Engineers denied transportation expense

Union argued collective agreement entitled them to pay

Two engineers at BFI Constructors in the Regina, Sask., area will not be paid for the daily commute, an arbitrator has decided.
The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) filed a grievance against BFI, saying the construction company failed to pay a daily transportation expense to operating engineers who work in Regina and are local residents, as defined by the collective agreement, which entitled them to pay.

According to the agreement, local residents living beyond 30 kilometres of the project will be paid 54¢ per kilometre from their home to the edge of the “free zone” and the return trip. A local resident is defined as one living within 80 kilometres of a project, but outside the cities of Regina and Saskatoon.

Sean Daly and Dale Temple are two operating engineers who were dispatched by the union to work for the employer on a project in Regina, and at the time were living in Moose Jaw and Fort Qu’Appelle respectively. Both resided within 80 kilometres of the project, but did not receive the transportation expense they claimed.

According to the employer, the collective agreement clearly states the daily transportation expense is not to be paid on projects in Regina or Saskatoon. The employer further argued that it is inappropriate to deal with interpretation grievances that have not been subject to negotiation in the construction industry, where collective agreements are negotiated on behalf of all unionized employees in the industry.

“If the collective agreement is interpreted and applied in the manner sought by the union, this will affect 35 other employers in the same trade division, as well as employers in other trade divisions who have had this uniform language in place for some time in collective agreements with these trades,” the employer said.

The union, however, said the employer’s interpretation of the collective agreement was non-sensical, and that the employer’s interpretation of the two articles together is that employees who travel from Regina to work on projects in Moose Jaw get the mileage rate while vice versa they do not.

Arbitrator William Hood said there were two ways to read the local resident definition, one being that local residents are employees not residing in Saskatoon or Regina, and residing within 80 kilometres of a project. The other way would be that local residents are employees residing within 80 kilometres of a project that are outside of Regina and Saskatoon.

“The ‘but’ in the definition of local resident arguably can be read to qualify the location of the project to projects that are ‘outside the cities of Regina and Saskatoon’ rather than to the residences of the employees that live outside such cities,” Hood said.
Therefore the grievance was dismissed.

Reference: BFI Constructors and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 870. Alan McIntyre for the employer, Gary Bainbridge for the union. William Hood – arbitrator. Feb. 5, 2016.

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