N00-07-00016 - Buttons

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Grievance File Number: 
N00-07-00016
Collective Agreement: 
Urban Postal Operations (2007)
Date referred: 
Wednesday November 19 2008
Status: 
Judicial Review
Arbitrator: 
C. Lauzon

Statement

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is challenging the Canada Post Corporation (CPC) policy of prohibiting bargaining unit employees from wearing a button or other insignia to promote Canada’s public postal service. CUPW also challenges CPC’s policy of disciplining employees who refuse to obey the policy directive or an order to remove such buttons or insignia.

 

CPC’s policy and actions:

  1. constitute an illegal attack on the freedom of expression of employees and the Union;
  2. constitute a constraint upon a legitimate union activity;
  3. constitute an abusive exercise of management rights;
  4. violate the provisions of the collective agreement, and more specifically Articles 1, 2, 3 and 5.

CPC is abusing its rights by using the threat of discipline to stifle freedom of expression. Furthermore, over the years, various arbitrators have ruled that wearing buttons or other insignia is a legitimate union activity, which the Corporation does not have the right to prohibit, or even less to discipline employees who choose to express themselves in this way. More specifically, the Corporation is deliberately violating the order issued by arbitrator Rodrigue Blouin in his decision dated September 27, 2006.

Corrective Steps Requested

Interlocutory Order

There is an urgent need for the issuance of an interlocutory order under clauses 9.87 and following of the collective agreement because:

  1. freedom of expression is a fundamental freedom that is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as common law, and because a violation as flagrant as this one necessarily constitutes an emergency;
  2. the threat of discipline and the impact this may have on employees and their families constitute a serious denial of the freedom of expression, and this justifies an emergency order by the Court;
  3. the prohibition on employees to wear a button or insignia to promote the safeguard of the public postal service could permanently compromise CUPW’s legitimate campaign in favour of maintaining the public postal service and against its privatization or deregulation;
  4. the total or partial privatization of the postal service, as well as deregulation in this area, are current issues of the highest importance for CPC employees and CUPW;
  5. without an interlocutory order, it would subsequently be impossible to remedy the serious denial of the freedom of expression of employees and the Union by the Corporation.

 

ACCORDINGLY:

CUPW requests that the Corporation and its representatives be ordered, through an interlocutory order issued under clauses 9.87 and following of the collective agreement, to:

  1. stop prohibiting bargaining unit employees from wearing a button or other insignia in support of the public postal service or against its privatization or deregulation;
  2. stop disciplining employees who wear such buttons or other insignia and stop any other act of retaliation or harassment against employees.

 

CORRECTIVE ACTION REQUESTED BY FINAL DECISION:

CUPW also requests, by final decision, that the arbitrator:

  1. declare that CPC has interfered with the freedom of expression of employees and the Union;
  2. declare that the Corporation has abused its management rights by deliberately violating arbitration awards involving the parties on the wearing of buttons or other insignia;
  3. declare that the Corporation has violated the provisions of the collective agreement;
  4. order the Corporation to stop prohibiting bargaining unit employees from wearing a button or other insignia in support of the public postal service or against its privatization or deregulation;
  5. order the Corporation to stop disciplining employees who wear such buttons or other insignia and stop any other act of retaliation or harassment against employees;
  6. order the Corporation to compensate any employee whose freedom of expression has been violated as a result of this policy or the actions of the Corporation or its representatives.

CUPW reserves the right to request any additional corrective action.