TTC rejects union's no-strike pledge

TORONTO, Feb. 10 /CNW/ - The Toronto Transit Commission this afternoon rejected a no-strike proposal by the union representing most TTC employees and instead demanded that the union give up its right to strike forever, prior to the consideration of an essential services bill by the Ontario Legislature.

This morning, Local 113 presented a two-page agreement to the TTC that would preclude any possibility of a strike or lockout during this year's negotiations. Under the union-proposed agreement, any contract issues unresolved by midnight, March 31, when the current contract expires, would be referred to binding arbitration pursuant to Section 40 of the Labour Relations Act. The agreement calls for the arbitrator to issue an award by May 15, 2011.

More than five hours later, the TTC, represented by City of Toronto officials, declined to meet the union face-to-face and handed the provincial mediator an eight-page memorandum to deliver to the union. That agreement would have the three unions representing TTC workers voluntarily declare all their members as "essential workers" until such time as the TTC agreed to revoke the memorandum. Effectively, the Commission has asked the unions for a no-strike agreement in perpetuity.

"We have voluntarily given a guarantee of continuity of service while the Ontario government considers the City's request for legislation designating the TTC an essential service," says Bob Kinnear, Local 113 President. "This was done in good faith to assure the people of Toronto that there would be no interruption of service during this year's negotiations.

"Now the TTC and the City have countered with an intentionally provocative demand that we short circuit the legislative process altogether and voluntarily sign away our collective bargaining rights forever, without an opportunity to make representations to the provincial government on the scope and parameters of any essential services bill. We would also be signing away our rights to seek judicial remedy if we felt that any such legislation, now or in the future, violated our members' rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"The City's position is unreasonable in the extreme and they know it. It is an obvious attempt to denigrate the union's no-strike pledge and further pressure the provincial government to hastily pass an essential services bill without due consideration and consultation.

"Despite this, we will continue bargaining in good faith to reach a voluntary agreement or an arbitrated settlement this year without a work stoppage and we remain ready to sign an irrevocable pledge to that effect." 

Local 113 represents about 95 per cent of the TTC's unionized work force. The remaining unionized workers are represented by Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2 and Machinists' Union Lodge 235.

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

For further information:

Laura Ziemba, 416-712-0412

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Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

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