UTU Canada goes to court over ballot question


OTTAWA -- The United Transportation Union in Canada will seek judicial review of a Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) decision that changed both the form of balloting and the wording on a representation ballot just prior to the ballot being mailed in December to running trades employees of Canadian Pacific Railway. "Running trades" is the term used in Canada to describe train and engine service employees.

When the UTU first applied to the CIRB for a winner-take-all representation election, the choice for CP employees was whether they wanted to be represented by the UTU or the Canadian Council of Railway Operating Unions (CCROU), which was comprised of the UTU and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE).

But in a Dec. 2 decision, the CIRB ruled that there would be a two-part ballot. The first question was to be whether CP running trades employees wished to be represented by a bargaining agent other than the CCROU. The second question on that ballot asked, "If a majority of employees no longer wish to be represented by the CCROU, do you wish to be represented by the BLE or by the UTU?"

Then on Dec. 15, the CIRB issued yet another decision -- this one amending the second ballot question by replacing the word "BLE" with, "Teamsters' Canada Rail Conference."

Prior to the ballots being returned and counted, the UTU Canada filed an application for judicial review with the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal challenging the CIRB's decisions with regard to the two-part ballot and wording of the second question on the ballot. The Teamsters also filed a judicial review of the application at approximately the same time as the UTU.

Separately, the UTU Canada has asked the CIRB to rule whether the Teamsters are the legal successor to the BLE in Canada.

In the meantime, the CIRB has not certified the results of the two-part ballot.

February 23, 2004