Toronto transit union ratifies four-year TTC settlement

TORONTO, May 17, 2014 /CNW/ - In a city-wide vote that stretched well into Friday evening, the members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 have voted by 62 per cent to accept a settlement with the Toronto Transit Commission, announced Bob Kinnear, President of the Local. The new agreement will last for four years and expire on March 31, 2018.

"We achieved a ground-breaking ban on the contracting out of all our bargaining unit work, which was our number one priority," said Kinnear in a late-night phone message to the Local's 10,000 members. "Most workers in Canada can only dream of such job security."

There was some opposition in the ranks to the settlement because of differential wage increases. Vehicle Operators, the largest component of TTC workers, will get increases of two percent for each of the first three years and 2.25 per cent for the last year. Other job classifications will receive somewhat lower increases or bonus payments in lieu of wage increases.

In discussing the wage increases, Kinnear took a shot at TTC CEO Andy Byford in his message, saying that the union had done everything possible at the bargaining table to preserve equality and achieve job security.

"It was Andy Byford himself who said of janitorial and clerical workers, and others, that you weren't worth any more. It was Andy Byford who made the price of job protection for all a lower wage increase for some…We acknowledge that he has a job to do. Unfortunately, part of his job seems to be telling the members one thing and then saying something completely different behind closed doors."

The settlement was achieved at the Mediation stage after months of face-to-face collective bargaining failed to produce an agreement. Noted Canadian labour arbitrator Kevin Burkett acted as Mediator in accordance with special Ontario legislation, Bill 150, the Liberal law that took away the Ontario Labour Relations Act right of any union in the TTC to withhold their labour as a bargaining tactic.

The TTC is the only transit system in the province that was affected by Bill 150, a point of contention when the law was passed in 2011 after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford threatened to unleash "Ford Nation" on the Liberals in the fall, 2011 general election if they failed to take away the union's right to strike. The Liberals had previously, in 2008, rejected this option as "undemocratic."

"Our members will continue to serve the public as best we can with the equipment, tools, funding and management that we have," vowed Kinnear. "That includes continuing to fight transit privatization, which has failed around the world to the detriment of taxpayers and riders.

"If people really understood the proven negative consequences of these so-called P3s, they would rise up en masse against them. But both the Liberals and Conservatives are shameless in lying about those consequences because privatization is a useful trick to make governments look better at managing the costs of infrastructure than they are. In the meantime, corporate donors to these political parties rake in the money, like they did with the gas plants, eHealth and ORNGE, among many others. It's a fiscal tragedy at a time when we need those lost billions for better education and health care."

ATU Local 113 represents 10,000 Maintenance and Transportation workers at the TTC and more than 500 workers at York Region Transit. The Local was founded in 1899 and has been in continuous existence since. In the early 1920s, the Local led the movement for a publicly owned and operated transit system to replace the privately-owned Toronto Street Railway Company. A public referendum on the issue saw 90 per cent vote for a public system that became the TTC.

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113

For further information: Bill Reno, 416-223-7366.