March 27, 2006

WEARING UNION BUTTONS

Recently an issue has arisen with delivery employees, who have been wearing “Operation Transparency” buttons or stickers, or other union sanctioned buttons or stickers.

The employer has been ordering employees to remove their buttons in violation of existing jurisprudence.  Employees are being told they can not wear the buttons or stickers while on their route.  Urban employees are provided a uniform while RSMC employees are not provided a uniform.

As stated by Arbitrator Outhouse in the award of Poley CPC No. 86‑1‑3‑2264, absent any interference with production or harm to customer relations, an employee's freedom of expression and their right to participate in LAWFUL union activities CANNOT be validly circumscribed by the employer.

Arbitrator Christie, in CUPW Atlantic Region Grievance R‑01‑91‑0005, stated:

"(1)The wearing of a Union button directly related to the collective bargaining process by a unionized employee is a union activity within the meaning of Article 5 and is protected by that provision of the Collective Agreement as well as by the Canada Labour Code.

(2)The Employer may not forbid its employees to engage in the protected activity of wearing a Union button directly related to the collective bargaining process during working hours unless it can establish that wearing the button has a detrimental effect on its capacity to manage, or on its operations." (Emphasis added)

This issue has been upheld in the regular arbitration process on a number of occasions. The Union is on solid ground when instructing CUPW members, Urban or RSMC, that the wearing of Union button(s) is NOT subject to the “obey now grieve later rule”.

Employees are entitled to wear Union Buttons, Stickers, Shirts, while in the station and when they are on their route. If the employer instructs you to remove the Buttons, Stickers, or T-Shirt, contact the Local Office.

 

In Solidarity

Mike Duquette
President
Scarborough Local