Arbitrator sustains National Policy Grievance N00-07-00010; Compulsory overtime assignments to be selected by seniority
Canada Post may no longer deny Letter Carriers the use of their seniority rights when being forced to work overtime. On February 13, 2009, Arbitrator Guy Dulude ruled in favour of the Union by sustaining National Policy Grievance N00-07-00010. In doing so, he reinforced the Union’s position that all overtime assignments are subject to the provisions of Article 11 (Seniority).
The dispute arose after Canada Post issued a directive to the field regarding the use of seniority. In that directive, Canada Post advised that Letter Carriers would not be allowed to use their seniority rights in selecting their assignments if forced to work overtime.
The Corporation’s directive continued to allow employees who volunteer for overtime the right to use their seniority in selecting their overtime assignments but prohibited employees from using their seniority to select assignments when conscripted to work compulsory overtime. The effect of the directive frequently left senior employees without any rights in terms of selecting their overtime assignments.
As a result of job deletions, staffing freezes, and inflexible corporate policies such as the Clean Floor Policy, Canada Post has created a situation where it is frequently unable to meet its self-imposed staffing requirements. Rather than deal with its staffing issues by adding or filling positions, Canada Post has exacerbated growing overburdening problems by forcing employees to work compulsory overtime.
Under Article 15.14 of the Collective Agreement, Canada Post may compel letter Carriers to work overtime, but only after it has first exhausted all other measures to obtain volunteers.
In the event that the Corporation is unable to obtain sufficient volunteers to work overtime by following the system of equal opportunity in descending order, then the Corporation shall, in accordance with the system of equal opportunity, assign the required number of employees to work overtime in the ascending order from the appropriate list.
The Collective Agreement places a positive onus on Canada Post to minimize compulsory overtime. Article 15.14 states that the Corporation “shall take reasonable measures” to ensure that assignments to work overtime in ascending order of the appropriate list will be “minimized”.
Subject to the Corporation’s efforts in finding volunteers, the Collective Agreement provides license for forced overtime, but the selection of overtime assignments must still be determined by one’s seniority, in accordance with Article 17.04 (e):
Allocations of all overtime are subject to the provisions of Article 11. Unless a part-time employee has more seniority than other employees … he or she must wait until more senior employees pick the portion of the route they wish to cover.
In the Union’s view, Canada Post’s refusal to allow employees to use their seniority rights was designed to punish employees who prefer not to work overtime.
Indeed, one of the Corporation’s witnesses, who testified under oath, acknowledged that the Corporation refused to allow employees to use their seniority as an “incentive” for voluntary overtime.
In the future:
- As confirmed by the Collective Agreement, seniority will be the criteria used to determine one’s assignment, whether on an extended hours or overtime basis, and regardless of whether it is performed on a voluntary or compulsory basis;
- The selection of assignments cannot exclude employees who have been offered overtime in accordance with the citywide volunteer overtime list contemplated by Article 17.04 (a) (iv); and
- Canada Post’s obligations regarding forced overtime have not changed. Canada Post may not force Letter Carriers to work overtime without first taking all reasonable measures to offer the overtime to employees willing to work the overtime on a voluntary basis.