TTC STRIKE: Workers to walk out at midnight

Sixty-five per cent of TTC workers rejected the contract recommended to them by their union executive, prompting a strike set to begin at midnight.

The almost certain-to-be-turfed union president Bob Kinnear had this to say in a public statement, according to the Globe and Mail :

“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…We have a legal responsibility to protect the safety of our members and so does the TTC.”

The union executive, which has a credibility of next to zero given the membership’s vote, will meet on Saturday morning to figure out its next steps.

My immediate reaction to this as a political issue is that management now has the upper hand. Sure there’s a strike but no one in their right mind would think TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone brought forward an unfair offer to the workers, as the union executive recommended it to their members.

Now I’m off to try to get one of the last trains downtown. I was planning to cab home anyways but given the demand on the taxi industry it may be a brisk walk from King and Bathurst to St. Clair and Christie.

If you are going downtown, expect a certain degree of chaos as people who haven’t seen a news source since 10PM will be entirely unaware of the strike.

Photo by photo71

68 comments

  1. Only a group of people as out of touch as TTC employees would find a 3% raise + a guarantee of being the highest paid employees in the entire GTA, forever, as being absurd.

    Unbelievable.

  2. Wow. I’m not cheesed at the fact that they’re striking but that the strike notice has gone from 48 hours to fewer than 2. I feel so bad for those who have gone out tonight and expected to take the TTC to get home. Kinnear has stated that the union needed to protect the workers, so no long notice. But couldn’t the union have asked workers to withdraw their service before the start of service tomorrow?

  3. “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”

    What, do they think it’s going to be all sweetness and light when they DO decide to come back to work? The negligible percentage of people making threats during a 48 hour notice is going to be replaced by a larger amount over a longer period of time when service is restored because of this. I think the union has just screwed itself.

  4. I really hope that someone is calling up the people clubbing, bar-hopping in the downtown core.

    For the moment, im glad i work in markham. at least i can actually get to work by car.

    i cant remember where i saw it, but it looks like the sticking point is still 100% wages for those on sick/injury leave…..

    sorry to say this, but it looks like there might be a few more members going on that list.

  5. Yikes!!

    What ever happened to “we won’t strike without 48hrs notice”

  6. note: this is not a threat, just a belief that ALOT of people will be pissed off, and the rage will go towards really negative actions. this will just be a spiral unless stopped

  7. “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…We have a legal responsibility to protect the safety of our members and so does the TTC.”

    Won’t the general public be angrier once the strike ends and union members go back to work. There will probably be a higher possibility of assaults due to this unpredicted strike.

  8. They turned down 3% per year? Seriously? Time to automate TTC subway cars (both driver and guard). Contract out cleaning of stations (which, as Adam Giambrone has pointed out—I haven’t noticed getting any cleaner).

    I’m a leftist generally… a card-carrying union member (to a different union). And even I thought 3% was overly generous. That’s not the rate of stagflation.

    If there’s any justice in the world, Toronto will quickly realize it made an overly generous offer and find an alternative way to staff this important public service. I’d rather see a responsible next contract than a quick resolution to any of this.

    In the meantime, I’ll just ride my bike. Thanks.

  9. Wow, what a mess. There wasn’t even any warning that “in the unlikely event of a No vote”, a strike would start almost immediately.

    It really does make a great case for an “essential service” designation. People say arbitration favours the union, but how can it get much better than 3% each year and some being guaranteed the highest pay in the region?

  10. I love strikes! For those that want to see more people on the streets, your wish is granted!

  11. Okay, the main question I have is: What’s at King and Bathurst at midnight that’s so amazing you’re willing to walk home to St. Clair and Christie??

  12. “The almost certain-to-be-turfed union president Bob Kinnear.” Why do you say that Adam? Watch and see what they will end up with.

  13. It’s hight time Toronto opened up to outside investors within the transit network, and look up to cities such as London, Tokyo etc, who have had years of experience integrating independent operators within a city-wide, city-managed, one-fare network. One company, one monopoly, cannot and must not be allowed to leave hundreds of thousands people a day stranded, almost on an annual basis.

  14. Talk about sandbagging a lot of workers who rely on the transit to get to and from their jobs after midnight.

    Why the TTC workers would throw public goodwill down the sewer by pulling this stunt is beyond me. Really it could be less in their self interest to do this.

    Sucks. It’s a long and dangerous walk home for me.

