Is Local 113 Out Of Its Mind?

Note that I have closed comments on this thread because, at 92, it’s getting a tad long.  Please continue this discussion in the “Back on Track” thread that I have just created.

I came out of my hotdocs screening late this evening and, riding home on the subway, heard a totally garbled public announcement.  No black band on the One Stops, but we all know they’re a waste of time.

Emerging at Broadview, I ran into a CITY TV camera crew and learned of the strike which starts as I write this.  I was not a happy camper.

Until now, I have stayed out of this battle and have been generally supportive of the union in response to some rather intemperate comments by readers here.  However, the way this strike arrived shows just how badly Local 113’s communications, internally and externally, have fouled up the situation.

The whole business started with the Worth a Million campaign.  I was one of the people asked by Marilyn Churley to read through her report before it was published, and flagged some of the more glaring problems with the logic.  However, it’s clear that the slogan had been picked already, the website domain name purchased, and the thrust of the campaign already decided.  Fine tuning the message was not in the cards.

This campaign raised a lot of bad feelings not least because it portrayed the huge benefits transit gives to the city as coming totally from the staff without acknowledging the political support and funding that makes the existence of the TTC possible.

Then came the bargaining.  Little information leaked out from negotiations, but what did was not exactly useful in establishing a strong position for the union.  As the deadline neared, we heard about how the poor underpaid Toronto members needed to be the best in the GTA.  It didn’t take long for the press to find out that the actual difference between Toronto and Mississauga was five cents.  Moreover, once Toronto got even the two percent originally offered by the TTC, they would leapfrog back into top spot.

We heard about sick pay for workers injured by assaults, and the clear indication was that the TTC addressed that one before the ink was dry on the press release.  Then it turned out that Local 113 wanted full sick pay for any injured worker, but this took two weeks to come out.  When challenged on this, Bob Kinnear said, in effect, “well, that TTC spokeman is wet behind the ears and didn’t know what he was talking about”.  Oh?  It took two weeks for the union to decide that the TTC was putting out misinformation?

Finally, we come to today’s vote.  The story is that the maintenance workers felt they had lost protection about contracting out.  Hmmm.  If this was such a problem, and if some of the union executive couldn’t bring themselves to sign the agreement, why did it take until today for this news to surface.  The maintenance workers are less than half of the total workforce, but clearly others voted to reject in support of them.

Worrying about the safety of its members, Local 113 pulled them out at midnight rather than waiting 48 hours.

“We have assessed the situation and decided that we will not expose our members to the dangers of assaults from angry and irrational members of the public,” said Bob Kinnear, ATU Local 113 President.  [From the press release.]

The only irrational people here are in Local 113.  They have consistently sent garbled messages to the public, and possibly even to their own members.  If contracting out really was on the table, as opposed to the suspicions of radical members of the executive, then the union should have made this clear as a deal breaker.  As things stand, it is nothing more than rumour.

Whenever they do return to work, Local 113 members can expect the cordial relations they enjoyed with the public after averting a strike to evaporate.  Every operator who goes for a coffee, who throws his passengers out into the rain, who argues over a transfer will be subject to abuse.

Both sides are expected to meet the Provincial mediator on Saturday afternoon, but mediation or no, Queen’s Park should tell Local 113 quite bluntly that this irresponsible behaviour is unaccetable and force them back to work immediately.  Given the mechanics of such legislation, we could be without transit service until Wednesday if procedural foot-dragging prevents passage of an emergency bill in one day.

Local 113 has blown its relationship with the most pro-labour Commission and Council they could hope to have across the bargaining table.  From here on, who can trust their signature on a contract?

I am sure my regular correspondents will write to say “we told you so”, and I have to say I am deeply disappointed.  Once again, the cause of transit is set back by events that have nothing to do with improving the system.

92 thoughts on “Is Local 113 Out Of Its Mind?

  1. Typically when a contract fails to pass, you go back to the table, spend a few days trying to figure out how you can fix it. A strike should be the last resort, because your workers, the folks who pay the union dues, don’t get paid when there is a strike, especially if it’s a long, drawn out one.

    If the issue is warranty work, the solution is rather simple, send TTC mechanics to the supplier for re-training on the newer vehicles, then TTC mechanics can do the warranty work, and bill it back to the supplier. The cost is really the same whether your own mechanics do the work, or someone else does. When the warranty is up, your own mechanics will need to be trained to do the work anyway, so what’s the big deal.

    Steve: According to Adam Giambrone on CP24 earlier today, the ATU members do most of the warranty work now and the TTC bills it back.

    An injured worker is usually covered by WSIB, which pays some 85% of your pay while you are on benefits, this is tax free money, so it’s actually as much if not a little more then regular wages, plus WSIB covers all expenses. For sick workers, most employers will offer some personal days, there may be limits on the number, but they should pay 100%, for those days. If you’re sick more days, then extra days are not paid. Unions love this kind of system, because allowed sick days is usually an area you can get increases fairly easily.

    I think Bob Kinnear needs to find a new supplier, that sure is some weird ganga he been smokin’.

    Steve: Maybe the warranty ran out.

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  2. As a T.T.C. Operator, let me give you my take on this situation.

    I was shocked when I found out from Bob’s phone call that the members voted against the contract. 3/3/3 increases, upgrades to benefits, and most importantly, no concessions.

    However, this wasn’t good enough for the maintenance department. They want guaranteed lifetime jobs.

    The commission is buying new vehicles and like all new vehicles they have warranties. The maintenance people don’t like this as they think they will be laid off because the company manufacturing these vehicles will be doing the repairs that are covered under the warranty.

