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TTC workers vote on deal today

Expected to accept contract

Came ‘within inches’ of strike

KEVIN MCGRAN
TRANSPORTATION REPORTER

The TTC’s 8,400 workers, who are slated to vote on their contract today, came “within inches” of being on strike, union president Bob Kinnear said yesterday.

Kinnear declined to speculate on which way the vote would go — although it would be remarkable if workers voted against the deal that was recommended Sunday by the union’s 15-member bargaining committee.

“We are a democratic union,” Kinnear said yesterday. “I don’t want to speculate on what 8,000 people may or may not do.”

He said a four-hour meeting Tuesday with about 1,000 workers led to a “better understanding” of the deal. Vote results should be available tonight.

The deal almost fell apart late Sunday afternoon. Much was made of a shouting match between Kinnear and TTC chairman Howard Moscoe, and a call he received from Mayor David Miller that TTC officials said helped crystallize the deal.

But Kinnear said the unsung hero was Scott Blakey, the TTC’s director of human resources and a negotiator.

“He really solidified the deal,” said Kinnear. “We had a good discussion just moments prior to the dispute I got into with Howard Moscoe. It was a good talk. We spoke about a lot of things, about how far we’d come, and we were able to resolve some issues about working conditions and that’s what finally resolved it.”

As for the yelling match with Moscoe, Kinnear said he accused Moscoe of forcing workers into a strike for “a couple of hundred dollars,” a reference to a pension holiday the TTC relented on that added about $6 million to the package.

On the phone, Kinnear said Miller “was giving his reasoning why the strike wouldn’t be beneficial to the city or the membership. I can tell you unequivocally the phone call had no bearing on the decision that we finally came to.”

Kinnear said that while some of his advisers were pressing him to get more from the city, he didn’t think a strike was in his membership’s best interest.

“There’s no doubt there was a lot of pressure, especially realizing not only my members’ lives could be disrupted but also those of a million people who use the transit system every day.

“The problem with going on strike is you end up in arbitration and the things we were successful in negotiating would probably no longer be there. We would have lost all the underlying issues that we were successful in negotiating.”

Those things included stricter contracting-out language, sick-day policy changes and flexibility on clothing allowances.




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