  15. After using the TTC this evening, I am of only one thought. So What!!

    I can afford to say that since I am retired. BUT, I have ridden for over 35 years in the downtown area and the drivers have never been worse.

    Rude,obnoxious,sarcastice, eye rolling, cell phone using, racist, uncaring, and do not deserve the well paid jobs they have!

    When you do get one who is pleasant and courteous, you do a double take, and can’t believe your fortune. I will ride my bike in the meantime.

    Thanks for reading

    Tonight on a Dufferin Bus, just got on, with two heavy bags, he suddenly brakes, as I was just mid sitting, at the front of the bus, nearly winding up head over heels, down the stairs.

    Not a word from this driver, sorry ms, are you ok
    ms. That car just came from nowwhere, not my fault, hope your ok. This is their manner and their customer care. They do not care, they just want the money because. 9 out of ten of them, looked bored out of their tree, so why bother greeting their customers, or saying your welcome, when you say thank you.

    All you have to do is take some rides and jude for yourself. I have witnessed racism, sexism, and downright rudness, on other passengers as well as being a victime. I will be glad when they privatize it. Well I get better customer care? I think not, but it won’t be worse, and when they make $15.00 and hour instead of the ridiculous amount they do, for , non brain surgeons, I think we will all be better off.

    Strike now indeed, because the publice will insult them. They insult the public every single day, for entire shifts.

    Anywyas…that’s my comment. I will stand by it.

  16. I wouldn’t have assaulted them. But had someone been there when I found out I had to walk home after work tonight, I would have told them very clearly that I don’t think they deserve what they have now, nevermind what they are asking for.

  17. Sorry, gotta disagree with your observation that “no one in their right mind” would think the offer unfair. The fairness or unfairness of the offer is determined not by the Union executive but by union members. That’s why settlements are described as “tentative” until a ratification vote passes. In this case the settlement was rejected by a strong majority of voting members, who have all week broadcast their unhappiness with the offer. In this sense the strike can hardly be seen as a surprise.

    I’ve seen a lot of media reports focusing on how commuters will be “inconvenienced” by the strike. Of course we’ll be inconvenienced: that’s the power of a strike. But “inconvenience” isn’t sufficient to justify calls to make the TTC an essential service. It may well be essential, but the timimg of such demands smacks far more of coercion than the strike does.

    Want a quick resolution? Encourage the TTC Commission *and* the ATU executive to come up with a settlement that will be palatable to TTC workers. Back-to-work legislation may be inevitable and may even be in the public interest, but it’s reprehensible when deployed simply to try an end-run around the negotiation process.

    Like 1.5 million other Torontonians, I’ll be “inconvenienced” by the TTC strike. I don’t drive and am finding pregnancy putting increasing limits on my ability to bike around the city. During a strike I’ll find it a challenge to commute to work and to important medical appointments. But I’ll support striking TTC workers because I believe in their legal right to do so.

  18. “The almost certain-to-be-turfed union president Bob Kinnear.” It’s a logical statement. Kinnear said the agreement was a good one and recommended his union accept it. 65% of the union rejected it. Kinnear’s statement that one hour notice is a safety issue is simply his attempt to keep his job as union president. Like Adam, I think Kinnear is out.

    My weekend plans are screwed. Not the end of the world. But all those people who can only get to work this weekend by TTC — they are going to be understandably angry. Taxis are expensive and lot of people can’t afford them.

    If the TTC workers think everyone had a hate-on for them previously, they will definately find out after this stunt. And one hopes the province will declare the TTC an essential service as they threatened to do last weekend.

    The TTC union didn’t just shoot themselves in the foot, they took a machine gun to their feet.

  19. I was just thinking the other day how miserable most of the drivers on the 501 are.

    Yesterday I watched a driver let people get onto a street car at Simcoe, knowing that he was short-turning at McCaul and they obviously hadn’t read the destination but not saying a word. How hard would it have been to point out to them that he was only going one more stop? It’s pathetic customer service, they just don’t give a crap and deserve their reputation.

    The few exceptions are really outstanding, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground with these guys.

  20. fuck shit damn. really pissed off.

    though I disagree. Most operators seemed decidedly middle.

  21. MAKE TTC AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE!!

    LET’S GO PICKET DOWN AT THE UNION HEADQUARTERS AND TTC DAVISVILLE!!!

