TTC Union Threatens Wildcat Strike (Updated)

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Crossposted to Transit Toronto.

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.

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

2 comments

  1. Hmmm… at this point, I have to point to another system of fare collection and driver security.

    The double decker buses in London, U.K. have an automated fare collection as well as a protected cab from which the driver can provide fare services to passengers without metropasses or tickets.

    I don’t understand why we continue to pursue such outmoded designs for our TTC vehicles.

    The tram drivers that I saw in Prague were also in secure cabs.

    In the event of an unruly passenger on both these systems, all the driver had to do was pull over and demand that the passenger leave the bus, and if necessary, call for police assistance.

  2. The main problem that has prevented a switchover to smart cards or some other form of farechecking is a lack of capital funds. There’s barely enough to keep the subways, the streetcars and the buses running, and while there are definite benefits to a changeover, there is still a fair amount of capital that has to be put in up front.

    One thing that has to be addressed is the fact that the TTC has absolutely free transfers between surface vehicles and the subway line, and you can transfer between surface vehicles for free at these subway stations. Here’s a game you can play: start at a particular subway station and take a surface vehicle to another subway station. Transfer ONLY to other surface vehicles at that subway station. Try not to double back on your route. See how long you can legitimately ride the TTC on just one token. One person tried the Toronto Transfer Game and was able to keep it up for over nine hours. And because he was legitimately travelling from points A to B to C to D, it was all perfectly legal.

    I know there are some ways to address this: like getting smart cards that are read when you leave the system as well as when you enter it. If you fail to validate your card upon leaving, you are eventually charged the equivalent of a day pass. Still, with readers, changes to subway turnstiles, fare equipment, shields to protect drivers, etc, for over 1500 buses, 248 streetcars and 69 subway and RT stations, that’s a fair chunk of change that has to be spent up front, and with the TTC not having enough money to buy more buses to really improve transit service, that’s the reason for the delay.

    However, the Greater Toronto Transit Authority which the province just rolled out is supposed to look into a smart card program to cover the whole GTA, so assuming the province comes forward with the cash required to pay for this system, the current fare collection system may be on its way out before this decade is out.

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