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Thousands of TTC workers could be on strike as of June 7

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The union representing thousands of TTC workers says it is not close to reaching a deal with the city's transit agency as the countdown has begun to a possible strike action early next month.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Labour issued a no-board report to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which means 11,500 operators, collectors, maintenance workers, stations staff, and other frontline TTC employees could walk off the job as of June 7.

"I can't say that we're close," ATU Local 113 president Marvin Alfred said in an interview with CP24 Tuesday afternoon when asked about the status of contract talks.

"We have a number of issues regarding job security and benefits and wages that have yet to be addressed properly. We're at the bargaining table, yes. But at the same time, we do not see sufficient movement in order to have any sort of certainty that a strike will be avoided," he added.

Alfred noted that there has been "constructive dialogue" with the TTC. However, unless the union gets "anything in writing" that provides assurances to members on the key issues, Alfred said he is "not confident" that a strike would be averted at this time.

"We need something tangible," Alfred said.

ATU Local 113 members have been without a contract since March 31. Last month, they voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike mandate.

This is the first time in years that the union has been able to negotiate a deal with the possibility of a strike after a court struck down the province's designation of the TTC as an essential service. The last transit strike at the TTC happened in 2008.

"We're frustrated, and our members have sent this loud message that they are ready to strike in order to get the deal that they feel is worthy," Alfred said, noting that 8,000 members have already signed up for picket duty.

"We will continue to bargain. We will bargain if and whenever needed to get that deal."

TTC CEO Rick Leary, in a statement Tuesday, said his agency would continue to be at the bargaining table until a new collective agreement is reached. The two parties have been negotiating since February.

"It's important to note that this does not mean there will automatically be a labour disruption, it only indicates the earliest date such a disruption could begin," Leary said, referring to the no-board report.

He noted that the TTC had renewed agreements with three unions since January and hoped to do the same with ATU Local 113.

In his statement, Leary warned that there will be service impacts if a strike happens.

"What exactly those impacts could be will depend on the extent and nature of the disruption and are not yet known," Leary said.

"The TTC values the important work that all our employees do every day to deliver safe and reliable service – the employees in ATU Local 113 are an integral part of our operations."

Coun. Jamaal Myers, the chair of the TTC board, said in a statement that he remained confident that both parties would reach a fair deal.

"I am encouraged that the TTC and ATU Local 113 remain at the bargaining table to continue negotiating to reach a deal and avoid any job action measures," Myers said.

Last week, Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow also expressed hope that the two sides would reach an agreement to avert a strike.

With files from Joshua Freeman

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