    I do not support the maintenance department at all. Everyone knows the maintenance department is a joke. They are always complaining about how hard and tough their working conditions are. Yet they might work 2-3 hours out of an 8 hour shift.

    Yet about 50% of operators in transportation voted no to this offer for it to be 65% No. I don’t believe this high figure is to support the maintenance department. There was wording in the contract about maintenence being about to transfer to transportation. Many operators believed this to mean they (maintenance employees) would also take their seniority with them.

    Bob Kinnear sent out messages letting membership know this was completely false (about carrying your seniority). Someone on the executive started this false rumour to get operators pissed enough to vote with the maintenance department for a No vote. I think Kinnear’s message didn’t reach enough members before they voted.

    I can’t see 50% of operators turning down this contract. This was the second contract Kinnear worked on that was all gains and not one concession (first being in 2005).

    I think someone in the Executive is out for Kinnear and trying to make him look bad. I honestly think Bob cares about transit very much and doesn’t take any pleasure calling a strike.

    I believe most operators don’t want to strike as we don’t want anymore abuse thrown our way than we already receive.

    I don’t believe in striking but yet fully support Bob Kinnear. Don’t look for Bob to get shown the door or kicked out. Not a chance that will happen. Someone will pay and and it won’t be Bob.

    It’s about damn time the province declares this an ESSENTIAL SERVICE!!!!!!!!!!!

    p.s. not impressed about the finger steve. that operator probably voted yes to the contract.

    Steve: Thanks for this background. I am not sure of your reference to “the finger”. I think the ATU has blown it big time regardless of who is responsible or how this was stage managed, and I also feel that the union did a terrible job of putting its case to the public throughout the past month or so of negotiations. Any of my comments have been no finger, but a wakeup call.

    This action hurts not just Local 113, but every other unionized public sector worker who will be tarred with the same slurs about greed, soft working conditions and utter disregard for the public good. Everyone should be happy Mike Harris isn’t in power, or we would see widespread privatization of services and the ATU would be left to rot on the picket lines.

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  3. I’m listening to Howard Hampton waffling about the need for a negotiated TTC settlement and refusing to confirm the NDP will support the back to work legislation to a herd of decidedly less than sympathetic reporters. If the NDP drags its feet in the legislature tomorrow, they’ll lose a lot of votes, mine included, in the GTA. (Hate to say it, but John Tory’s remarks sounded a lot more reasonable.)

    I was a union official for the largest part of my working life, and I believe the right to strike is an essential (if drastic) negotiating instrument. However, when it is used irresponsibly, as it was last night, it damages the reputations of all unions.

    Mr. Kinnear’s statement that the sudden strike was necessary to protect the members of his union from the dangers of assaults from irrational and angry members of the public makes little sense when you consider the plight of the TTC employees who had to tell late night passengers (some of whom had probably been out for Friday night drinks at a bar) “Sorry, folks, you’ll have to get out here. We’re on strike.” Doesn’t sound to me like their union president had really considered his union members’ safety.

    Steve: I live in an NDP riding Provincially and Federally, and have support the party with votes and financial contributions over the years.

    Peter Tabuns, my MPP, will get a very icy greeting if the NDP refuses to pass legislation on Sunday so that something resembling transit service can be up and running on Monday.

    Bargaining principles are one thing, but local 113 voided any claim to fair treatment at midnight last night.

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  4. I have nothing to say except that I am sorely dissapointed with the TTC’s decision. My friends and I were stranded last night at Yonge and Eglinton. One hour’s notice is bullshit – how am I supposed to check my email/TV news outlet from the mall?

    In any case, they’ve opened themselves up to customer abuse – and I have no further sympathy for them.

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  5. It is rather encouraging to see TTC Operators even support making their jobs an essential service.

    I would have to disagree with the idea that Kinnear cares about transit though. If that were true, operations would have at the very least continued until the daily shutdown period.

    Kinnear is a public relations liability and failure at this point, his situation is really not salvageable as far as the public is concerned (this is the last straw). If operators care about their own image, and the public’s attitude towards them, the union members need to accept the reality that they must get rid of Kinnear. Kinnear does not consider the public at all, this is evident by his actions. The public will simply not be on the union’s side again until Kinnear is thrown to the dogs. Kinnear’s successor will have a lot of damage to repair in regaining the public’s respect.

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  6. Steve,

    I just saw your interview on cp24 as I was reading this post.

    How did you like the movie? I think I saw you at the Bloor cinema, I was working there. I was working the 10pm-2am shift …

    Steve: I was there for “Dear Zachary” which is a very powerful movie. My review will appear in due course along with the rest of the backlog (many written in rough, but not polished yet).

    I am one of the volunteers (yes we give our time for the festival) working there and one of our bosses tells us at 11:23pm that there is a strike at midnight…..37 minutes before (he went to Bathurst station which is a minute walk from Bloor Cinema).

    I live in eastern end Scarborough, lucky for me and two other volunteers got a ride up to Don Mills & Lawrence from the 4th. volunteer.

    The three of us shared a cab, I was the one that lives the furthest away from Don Mills/Lawrence. That $25 that was my fare, will Bob whatever his last name is, is he going to pay for it? what about the other two volunteers who had to cab it with me, their fare?

    I was going to see 2 movies today and work at the ROM for the Hot Docs festival tonight but now I can’t see it, I was supposed to work 7:00am-12:00 noon but had to cancel my shift at my paying job.

    Will ATU Local 113 pay me the pay I am missing as it is impossible to travel from east end scarborough to downtown Toronto.

    I have work and hot docs on sunday as well, 3 movies I might not be able to see, my shift there is also at risk. I was supposed to go with my parents for lunch as well.

