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Landmark Ruling: Arbitrator Decides on Legitimacy of COVID-19 Policies

On December 14, 2023, Teamsters Local Union No. 31 received a historic decision that will have a lasting impact on the rights of all workers. The COVID-19 policy at Purolator Inc. was called into question by the Union, and the company was found to have unjustly terminated the employment of owner-operators and placed hourly members on unpaid leave who refused to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.



After an extensive arbitration chaired by Arbitrator Nicholas Glass spanning nearly a year, a conclusion has been reached.



The decision spans across 196 pages, outlining the following key points:


THE ISSUES CONSIDERED

  1. On or about September 15, 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the employer implemented

  2. Employees in British Columbia are represented by the union, a member of the Canada Council of Teamsters which is the bargaining agent for all unionized employees across Canada, pursuant to a federal Certification.

  3. A number of employees in the union’s bargaining unit elected not to be vaccinated. The

  4. There were 14 individual owner operator grievances. There were 8 original individual hourly paid grievances. The evidence was unclear whether there were employees potentially entitled to compensation under the group grievance who did not file individual grievances.

  5. The hourly paid grievors all made the same complaint about being placed on an unpaid leave of absence (“LOA”) and sought the same relief as the group grievance. A number of them were called upon by Purolator to re-attest their vaccination status by November 16, 2022. Some failed to provide an updated attestation by that date and were advised shortly afterwards that their employment relationship with Purolator was “consequently administratively terminated, effective immediately.” The union provided notice to Purolator that this new action was grieved, but reasserted its position that these new complaints were covered by the group grievance. The employer submits these terminations are not before the arbitrator.

  6. The SWP was suspended by the employer on April 30, 2023.


THE DECISION

  1. The hourly paid grievances are upheld. The group grievance is upheld. The grievors are entitied to be compensated for their losses which will include any lost wages and benefits, between July 1, 2022 and their first day of work following May 1, 2023.

  2. The owner operators’ grievances are upheld. They are entitled to be compensated for their

  3. Dan Moes’ grievance is upheld with full compensation from the first day of his dismissal,or first loss of revenue from being denied use of a relief driver, whichever came first.

  4. The administrative non-attestation termination grievances, either individually or as part of the group grievance, are upheld. These grievors are entitled to the same level of compensation as the other grievors in their category.

  5. The res judicata preliminary objection is dismissed.

  6. I reserve jurisdiction to determine quantum with respect to all grievances.

  7. I reserve jurisdiction on any other matters arising, including interpretation, or


 

What You Can Do?

Now that we have witnessed a significant Arbitrator's decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine policy at Purolator, it's crucial to understand that our voices, your voices, can shape the narrative and bring about change. This landmark ruling has far-reaching implications, and we can't afford to let it go unnoticed. Here's what you can do to make a difference:


1. Spread the Word

Share the blog post detailing the Arbitrator's decision on your social media platforms. Use your voice to amplify this message. Encourage your friends, family, and acquaintances to do the same. The more people who are aware of this ruling, the greater the impact it will have.


2. Engage in Conversations

Initiate discussions about the Arbitrator's decision in your social circles, workplace, and community. Encourage open dialogues where people can express their opinions and concerns. By fostering conversations, you help raise awareness and understanding of the issue.


3. Contact Local Media

Reach out to local newspapers, radio stations, and TV channels. Share the blog post and the significance of the Arbitrator's decision with journalists and reporters who cover employment-related topics. They may find this story newsworthy, helping it reach a broader audience.


4. Contact Your Representatives

Get in touch with your local political representatives, whether at the municipal, provincial, or federal level. Share the ruling and express your concerns. Ask them to take a stand on the matter and advocate for workers' rights and medical freedom.


5. Join or Support Advocacy Groups

Connect with advocacy groups, organizations, or individuals who champion workers' rights and medical autonomy. Collaborate on initiatives aimed at safeguarding personal liberties in the workplace and beyond.


6. Educate Others

Educate yourself further on the Arbitrator's decision and the broader implications it carries. Equip yourself with facts and data to counter any misinformation or confusion. By becoming informed, you'll be better prepared to engage in meaningful discussions.


7. Encourage Participation

Encourage fellow MST members and friends to participate in these actions. Together, we can leverage our collective strength to effect change. Share resources and guidance to empower others in their advocacy efforts.


In the spirit of Manitoba Stronger Together, let's ensure that this Arbitrator's decision doesn't go unnoticed or unaddressed. By taking these actions, we can make a powerful statement about the importance of respecting individual rights and freedoms, not only in the workplace but throughout our society.


Remember, every voice matters, and your active involvement can be the catalyst for positive change. Together, we can protect our fundamental liberties and create a better future for all.

Thank you for your dedication to this important cause.




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