Maritime Employers Assn v International Longshoremen's Assn, Local 1039

Document Type

Arbitration Decision

Publication Date



Management Rights, Negotiations, Collective Agreement, Supervisor Requirements, Job, Foreman


Negotiations for renewal of the Collective Agreement between the two Parties resulted in a Memorandum of Agreement with respect to all matters in dispute except for proposed changes in the section governing manning requirements. Rather than face an impasse on this issue, the Parties agreed to continue the use of the disputed clause as outlined in the existing Agreement and allow an Arbitrator to decide the contents of the clause in the new Agreement. The wording of this clause had long been in dispute and the Parties had recently gone to arbitration over the interpretation. The disputed clause set out the requirements for supervisory personnel, i.e. either a walking boss or a foreman, for each "Job," based on the number of men working. Disagreement arose over the definition of the word "Job," in which the Union made concessions in its proposals submitted in the Memorandum of Agreement. That left the only issue in dispute the case in which two jobs being done simultaneously, other than non-ship work, to what extent the foreman employed on each job be a working foreman based on the number of men he is supervising. Management's position was that a foreman should be a working foreman for four men on a job except in the case of a conventional ship where men are working in separate holds. The Union contended that the foreman be a working foreman for three men on the job. The serious issue was the number of Union members, including foremen and walking bosses, who must be hired, especially when working on container ships, not whether supervisory premiums were to be paid, since the wage differential was small. The M.E.A. argued that up to six men could work effectively without a non-working foreman, as evidenced by the Agreement in the case of non-ship work, except in conventional ships where the proposal made exception. They stressed that work on a container vessel is repetitious and does not require constant supervision. They also noted that in the Port of Halifax, the primary competitor to the Port of Saint John, the degree of supervision is a management decision. The Union maintained that the historical difference in Union jurisdiction and trade demarcation lines between Halifax and Saint John meant that the Halifax experience could not be called upon. They submitted that jobs done for any one Company were more physically spread out than ever and therefore the Company's walking boss may not be readily available. Consequently non-working foremen were necessary for each job to proceed efficiently. The Union also stressed the concessions they had already made on the definition of "Job."


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