    See how much one person is missing?

    What if the legislation to force them back to work gets delayed by any of the parties…I will not be able to go to work. I can’t afford $80 ($40 each way) a day to go to work.

    Biking it to downtown Toronto from east end scarborough? hahaha, it’s beyond impossible, rollerblading haha, walking – ok no.

    I am stuck here.

    Why could they not of gone with WORK TO RULE? I remember when I was in high school, there was work to rule instead of a strike.

    Yes they get assaulted, so do cab drivers, police officers, convenience store workers, homeless people, etc…

    So many of the operators (bus/streetcars) are grouchy and pissed. Yes we all have bad days but to bring it every day … So many of them bring miserable attitudes.

    Yes they get assaulted, so do millions of people around the world. They never once take part of the blame on them, so a passenger 10 stops before mine assaulted you … unless you are bleeding heavily, stabbed, or shot … DO NOT TAKE IT OUT ON ME.

    All they want is more money in their greedy hands, have you ever been to London or Folkestone UK? The drivers have a plastic shield.

    For the past year I have been asking drivers at random and the majority said that they wouldn’t like a shield/barrier of some sort, or separation.

    I lost ALL respect for them, they paralized the city. The economy will suffer. The entertainment district (not just clubs) will suffer. The environment will suffer (more cars = more pollution).

    Work to rule wouldn’t be the best but it is better than a strike.

    Thank you Bob, Thank you drivers, I lost 100% of the respect I had for you guys.

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  7. Count me in on the chorus of “I used to defend you but no longer.” There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for the behavior of the union and its “leadership”, abandoning patrons at intersections at midnight. Kinnear has shown himself for one of two things: either an incompetent stooge, or the bully we have long suspected him to be. (As a side note, how is it that Kinnear, Craig Brommel and Ernie Eves feature the same hair style – that was my first indication of Kinnear’s tendencies – seriously, who dresses these weasels??) “We have a legal responsibility to protect the safety of our members” my eye. Kinnear has placed them in the line of fire, time and again, not the mayor.

    Years of inadequate funding and service cutbacks may have cultivated an environment of hostility towards the people on the front line, but the union time and again points the fingers directly at its customers – great to know that the members feel that way about their customers. What do they expect? The fact that the union voted down the contract likely has very little to do with voter apathy, as an operator suggested.

    This “rumour”, I am sure will emerge, must have originated from the higher ups in the union, and if it’s not from Kinnear himself, then it’s someone under him, which makes him responsible, bottom line. He’s know Forrest Gump, he knows damn well what is going on. Nothing short of tarring and feathering – not to mention drawing and quartering – is going to be good enough. Run him out of town on his own rails.

    Bob, you were already making it very hard to support the members – congratulations on achieving full impossibility.

    And yes, I know that the haircut crack was a cheap shot, but I have a $35 cab ride home from work ahead of me, if I can even find a cab. Thanks, Steve, for calling a spade a spade. Here’s hoping that the province steps up.

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  8. As a bus operator, I must echo Subway operator’s comments. I am extremely disappointed about the lack of notice. The Tentative Agreement had definate unclear language in many places and this led to much confusion. I also have heard that there is an extreme power struggle taking place in the upper levels of the Union Executive. I went to bed early last night (as I had to be up at 3:00 am today to go to work) and I was woke up by a phone message fron the Union advising me of the strike.

    I am not looking forward to going back to work (after the government legislates us back). I am in fear that I will be assaulted on the job now. I have never been much of a “fan” of the maintenance employees through numerous things that I have observed. I am even less of a “fan” of them now. One of the rumours that I heard was that if the deal was ratified, the maintence employees were going to set up picket lines in protest and prevent the transportation employees from working.

    The time of the strike, lack of notice, and stranding of riders is irresponsible in my opinion. I know that I will be demanding answers from my Union Representatives. This could have (and should have) been handled much differently. I am just very happy that I wasn’t at work at the time this all occurred. I have seen your interview on CP24 several times now and I am in agreement with your comments.

    Steve: If the maintenance folks hold the city hostage by picketing, it will be illegal and they should be charged and fined.

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  9. Just as corporations can get too powerful (and their ego’s too big), so can union’s. They’re merely big groups of people working toward a single selfish goal.

    When they think that they can shut down an entire city of people , as well as people that commute in whenever they please, they’ll get crushed like a bug.

    Public sector unions, especially municipal ones, don’t have it as well as they’d like to think

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  10. I cannot believe all the whining and shit talking on here. Bob Kinnear did a good job in getting a good contract to ratify. I went down to vote in favour of it along with 8 other friends. We were all shocked that it did not pass. While we were voting, which was at the Harvey Shop, the maintenance people began to taunt us, and telling us that we ought to vote “no” since we’re voting on their territory.

    Of course, we voted the way we wanted. But I must honestly say that I am not comfortable that my vote was counted. There were even disputes as to how the ballots were to be marked.

    Instead of bitching about getting here and there, you all should be bitching about the voting process and whether or not the vote was RIGGED. I, along with many other operators I spoke with last night and this morning, all believe the vote was rigged.

    The operators DO NOT necessarily vote in solidarity with maintenance. Operators would never give up a good deal for another department. Please help me make noise about this RIGGED vote.

    Thank you for your time.

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  11. Mr. Kinnear should be condemned for a thousand generations for what he did. Why create chaos? In the long run, the union will loose. Look at everyone in Toronto demanding that the TTC be made an essential service. Will they be ever able to strike again in the future? Mr. Kinnear may have won this battle, but he has lost the war.

