A great victory in favourable shift premium decision for our  Canadian Grain Commission members

It’s not often that adjudicators go beyond a ‘just the facts’ approach to decision-writing.

Yet, that’s just what recently happened as an adjudicator dismissed the employer’s position over the issue of weekend shift premiums and upheld the Union’s arguments with a memorable final paragraph that left no doubt as to the positive outcome for the Union.

Our CGC members on the west coast challenged the employer’s contract interpretation through the grievance process and we are very pleased with the decision that provides useful jurisprudence on the definition of a shift.

Agriculture Union Local 20060 represents some 60 Primary Product Inspectors at the Port of Vancouver.  These Inspectors had received weekend premiums for many years as provided under the terms of the TC collective agreement.

In November 2014, Vancouver CGC management announced that Inspectors working weekends were no longer eligible for weekend premiums and immediately implemented the change denying our members their rightful entitlement under the collective agreement.

The Union immediately challenged the decision through consultation with management.  Our members ultimately filed grievances challenging the shift premium withdrawal and the  issue was recently  adjudicated before the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.

The employer argued that the weekend hours worked did not constitute a ‘shift’ despite the fact that both local management and the workers had long accepted that their weekend hours did constitute a shift and thus was subject to the weekend premium.  The collective agreement was clear not only to the Union, but also to the adjudicator resulting in a strong win.

The Board released its decision on July 23, 2019.  The grievances were granted with an order for retroactive payment to the date of the decision by the employer to cease payment of weekend premiums provided under the collective agreement.

She noted that “black-and-white statements, such as no one at the CGC works a weekend shift, are without foundation at best and reckless at worst. They are not supported by the facts.”

In her memorable final paragraph, the adjudicator went on to write:

“The weekend hours of work are shifts for the purpose of clause 27.02.  Clearly, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck and not even the Herculean efforts demonstrated by the employer’s counsel to make it into a goose can do so any more than painting black stripes on a white horse makes it a zebra.”