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TTC staff could strike on Friday

Talks will ‘go down to the wire,’ official says

By Joseph Hall Toronto Star Transportation Reporter

Tuesday April 6, 1999

Toronto Transit Commission workers could be walking the picket line as early as Friday morning if contract talks stall.

“It’s going to go down to the wire, these kinds of negotiations always do,” a senior TTC official said yesterday.

Some 7,800 members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 could shut down all the city’s streetcars, subways and buses if a deal is not reached before midnight Thursday.

That’s when the drivers, subway operators, collectors and mechanics can legally walk off the job or be locked out by management.

A news blackout on negotiations, which began in February, has been ordered by the provincial conciliator.

But a TTC management official said yesterday that talks were proceeding relatively well.

“We’re talking, the talks are constructive, but I’m not going to make predictions about specifics,” the official said.

In their last public statements, the two sides were miles apart. TTC employees, who have received a 1 per cent raise in the past seven years, were looking for a 16 per cent increase over two years. The TTC, however, was offering 3 per cent over three years, with the first 1 per cent being a signing bonus.

As well, the commission’s concession demands, including Sunday premium-time rollbacks, would cost workers $47 million over the life of the contract, while they would gain only $24 million in new wages, union president Vince Casuti said.

The offer was rejected last March by 99 per cent of the membership.

The last time the union walked off the job was in 1991, when an eight-day strike netted the union 4.95 and 4.75 per cent increases over two years.

Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman has said that any wage increase for TTC workers would have to be covered by a fare hike.

Every 3 per cent annual wage increase equals about a dime hike in each fare, the TTC says. By those calculations, a 16 per cent wage jump could hike fares by more than 25 cents over two years.

The TTC carries about 1.3 million passengers a day.