    I for one look forward to the day when all TTC rail vehicles are running on ATO. This way, the drivers can strike, but the trains can still run. Maintenance can be contracted out. Bombardier does a fine job for airlines and transit agencies across the world.

    I hold no grudges against the TTC operators. When they go back to work whenever, I will still treat them with respect. The only thing I demand out of this is for Mr. Kinnear to publicly apologize to everyone in Toronto. He should also donate some of his time to sweep the station platforms and pull the weeds in front of the stations.

    It is dissapointing to see that the city has no contingency plans. Did anyone try driving on major roads in Toronto? Finch Ave E is worst than rush hour. Mr. Miller should call in the military. When the air traffic controllers striked in the USA during 1968, former governor Ronald Reagan called the military so that air traffic would not be halted. I am confident that army officers can easily drive an ICTS Mk1 or CLRV vehicle. Service has to be restored at all cost. If Mr. Kinnear does not want to do it, let the military do it.

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  12. Should the city even be negotiating with Mr. Kinnear at this point?

    I am no labour expert, but I am a card carrying member of another union, and perhaps what I am suggesting is not responsible or legal, but I’d be in favour of seeking a long-term solution to the TTC’s labour problems at this point, not just a next contract.

    The wildcat strike a couple years ago was unconscionable, but this one, because of the timing — midnight on a Friday with little notice, was actually dangerous.

    Did workers not consider that women who had planned on using services such as “request stop” to get home safely last night would be forced to walk alone, take rides from strangers, or wait alone for family to pick them up?

    There is a major public safety issue in striking before normal TTC shutdown hours. I’m horrified that the ATU would put our most vulnerable members of the public at such risk. Grim as it may be, I’d like to see news media report to us on any safety incidents that may have occurred last night as a result of someone being stranded. If that did happen, the public and the ATU should at least know. Young people, women and others were put in a very, very vulnerable position last night.

    And let’s not lose sight that a contract including 3% per year for 3 years was turned down. I can’t help but wonder if I will get that kind of raise for the next three years?

    The promise of 48 hours notice of any strike was breached, and as far as I’m concerned, at this point the TTC shouldn’t even be negotiating with Mr. Kinnear.

    Could the TTC lock the workers out until they accept some further concessions on job security, and how their contract is negotiated? Because right now, I’d be willing to be inconvenienced (grossly inconvenienced) for a whole week or even a month if it means we can permanently change irresponsible labour situations at the TTC every few years. The TTC can’t offer the city the kind of service it wants and needs with these negotiating partners, and possibly not with these workers.

    Mr. Kinnear put women and young people at risk. He shouldn’t be at the table anymore.

    Lock them out till they accept a 3 year wage freeze.

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  13. The transit workers have the right to strike and they don’t have to ask us for permission to exercise it. They also have the right we’re all fondest of, the right to be idiots, and they are exercising it vigorously. They elected a dud in Bob Kinnear, but it’s not as if he invaded Iraq.

    In 1974 I and the rest of Toronto survived 23 days without the TTC. How times have changed, eh? Now public service workers dare to exercise their rights and they’re being ordered around like convicts.

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  14. I hate to be a broken record and keep posting items on your blog, but there has been some silver lining in this strike. GO transit has been doing a wonderful job as sources told me that the staff at the GO stations and the on board train crews are making sure people catch their trains, give proper directions asking and answering customers’ questions, and helping out with construction notices. From what I have been told they have two people operating doors, one rotating to diffrent parts of the train to eye the ticket window areas at stations in case if there was someone who was late, and holding the train for them! One operating the little portable “bridge” at wheelchair points at accseable stations.

    My friend Shawn, played dumb and talked to a GO operator and the operator said that in a normal situation the trains would never be nearly as packed, and the speed would be quicker. “The circumstances require us to do what we can right now for our riders.” People thought it would cost seven dollars to ride GO transit, or it was used only by the 905. That attitude has changed with those riders.

    The new attitude with GO despite it being slower then normal and being more packed I have been told is very positive. Passengers are very happy and quite surprised. In your earlier posts, Steve you mentioned GO playing an active role in the outer 416 areas and relieving pressure on the subway and local bus routes. Even though the strike stinks, maybe a will among the people could bring us better GO services as a positive in all this!

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  15. I’m trying to understand all of this and am wondering a few things.

    If Kinnear was in favour of the agreement last Sunday does he feel now, by seeing it voted down, that the only option was a sudden strike? If he felt that there had to be a strike simply because the vote was lost was it not better to happen on a Friday night, with anticipation that back-to-work legislation could be passed by Sunday night to avoid a strike on the Monday morning, clearly a much, much worse option than a Saturday and Sunday strike?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that if he had given 48 hours notice, people would have gotten home hasslefree on Friday night and gotten through the weekend but then the strike would likely just arrive in time for the start of the work week. I almost bet he is banking on back-to-work legislation to do the dirty work for them. I doubt anyone in the legislature is going to hold it up, except maybe Peter Kormos.

    Kinnear may have been on the right track here. He had agreed to what he thought was a fair deal thinking it would be supported and when it was turned down he figured there needed to be a strike to appease the union members. I don’t think when you consider the last minute deal reached on Sunday that anyone would have felt optimistic about another weekend of negotiations ending in a new deal for the union just in time for a smooth Monday morning. In other words, wasn’t a strike inevitable after the defeat of this vote? What the leadership did horribly wrong was the sudden announcement (less than an hour) and doing it before the end of the regular service day.

    Maybe it’s a far out conspiracy theory but even having the vote on a Friday and an impromptu post-vote strike may just have been setting things up for weekend back-to-work legislation and a relatively happy ending to a sticky situation that the union got themselves into by unknowingly (or knowingly) accepting a deal that all of their members would not support. The union leadership (behind Kinnear) is likely rather faceless and they, like the rest will deal with scowls and annoyed customers for weeks (and likely months) to come.

