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TTC Union Threatens Wildcat Strike (Updated)



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Crossposted to Spacing’s Wire

The photograph on the left is courtesy of the photographer 416 Style and is used in accordance to its Creative Commons license.

Toronto area commuters should be aware of potential problems getting into work tomorrow if TTC workers carry through on their threat of a wildcat strike against the Commission.

Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 hasn’t confirmed whether a strike will take place, but has indicated that the union is giving it serious consideration in response to concerns raised about the safety of front-line TTC personnel, especially in the area of fare disputes with passengers. Earlier in the week, the union told its employees not to enforce the collection of fares. Management responded by saying that drivers who did not collect fares would be subject to discipline.

Pulse 24 has details of this development on their website, and you should keep a close eye on Pulse 24 or CBC Toronto for the latest news on your commute. Transit activist Steve Munro has an interesting assessment of how we got to this point:

The problem is that the TTC Commissioners want staff to be everyone’s friend and to exercise “discretion” in enforcing the fare rules, but then turn around and wring their hands about lost farebox revenue. This sort of attitude tells staff that they won’t be supported in fights with the public because they made the wrong choice.

I’m disappointed in the stance that Local 113 has taken, but I’m not surprised.

To stave off a wildcat strike, the union is asking for management to commit to solid time frames for the installation of security cameras and other measures to protect the safety of bus and streetcar drivers.

If a strike occurs, it would be technically an illegal strike, and it is possible that the provincial government would be asked to intervene with back-to-work legislation. We will follow this story closely as things develop.

(Update: 23:21): According to this report from the Star, union president Bob Kinnear claims that he is ordering no job action for tomorrow, but TTC General Manager Rick Ducharme claims not to be so sure.

One wonders what part of “not ordering any type of job action from (his) 8500 members” is so difficult to understand, but the tone of the other comments makes it unclear where things stand, and if a wildcat strike or a coordinated sickout is in or not. The rhetoric on both sides remains at fevered levels. After raising the possibility of a job action, and then apparently backing down, it is irresponsible not to be clear on where the public is going to stand (or walk, or bike, or drive) tomorrow morning.

The riders’ best bet may be to assume that transit service will be running tomorrow, but to leave themselves extra time to get to work, whether they are driving or taking public transit. We will try to keep on top of this story, but you should also keep your eyes on CablePulse 24, 680 News or CBC Toronto for the latest news on this situation.