Conductor reinstated with demerit points

Termination deemed excessive for violating operating rules
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 08/17/2015

A train conductor who was initially fired for violating reporting rules was reinstated by an arbitrator, but without any back pay and with the disciplinary record. Guy Normandeau, a locomotive engineer with 30 years of experience, grieved his termination from the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad where he had worked as a conductor in the Quebec area up until he was discharged in November 2014. He was terminated for allegedly violating reporting and calling rules in 2013 and again in 2014, which led to the accumulation of 45 demerit points and subsequent firing. Normandeau filed two grievances alongside the Teamsters Canada Railway Conference union (TCRC). Given that Normandeau was a 30-year veteran of the railroad, the union argued termination was excessive. The grievor was first penalized in 2013 with 20 demerit points when a train he was operating between Island Pond, Vermont and Richmond, Que., was delayed one hour pulling into the yard because Normandeau said he needed a meal. The employer said he was disciplined because he did not eat during the designated time periods, as per the collective agreement. The second incident, in 2014, which led to 20 more demerits and termination, occurred along the same route. Normandeau had operated the main line without authority — he only had clearance to operate an auxiliary track. The employer conducted an investigation and determined Rule 85 under the Canadian Rail Operating Rules mandate had been broken. Arbitrator Michel Picher disagreed termination was the appropriate penalty, saying longevity and quality of service must be viewed as a significant mitigating factor. The grievance was allowed in part. “Longevity and quality of service must be viewed as a significant mitigating factor in the instant case,” Picher said in the decision. “While (I) cannot deny the severity of the error committed by the grievor, it is not unreasonable to view the longevity and quality of his prior service as significant mitigating factors to be taken into account.” Pitcher ordered Normandeau be reinstated and to reduce the number of demerits to a total of 45 on his current record. Normandeau would not receive compensation for any wages or benefits lost and without loss of seniority. Reference: St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad and the Teamsters Canada Railway Conference. Jean-Marc Montigny for the company, Aleisha Stevens for the union. Michel G. Picher — arbitrator. July 30, 2015.