    The most annoying thing is that they apparently aren’t even picketing, according to 680 News which seems to think Roncesvalles is the only TTC yard in the city, or at least it sounds that way. I guess everyone is just sitting at home? The other thing that’s really dumb is the solidarity movement that keeps Mississauga Transit out of the loop at Long Branch. Really, is this necessary? Is it bad for the ATU 113 members or weakening their position by letting a bus from a neighbouring municipality to turn around?

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  16. As a local 113 member I want to say sorry to all of Toronto. The 113 union is out of there mind for what they did last night and I do not support them for closing service with 1.5 hours notice. Why could the union not say ok deal was rejected and these are the reasons (contracting out language for maint). but in good faith we will go back to table to sort this issue out.

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  17. I’ve been following all this with interest. Took photos last night and repeated the Operator’s note with my own comments to echo those words some more.

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  18. I don’t see anywhere any fingers pointed at City Council or it’s dominator, David Miller. He is always quick to be credited with and take credit for any tiny little good thing (a Chinese mining company putting 3 jobs in Toronto) but never gets blamed when things go bad. (I wonder if the Chinese trip was timed to avoid the first deadline)

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  19. I would suspect that Kinnear wanted the strike so TTC can be declared an essential service. It makes negotiations much easier in the future and essential services always get more money and perks than it does is an open negotiation.

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  20. I also wonder if the union members knew that they would be going on strike by midnight with their vote. I suspect they too thought the public would get 48 hours. I haven’t heard if they knew that the vote would have an immediate impact (as in within the hour).

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  21. As I posted on Spacing, late this afternoon, I still found an older lady waiting for a bus not knowing there was a strike on. I also walked by the ATU Local 113 headquarters and Wilson Complex. The ATU HQ was empty, no cars in their parking lot, even as one might expect staffers to be there, at least to manage the strike and do damage control. The Wilson Complex was remarkable for inactivity there – not a single picketer, and the entrance was wide open. I usually think of pickets, fires in barrels, strongly-written signs and barricades when I think of strikes, so it was almost surreal. Why aren’t they picketing?

    And no signs or anything at Wilson Station, just locked doors. The headlines in the Toronto Sun boxes were the only notice anywhere around of the strike.

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  22. If the TTC isn’t made an essential service, then at the very least 48 hours’ notice of a strike should be REQUIRED BY LAW as it is in many other countries. That way no one would get stranded as happened last night due to Kinnear’s stupid antics. Let’s just hope that the province passes back-to-work legislation tomorrow and the union gets severely punished for this by forcing them to accept a less generous collective agreement.

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  23. It seems that somebody sure as Hell did lose their mind! When it became apparent to me that there was this rift in the Union I saw right then and there that there was going to be nothing but trouble ahead. By not giving the promised 48 hours notice Monsieur Kinnear may be setting up tyransit workers for a hell of a lot public harrassment than they might otherwise have gotten. Had the maintainance and repair people had a separate union from the operating staff there probably would be service at this moment. Suddenly, I’m having flashbacks to having my family’s summer train trip ruined by the big railway strike way back in 1973.

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  24. Just got back from a day out. To recap:

    Left home in midtown at 11:30 to walk down to BMO Field for Toronto FC game. On the way, stopped at a convenience store to grab some water and ran into a little old lady with a cane telling the clerk she was at a bus stop for 20 minutes before someone leaned out their car and told her no bus would come. She capped off by railing against the “bolshie” union leader and how much tax she pays. Also had to break the news to an older gentleman at Bathust station who said it would cost him $300 for a missed doctor’s appointment.

    After 2 1/2 hour walk, get to the game. Toronto FC wins, huzzah!

    20,000 fans spill out to swarm the streets with cars and sidewalks with feet. At the same time, Raptors fans are coming out of the ACC. Everyone seems to be in a good mood, although if it had rained I think things would have been vastly different. Get as far as Yonge-Dundas Square, then throw in the towel and hail a cab. Best $20 I’ve spent in ages. Cabbie was looking forward to a busy night, though with the price of gas I don’t know how much he’ll actually earn.

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  25. I was on the side of the union until last night! I witnessed assaults on the drivers. However, it browns me off to watch scumbags get on the Queen car at 6 am on a Sunday, because the drivers won’t challenge them.

    Why the hell am I paying for a metropass, when scum can enter for free?

    I think they should hire more TTC police for the surface routes! That’s where the management fails.

    However the maintenance workers are hiding behind the 113 local! CUPE obviously are showing they have to ride on the coattails of local 113!

    To strike last night without warning, showed a total lack of class by the ATU!, and a total lack of intestinal fortitude by CUPE!

    Thank goodness I took the weekend off! All I could think of was looking for my metropass at 5 am one morning, and having the driver roll his eyes up at me and barking… “Did you find it? Are you going to get on?”

    Hmph! and this guy is one of the ones we are supposed to pity?

    Steve: A correction for you. There is a small CUPE local with some of the machinists in it, but most of the the TTC maintenance workers are in Local 113. That’s how the contract was rejected.

    Please don’t blame this mess on CUPE.

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  26. Has the union ever considered a semi-walk off? instead of a full blown strike?

    For instance, have the bus/streetcar drivers strike one day while leaving the subway operating and then the following day have buses/streetcars operating and the subway drivers on strike.

    This would surely not infuriate the public as much and would probably be more effective than a full blown strike.