    Outrageous! AUTOMATE SUBWAYS AND OUTSOURCE CLEANING!! I definitely haven’t noticed any cleaning at St. George or any other station. If they are going to make big money they have to EARN it.

  22. Was on a streetcar just around midnight (this car was running its last route) and another passenger and I got talking to the driver about the strike… he said its the maintenance workers who have issues with the deal and “if it was just the operators, there would be no strike”… Sadly the general public isn’t going to know or care who’s responsible, and will take out their frustrations on the only people they see (collectors, operators) and these guys probably won’t deserve whats coming their way… not a good situation in so many ways.

  23. Well…Bob Kinnear wanted to make the papers and he did. Good for him. Too bad it’s the last gambit he’ll ever play.

    Well misplayed…douche.

  24. RE: “Sorry, gotta disagree with your observation that “no one in their right mind” would think the offer unfair. The fairness or unfairness of the offer is determined not by the Union executive but by union members…In this case the settlement was rejected by a strong majority of voting members, who have all week broadcast their unhappiness with the offer. In this sense the strike can hardly be seen as a surprise.”

    But I have to ask what is fundamentally so wrong about the TTC contracting out maintenance work that outside parties can do better for cheaper? I simply don’t buy the argument that unionized labour ensures higher quality work–a quick survey of a TTC station tells me otherwise.

    After all, it’s not in the TTC’s mandate to keep a permanent staff of over-paid, under-performing workers. It needs to ensure fair treatment for workers, certainly (and the city has shown considerable good faith in this negotiation), but it also needs a lot of organizational flexibility to meet fiscal challenges. Otherwise, caught between penny-pinching governments and a militantly self-interested workforce, the TTC’s prospects are bleak indeed.

    The most disturbing thing about the ATU is their willingness to set back the transit cause for personal gain. The TTC is just coming out of a long slumber with good press trickling in over service improvements, station renovations etc. The union managed to single-handedly erased much of that gain even as the rest of us try to support and promote TTC’s image.

    Amy, I’m glad you are facing the situation with equanimity, but do realize that many others are considerably more frustrated, and the most tangible object of their frustration is the TTC itself. Once again, transit loses; not so for the union.

  25. I was at the airport just before midnight … had no idea what was about to happen as I had been on a plane for 3 hours … I thought I was lucky when the 192 Bus was right there … jumped in … the driver said nothing, and told me I didnt have to pay … it was only as we were crusing down the 427 that I began to wonder if his refusal to take my fare had to do with some sort of job action… my fears were confirmed upon arriving at Kipling station when the driver ripped his entire deck of transfers of their holder and threw them on the floor.

    At Kippling i was officialy advised of what was my growing suspcision … I had to get downtown … there were 100’s of people on the street, and very few cabs. So … I started walking (rolling lugage and all), walked for east on bloor for 45 minutes before i finaly found a cabby willing to take me downtown … needless to say he got a 20 dollar tip.

    I have no problem with a strike in principle … it is their right (for now at least) however the bus driver at the airport could have said something so I could have at least taken a cab from the terminal rather than have a 2 hour adventure.

    If nothing else it makes a great story, good luck to everyone trying to get around this weekend … and good luck to the TTC when they have to put up with less understanding customers than myself when they get back to work.

  26. Pingback: Dear Toronto #11 - Metronauts at Dear Toronto

  27. While I agree with Amy’s sentiments, I lose sympathy when they do this on such short notice. Very poor PR. Just very very bad for everyone involved. I don’t know how they think they will get a better deal. All the cards are in the TTC management’s hands.

  28. When I said “no one in their right mind would think TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone brought forward an unfair offer to the workers,” my intent wasn’t to speak of who is right or wrong, simply what the perceptions would be. And I assure you that very, very few people will pin this on Miller & Co. If anything, it makes the original deal look all that much more reasonable to those who said the Miller Administration gave away the farm with the tentative deal and forces Miller into a corner on the essential service question.

    Rami: Kinnear is toast. I don’t buy that he engineered this defeat. If he had, he would have treated it as he did the negotiating process (lots of contrived drama). Instead, he holed up during the voting process, refused to answer questions afterwards and had the ATU 113 office refuse to answer any questions except through a designated mouthpiece. That’s all indicative of crisis management.

    This fiasco shouldn’t be an excuse to trample on the rights of workers but I’m positive ATU 113 will come away with more concessions than benefits. My guess is the only tangible gain they get if this is resolved through an arbitrator is that the maintenance workers receive the same consideration under the GTA pay clause and little, if any, more.

