not most cases, this reply will state something to the effect that the grievance has been discussed with a representative of the Union, and it has been determined that there was no violation of the Collective Agreement, and so the grievance is therefore denied. Many members are then left with the impression that this is the end of the line for their grievance or that it has been lost, but that is not the case! This is still the preliminary stage in the handling of the grievance.
Regardless of the content of the Corporation’s grievance reply, an unresolved grievance will be referred by the Union to arbitration, based on the merits of the information contained within the file. The decision to refer a grievance to arbitration is made by a Union Representative in the CUPW National Office – the Corporation has no input into how the Union proceeds with the
grievances that we file on behalf of the membership. It is important to remember that the Corporation does not determine the outcome of our grievances; they are the property of the Union. Therefore, don’t panic when you receive your grievance reply from the Corporation! The Corporation’s grievance replies are frequently nonsensical, but it is the Union that decides how to proceed with a grievance, not Canada Post.
Once a grievance has been referred to arbitration, it is processed on a first in, first out (FIFO) basis as per Article 9.51. This means that grievances are scheduled for arbitration in the same order as they were referred to arbitration. The exception to this rule are grievances that have been filed concerning dismissals. Dismissal grievances are scheduled for arbitration on a priority basis. Once your grievance has been referred to arbitration, it is just a matter of time until it will be assigned to a particular arbitration date.
Some grievances are settled without going to arbitration. Grievances relating to unfavourable reports or letters of discipline, for example, are held in abeyance as per Article 9.106, until their removal from the employee’s personal file as per Article 10.02. In other words, grievances relating to unfavourable reports or letters of discipline are processed in the normal fashion, but they are set aside following the first-level hearing. The grievance remains active, and can be brought out of abeyance in the event that the Corporation imposes subsequent disciplinary actions. Otherwise, the letter is removed from an employee’s personal file after twelve months; long before the grievance could ever get to arbitration.
Once a grievance has been assigned to an arbitration date, the parties will meet once more in an attempt to settle the issue. This is known as a pre-arbitration meeting. As with the first-level grievance meeting, there are no third parties involved, but the Corporation is forced to seriously deal with a grievance because of the pending arbitration date. If the grievance isn’t settled to the Union’s satisfaction, it will end up in arbitration.
This is how it all works, in a nutshell. I hope this helps clarify to you how our grievance procedure works.