Toronto transit union will make no comment on status of discipline of TTC Operators related to 'texting' while driving

TORONTO, Feb. 1 /CNW/ - Recent reports that three Toronto Transit Commission Bus Operators have been terminated for using hand-held electronic devices on the job have prompted a flood of media calls to Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 for comment.

ATU Local 113 has a longstanding policy of not commenting on internal TTC disciplinary processes or legal proceedings related to individual members. Accordingly, the union will not be publicly discussing the status of these cases, either individually or collectively.

"We have said very clearly and very often in recent days that the use of mobile phones or other hand-held communication devices while driving is a safety hazard and is unacceptable to the union," says Bob Kinnear, President of Local 113.

"The union does not condone this behaviour in any way, shape or form, except in the case of clear emergencies, such as the reporting of a crime or public hazard witnessed by the Operator. In such extenuating circumstances, the vehicle must be stopped before the call is made."

Kinnear notes that the union has a legal obligation under the Ontario Labour Relations Act to represent members charged with violating TTC work rules or regulations, analogous to the right of any person accused of violating the law to legal representation.

"The fact that we represent our members charged with infractions cannot be taken to mean we condone the behaviour they are accused of. Defence lawyers are not assumed to condone the acts their clients are charged with and it is the same with union representation."

Kinnear added that these incidents are distressing to other TTC workers who have experienced a spike in verbal assaults and insults as well as "photo-stalking" encouraged by some media outlets.

"The overwhelming majority of our 10,000 members perform their jobs safely and conscientiously every day under often difficult conditions. It is extremely unfair to generalize the character of an identifiable group, in this case TTC workers, from the actions of a very small number but that is happening."

Kinnear also charged the media with selective indignation about public safety.

"The media are actively inviting people to take pictures of TTC workers who may be violating the law. But no media outlet has ever, to our knowledge, asked people to take pictures of TTC workers being assaulted, something that happens every day. It is certainly wrong to text while driving a bus but it is also wrong, and criminally so, to physically attack bus drivers. But maybe that doesn't sell as many newspapers."

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

For further information:

Bill Reno, 416-223-7366

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Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

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