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  27. I think the saddest thing is that for public sector unions to work well (and I believe unions, public and private, are an important part of civil society), the general public needs to have trust in public institutions. By doing the very opposite the union not only hurts its cause, but undermines the union movement.

    Unfortunately you have to reap what you sow.

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  28. FYI: The “We Move Toronto” and “Worth a Million” websites appear to have been taken down sometime this evening. Regular maintenance? Possibly? Or a lot of angry feedback?

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  29. Steve, I have to respectfully disagree with you that Kinnear is a dead man. Eventhough he negotiated a contract which 65 percent of the Union rejected, who says he didn’t tactically have it rejected. As you have stated that he wanted to have a strike all along. It has been suggested by the Wildcat Strike as well. I wouldn’t be surprised that if we find out that he openly orchestrated the voting of the Union contract.

    On your point regarding the public sector. I might be a liberal, but I am read to believe more of the neo-liberal/third-way argument that we cannot continue to provide everything for the country through the state. In this post Iranian revolution era, the inflation levels simply are high to provide all government services to society.

    Raising taxes constantly is not an option, as they harm growth in the economy. So reality is we need to unburden the state by decreasing government services.

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  30. Well I just don’t understand the hypocrisy Steve. When Miller came back from CHINA and announced the “settlement” all supporters were happy and the union demands were OK! Now that the union realizes that they were “stiffed” and the management worded them out of many of the demands that they thought were met you abandon them cold turkey.

    You know that they have the democratic right to strike since April 1, and the agreement for the forty eight hour notice was just a gesture to the mayor, Kinnear was just trying to make sure his members wouldn’t be attacked by another 48 hour notice as they were last week.

    Steve, when it comes to political points you would make a greeat NDP candidate like your fellow flip-flops in the party. Don’t forget its the public that pays for this but they also have a right to know the truth. You were very disengenuous on cp24. You really let the members down! So now where are the apologies to the taxpayer and all those who lost real money because of this mis-understanding???

    Steve: First off, my comments on CP24 were intended to say quite clearly that the ATU has gone way over the line in calling this strike. I have always supported the union’s right to bargain fairly, but this is a clear case of bait and switch — at no time in the past month did anyone in 113 even mention the issues of job security, contracting out or warranty work. Bringing this up after an agreement has been signed is total crap, and speaks to 113’s inability to present a consistent, defensible message to the public.

    If the union now “realizes” they were stiffed by management, where was their so-called leadership? Why did they agree to the contract? Why didn’t they raise a stink a week ago saying why the contract was unacceptable?

    The sooner the union and its members wake up to the fact that without public support, without getting their message out clearly so that people will feel the union has a good position, they are toast.

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  31. I think this is terrible. Sorry, but the union is way out of line – even their bargaining unit said this was a good deal. Then, bang, they reject it and go on strike very shortly thereafter. Also, seeing that they refused to give their promised 48 hour notice, what does this tell me about the union? How can we trust what they tell us when they clearly went back on their promise.

    Needless to say, it is also not fair on the people who use the TTC as their means of transportation. Innocent people are being held hostage by this – it’s time to make the TTC an essential service!!!!

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  32. I for one have to say it pains me to see that so many operators voted yes because I for one really really feel betrayed and stabbed in the back right now by all members of the union. I’ve always been the type of person that if someone dared to raise sh*t with an operator while I was riding on the bus, I’d jump to my feet and be the first to defend the driver. Honestly, I’m not so sure if I’d have the same reaction anymore, I really and truly feel like the entire TTC union has stuck a knife in my back.

    Every time I get off the bus (assuming its not so busy that I’d hold up everyone) I make my way to the front and tell the driver to have a nice day. I defend them, I support them when talking with others, I look up to them; and what is the response? The response is that because I’m part of the dirty public, that I’m a bad person. That because some members of the public might choose to disrespect a driver, that ALL members are therefore the same. I question why I bother to be so supportive if this is how I get looked at.

    To be bluntly honest, I’ve seen just about as many rude and grumpy drivers as I have seen rude and grumpy passengers – and I see perhaps 1 driver for every 100 passengers!

    Frankly, the more I hear about this the sicker I get. There are comments like the one from Ode, about some maintence workers talking about Hillcrest as being their “Territory”. This is part of the same attidude that caused the problem to begin with. This is not maintence workers territory. It’s not union territory. Its not even management territory or city council territory. This is MY Territory. Me and everyone else out there in the public. WE own the TTC. WE choose to ride or not to ride. WE pay though our taxes. The Union does not have the power, The politicans do not have the power, WE do.

    Perhaps saddest of all is that I will likely purchase a car at the first oppertunity. Why is that sad? Because I’m not alone in thinking that way, and frankly, I’m the last person who should be thinking this way. I’ve been very pro-transit and even ran in the last municipal election on a platform that I would not purchase a car during my term in council because I dont need one – I can rely on the TTC. Apparently I, nor anyone else in this city, can rely on the TTC.

    ATU 113, we move Toronto … when we feel like it.

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  33. I have so many negative things to say that I doubt that any of this will be posted on your blog.

    1) While attempting to pick up my fiance who was stranded downtown while partying with a few friends, I was involved in an accident (some doofus ran a red light). This not only meant that I was unable to retrieve my fiance but I too was stuck downtown without a place to go. And did you know that Taxi drivers were charging as much as a $10 premium on cab fares that night when they heard the news? It must have been like Christmas morning for them. So now, with my car in the shop, I have to deal with getting a rental to get to work on Monday, plus all the added stress of haggling with my insurance provider over the damages to my car. ATU 113 is completely at fault for this mess, will they compensate me for my accident and the subsequent expensive cab fares just to retrieve my fiance?

