A BC Supreme Court judge has quashed a bid by Canada Post to retry arbitration decisions that prevented the company from hiring contractors to deliver rural mail in the Kelowna area.
In a decision handed down earlier this month in Vancouver, Justice Nitya Iyer rejected Canada Post's claim the decisions were unclear and said the Crown corporation deliberately didn't follow decisions made by an arbitrator in 2018 and 2019.
"Canada Post’s conduct strongly suggests that it chose not to comply with the 2018 decision because it disagreed with it, not because it was confused about what it said. The court ought not to condone such conduct," Iyer wrote.
"The 2018 decision unambiguously required Canada Post to stop using contract workers ... Canada Post failed to comply with that order."
In early 2018, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers argued that Canada Post was required to hire permanent relief employees and on-call relief employees to fill in for absent rural and suburban mail carriers picking up mail from the Gaston Avenue plant.
Canada Post filled some, but not all of the positions, and hired contract workers to cover the rest.
"Grievance 22 claimed that Canada Post was improperly using contractors to cover RSMC absences and was giving them preferential treatment on work assignments, contrary to various provisions of the Collective Agreement," the judge explained in her ruling.
The arbitrator had ruled the agreement did not allow the company to use employees outside the bargaining unit to fill in for absent carriers.
A year later, the union brought the case back saying Canada Post had not followed the ruling of 2018.
In 2019, the arbitrator concluded that Canada Post could meet its legislated delivery standards without using contractors in violation of the Collective Agreement. Since it had not done so, he assessed monetary penalties against Canada Post.
The Supreme Court justice turned down Canada Post's application for another hearing based on the lengthy time it took to file the appeal.
"Canada Post submits that the delay of roughly 22 months between the date of the 2018 decision and July 17, 2019, when it filed the petition, is reasonable because it did not understand the 2018 decision."
But the judge said the decision was unambiguous.
"Canada Post did not write to the arbitrator requesting clarification of the 2018 Decision. Rather, at the joint union/management meeting in June 2018, Canada Post simply informed the Union of its position that the 2018 decision did not prevent it from continuing to use contractors.
"The petition is dismissed with costs to the Union."