10 air force base employees lament after jobs reclassified

Peeved employees not ‘reclassified downward’: Arbitrator

After adjustments were made at a Goose Bay, N.L., Canadian Forces air base, 10 employees were shifted into different categories and saw their pay rates decline.
On Sept. 23, 2016, Serco Canada was awarded a new contract, but operations were scaled back due to a lower rate of activity around the base. Twenty-nine employees were permanently laid off, while others were reclassified.
Jonathan Cull, for example, was given a layoff notice on Oct. 4, 2016. He was employed as a design technician, but on Oct. 21, he was advised: “We are pleased to offer you employment in the position of computer-aided design technician, reporting to the design manager. Your starting wage will be $32.59 per hour. Your start date will be Nov. 7, 2016.”
Despite the new designation, Cull testified he was still doing more than 50 per cent of the tasks of his former position.
Maria Van Dijk, who had worked for Serco for 20 years, was paid $1.50 less per hour in her new position compared to her previous job as a grounds maintenance operative. The new position of roads and grounds operative II included all the same duties Van Dijk did in the previous job category, she said.
”Meteorological briefer/observer” was the job title of Kerry Rideout, who had worked for Serco for 18 years, but on Oct. 4, he was reclassified as a “meteorological observer” and given 48 hours to sign a letter or “this offer becomes void.”
Rideout’s hourly pay was reduced from $45.21 to $23.86. 
Kirk Bartlett, formerly a mechanic lead hand, was moved to a mechanic position also on Oct. 4 but his hourly rate dropped by $1.52.
The grieving employees were displaced from their former positions, which no longer applied in some cases, to lower-rated jobs, and some junior employees were bumped out, said Natasha McLean, site manager. The employees were not reclassified downward, she testified.
In Rideout’s case, for example, weather briefing and forecasting were no longer required by the employer, said McLean. In Cull’s case, the two positions of design technician were eliminated and he accepted the lower-rated job, which still existed, she said. 
Six other employees were also involved in the grievance filed on Nov. 3 by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), UNDE Local 90125.
The employer failed to post the new jobs, which was required under article 18 of the collective agreement, said the union. As well, the 48-hour stipulation was not in article 37.06, according to PSAC, which meant the employer also broke the collective agreement.
Arbitrator James Oakley disagreed with the union arguments and dismissed the grievances. 
“The employer complied with article 37.06 when the grievors were assigned or bumped into lower-rated positions. The process in article 32.02 to claim a higher rate of pay for a position was not implemented, and it was not established that there was a change in duties or responsibilities of a job title listed in appendix A in violation of article 32.02. The grievors did not have their job title reclassified downward, within the meaning of article 27.08. The employer did not violate the collective agreement.”
“Similarly, in this case, the collective agreement does not require the employer to maintain the pay level of employees after they are reassigned to a job title with a lower pay level. The employer reassigned the grievors from their former job title to a new job title. The employer complied with the collective agreement when it paid the grievors the wage rates listed for the job titles in appendix A,” said Oakley.
Reference: Serco Canada and Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), UNDE Local 90125. James Oakley — arbitrator. Darren Stratton for the employer. Doug Hill for the employee. Sept. 27, 2018. 2018 CarswellNfld 500

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