    2) In an earlier post I stated that it appeared that the ATU 113 got pretty much what it wanted during contract negotiations. Imagine my surprise and shock when I found out that the contract was voted down AND there was a strike? What more do these morons want? We pretty much gave them the furniture in the house, do they want the clothes off our back too?

    3) This only reinforces my belief that Unions in this day and age have outlived their usefulness. With more and more employers respecting their employees, it makes me wonder why the unions are still here. A study by the Fraser Institute mentioned that the major stumbling blocks to investing in Canada are the fact that the Unions have too much power here, compared to the States. We really should start to look at slowly deconstructing the unions or at least getting rid of their claws. Now.

    4) My earlier remarks about conceding that the TTC members have a right to union representation, and for the Union to legally represent its workers were the strongest concessions I have ever given, and look where it has gotten us. I hereby withdraw those comments and will only say that the Union is indeed a major problem within the TTC (if not the causes of problems within the TTC). ATU 113 needs to be dealt with in the harshest way possible.

    5) I wonder where Rocco and his union goons are about this subject. I really want to hear them justify these actions as “right”.

    6) Here’s an (offhand) suggestion as for how the members of ATU 113 could “improve” relations with the travelling public: ASK FOR LESS MONEY!!!! With the public pretty pissed at how “overpaid” these morons are, when the TTC staff do finally get back on the job, expect even more violence and physical assaults against their members. Call it the “I told you so” or whatever it is, but the TTC workers should see this coming and get bulletproof shields if necessary. Because the first day back is not going to be pleasant for the workers. Especially since they will be the “highest paid” in the GTA when all this is said and done, I’m pretty sure some pissed off rider affected by the sudden shutdown will have some rude words (or fists) for them. Kinnear wanted to “protect his membership” from the abuses of the travelling public? Now they have done the exact opposite. They had better get some bandages ready, the membership is going to need it.

    Sorry for the rant but I have had a very bad last couple of days. Nothing more like a union-induced accident to get your blood boiling.

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  34. I used to work at TTC in electrical maintenance (CUPE local 2) many years ago. Great job. Great people. No stress for most. Great pay, work clothes and tools supplied and CRADLE to GRAVE benefits! Overtime available. Concern for safety. And job security is virtually 100%. 3 hours of work per day stretched to fill the entire shift. Even some time to play cards during a long lunch and the odd “government job” to pass time. When I worked the night shift, I’d either work hard to keep my mind off sleeping, or I’d sleep to keep my mind off working.

    How about going to a New Year’s Eve party and then showing up at my TTC shift (I’d volunteer for New Years Day) at 04h00 in the morning… the shift would start at 06h30… I’d earn DOUBLE TIME and a HALF for physically being there… and keep sleeping to recover from the party. With luck, nothing would break and I wouldn’t be distrurbed. I was much younger then.

    Most of the time, I’d usually work hard and was told that I shouldn’t. I had drive and wanted to make an impression. It made the brothers and sisters uncomfortable. They would say I was taking away jobs.

    Equality is number one in the union! A trade with a 3 year technologist diploma is just like anyone else with grade 12 education. There is no differentiation, no merit consideration but for the date you joined the company.

    Local 113 is one of the most powerful unions anywhere. There is no reality check to their demands. They can strike and cause the city pain for the silliest things. The desire to strike over pennies is summed up by brothers and sisters like COMPOUND INTEREST. Even 20 cents gained in negotiations today compounds into much more over future percentage increases. And the members do stick together very well because they know they can create a scene and get most of their demands met. Arbitrators always leave gains on the table for the union.

    The union members laugh at how well this works for them. They are generally very satisfied employees. Grumbling and complaining is for the cameras!

    Do people of this city understand what is in the expired contract? What TTC employees already get for pay and benefits? Access to overtime for additional income? I haven’t seen anyone in the media explain to the public the working conditions for maintenance workers, especially the skilled trades like carpenters, machinists, electricians, mechanics, etc. They have it very good compared to most not only elsewhere, but also within the TTC. Most maintenance workers don’t have to live by a clock and schedule like operators and are very happy about that fact.

    Other unions like the CAW at the motor car manufacturers have to deal with the competitive issues of their employer. If people don’t buy the car and the price isn’t competitive, jobs and thus union members are lost. Nothing drives home the point to a union than lost membership dues!

    Other unions are having some adjustment issues dealing with the market realities their employer is having… for instance CEP union at Bell Canada where clawbacks are on the table. It is certain jobs will be lost in the near future looking at where the market is going.

    Since TTC is MONOPOLY run by the city where fare increases and more taxes can make up for any financial shortfalls, the union has no reality check possible. The fact that we are on the precipice of a recession will not be felt by the TTC employee. With back-to-work legislation putting an arbitrator in charge of the outcome… the union will benefit some more as “middle ground” will be dealt. Do mediators ever say: “NO, you have it very good already”?

    I don’t blame employees… they are like the preverbial “kid in a candy store”. They share 50% of the blame for gorging themselves and the shopkeeper (TTC) gets the other half of the blame for minding the store improperly and letting the kids eat.

    It is easy to conclude that the union is engaging in GLUTTONY. TTC management could do a much better job exposing this to the taxpayers! Adam Giambrone is WRONG when he refuses to comment on negotiations or can ensure others are planted to get the political message across. The city taxpayers are on the hook and should know what it will cost them! TTC management and the City must find a better “stick” to use to reign in the powerful union.

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  35. What pisses me off right now (I have to say that, I’m polite on the internet and don’t want any really offensive words to show up) is that through this all, it’s the people that get inconvenienced. I could see it being marginally acceptable had MY union (yes, I’m an operator) called the strike at the end of service, but they said that to “protect the safety of the operators” that service would be suspended as of midnight. Hello Bob? What about when we go back to work? People will be more pissed than they would have been had we given them notice.

