At the centre of a grievance was a comma. Members at the Timmins Airport, Local 00076, were denied overtime pay. In the collective agreement specifying the conditions around which members are to be paid double time, their Employer interpreted a comma in the clause as absolving the Employer from paying double time.
Historically, when many airports moved from the public to the private sector, as in the late 1990s, a standardized collective agreement was drafted with all new airport authorities. Over the years, across the country, terms and conditions changed from airport to airport, but many of these clauses remained unchanged.
On March 19, 2019, 8 grievances regarding this issue were filed by our members working at the Timmins Airport. Subsequently, 3 more were filed, for a total of 11 grievances. A year and a few months later the arbitration hearing was held on November 1, 2020. The Employer decided not to pay employees double time, as required in the collective agreement. His statement to the arbitrator was:
The word “and” is normally read conjunctively in the sense that it joins two or more conditions or concepts.
However, on November 27, 2020, the arbitrator ruled against the Employer stating:
The union points out that there is a comma before the word “and” and submits that it breaks the link between the requirements on the first day of rest and the second day of rest. […]
In the same way that “and” must be given its ordinary grammatical meaning, so too must the use of a comma before “and”.
This challenge represents an important victory for all our members at airports across Canada. This decision reinforces the intent of the language in our collective agreement. It is by coming together that these members won this arbitration decision proving that the Employer had not respected their rights.
To see the full document of the arbitration decision