    What’s worse is that us operators are going to get blamed 100% out of this. Bob Kinnear is going to get off easily and likely will only face an angry mob of media … children compared to the people I see nightly out in the west end (whom I hope I don’t see once we’re forced back to work).

    Are we really to blame? Partially, because it was our vote that counted. However, when you really think of it, who is the ring leader that we all decide to follow? Bob. And the even bigger issue is that the media is manipulating everyone into thinking that the reason we went on strike is because of the pay. No, that’s not it. I’m still blurry on the exact details (which is pathetic for someone INSIDE the union) but what’s going to get us operators hurt is the fact that now, thanks to the media, we look like greedy assholes who just want more money.

    If it were me, I’d take the same pay that I’m getting pre-contract and stick with it. I like my job because I like helping people get to where they’re going safely. And if that turns sour and I start to question taking this job in the first place, then Bob is going to be the first one to know about it, and I’ll blame my entire resignation square on his arrogant shoulders! I enjoy my job, for the time being, and hope that I still enjoy it after this whole fiasco.

    Sad, considering I was starting to like it a whole lot better with how much friendlier the great citizens of this city were as of last Monday.

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  36. I wonder if the TTC was properly funded by all three levels of government, would we even be seeing this fiasco? As much as I detest the union for causing so many problems, surely they can’t be at the forefront for blame for this.

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  37. Perhaps the root of the whole problem is the years of abuse the management has heaped upon the employees. They frequently refuse to honour any contract agreements that does not suit their purposes. Management has placed itself above the law yet they want to use the rule of law to oppress their workers when these same workers choose to make a stand for even their most basic human rights, dignities and needs. This oppression is not just of union employees but fully includes their own management staff.

    The TTC is a cesspool of fear, hatred and broken promises. Check out how they have abused outside contractors throughtout the years. I pity the company foolish enough to enter into any type of contracting out of services agreement with the TTC. Just because you have your contract on paper and signed by both parties be advised that the TTC is always working overtime to find how they can exploit any weakness to slip out of their side of the agreement. Contractors beware! Look up all the civil suits that have been launched against the TTC in the past years.

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  38. If there is any silver lining in all the annoyance here it is that the operators who have posted agree that striking without warning was irresponsible and will demand answers from the Executive, whether it’s Bob Kinnear and/or others.

    Drivers, if you’re reading these comments, take them to ATU 113 and say “look, here is a group of people who used to be strongly on our side. Now they’re not. Something has to change.”

    Any riders who take out their frustration on you guys are probably irate and ill-informed. I suggest that the blame for increased risk of assault when you go back to work lies mostly with the Union Executive.

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  39. To respond to some of the other comments

    Some people say that the TTC is to blame because they cheat every penny from wherever they can find it. Others say that the government is to blame for underfunding the TTC… uh, how about both! Notice that this toxic atmosphere started about the same time that Harris cut funding? The Daltster, despite saying how bad Harris was, has not done a thing to fix the problem, and now he comes out looking like the hero.

    Steve: He has gone some way to fixing the problem, but nowhere near far enough.

    Next, I hear TTC workers saying “it’s not about the money, it’s not about the money”. BS, if it was not about the money then this “best paid in the GTA” would not have been part of the deal. If it was not about the money then a 0% raise would be good enough. One of the reasons so many people are so angry is that most TTC workers make enough money to have cars – if the TTC is on strike they can still get around. Meanwhile most of the people on their bus, do not make enough money to own and operate a car.

    Steve: That’s a nice line, but in fact, a large proportion of TTC ridership is “choice” riders who do have the option, but don’t exercise it. If we drive them away from the system with crappy service (either due to underfunding or to union behaviour), then we lose ridership that could justify better service and political support for better funding.

    Then I hear about TTC operators worried about what they’ll face on Monday. Frankly, I can tell you what they’ll face – some pretty darn cross people; then I flip on the news and hear about how united the union members are in solidarity with each other. Frankly, if you operators don’t want to get so much grief, it is YOU who has to stand up to the maintenance workers and tell them to start acting like adults.

    Best of all, people use words like “inconvenienced” suggesting that the TTC is a “convenience” or a “want”. BS, the TTC is a NEED for many people. What about the single mother who has to choose between paying for a cabride to work, or not going to work, and either way, having to tell her kids that there is no supper tonight becuase she can’t afford it. Did anyone think of them? Did anyone think of women who had to walk home last night in a city full of drunken creeps? Of seniors on a fixed budget who had to fight just to get home? Or did they think about their cars and houses and how they want bigger cars and houses.

    Frankly, and to be honest I feel that this last line might get cut, but its as true as I feel. The union might view this as Worker VS Boss, but that idea is exactly what many of us in the public get so angry. If it is Worker VS Boss then what are we, what is the public? The answer: worse then sh*t. We are nothing more then pawns to be USED to make a point.

    I dont like being used.

    Steve: In a large public sector union whose services affect everyone like the TTC, there is a third, unseen party at the bargaining table: the public. If the union treats the “other side” as mortal enemies, and fails to explain its position to the public, let alone get their support for a better settlement, they destroy the political support they need to wrest a better deal from management and their political masters.

    In a previous strike, decades ago, the union had the upper hand because they were able to show that management was bargaining in bad faith, or at least taking hard line positions on issues that were not worth fighting about. This meant that the union position gained some political traction. Today, we have a union that can’t make up its mind what it wants, and appears to prefer a strike just for the sake of it with no regard for the political consequences.

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