  29. And for the record, I got to St. Clair West station at 11:37 and barely missed the last train. Knowing that I was cutting it close I was less exasperated than most. At the collector’s booth in the station there were about a dozen very annoyed customers demanding answers from an intimidated TTC employee.

  30. Good for the TTC workers standing up for themselves. If only more workers were able to follow their example.

  31. I’d be willing to bet that a private operator would be able to turn a profit with no fare increase and no subsidy simply by disbanding the union, cutting wages to reasonable market levels, ending sweetheart sole-source contracts with Bombardier and developing real estate above underused TTC properties.

  32. Re: EJ Allen

    Wow, he really screwed you over. I mean… the Airport Express could have gotten you downtown for the amount of tip you gave your cabby, not to mention the time you’d saved. Maybe he was stupid enough to think he was doing you a favour…oh god~

  33. While I don’t think hurling abuse at transit worker is productive, I do not agree with the logic of ‘what if the worker I am hurling abuse at voted for the contract’.

    People, this is the union. By joining the union, they agree to stand together as one (hence the word union). No matter how they voted, at the end of the day, they have to be responsible for their own union’s action.

    Don’t hurl abuse. Just give them the evil eye…

  34. Amy. “inconvenienced” does not need quotation marks if you are one of the thousands of people who have no other means of getting to work.

  35. During the negotiations, I was of the opinion that everything the union was asking for was reasonable. Then the deal came down giving them pretty well everything they wanted, PLUS a guarantee that drivers will be the top of the GTA pay scales.

    This is now rejected, and the 48-hour notice period given during the negotiations has evapourated. Now back to the bargaining table, and there is no guarantee that anything that was in that tentative deal has to remain in any new negotiations, just like the 48-hour notice did not remain.

    Of course, in our half-assed world, they will be ordered back to work and it will go to binding arbitration, which generally favours what the union wants.

    Forget making just the TTC an essential service, EVERY civil service job should be made an essential service. After all, the government is essential (though, some might debate that) and therefore everything the government does is essential. If there is even one job being done by a civil service that can truly be said to be not essential, get rid of it because the government should not be doing that. That said, simply declaring civil service positions (or just the TTC for that matter) essential would be as half-assed as waiting to ordering them back once a strike commences. Such essential service legislation should be accompanied by binding arbitration guidelines that some form of a “labour court” would operate under to ensure the arbitration is balanced in fairness for both sides.

  36. It’s incredible, to hear all the transit-advocates, on one day bemoaning higher fares, and on the next, encouraging people to not “trample on the rights of TTC workers.” The reality is that if the TTC outsourced all its operations, and therefore cut its labor cost in half, it would have hundreds of millions more dollars every year to provide quality service. Fares would go down, routes would go up – new routes my even get built. Is the rights of 9,000 rude, overpaid people worth what we’re passing up as a city by paying toll booth collectors $100K/year?

    If other transit systems (including YRT) do it, what is there to say the TTC shouldn’t do it, also? I’ll tell you, the drivers on VIVA are far more friendly than the rude TTC employees on any day of the week.

  37. EJ Allen wrote about Friday night’s experience on the 192 bus, “the driver said nothing, and told me I didnt have to pay”

    What the union ought to have done was announce that starting at midnight, they would work to rule by ceasing the collection of fares.

    Naturally, this would probably lead to a lock-out in the morning by the TTC, and the public would end up seeing the shutdown as a strike and blame the union, especially the front-line operators and collectors anyways.

    Even so, there is a pretty good chance that all those people out on Friday night intending to use the TTC to get home would have appreciated a free ride. Instead, they got a proverbial kick in the groin.

    I had visions of this happening about mid-week when I heard an interview with a maintenance worker on a radio station. He was going on about contracting out, which was not an unreasonable point until he mentioned warranty work. He was upset that work being done on new vehicles under warranty by the manufacturer was being done on TTC property instead of shipping the vehicles back to the manufacturer (a rather “green” way to do the work, IMHO). While there may be a concern that the space being used could not be used for other work that would be performed by employees, he focused on the work being lost to “outsiders”. This is work that would never be done by TTC employees because it is warranty work. His comment foreshadowed a mind set that helped vote the agreement down.

  38. The T.T.C employees have to deal with alot of inconsiderate and rude people, to put it lightly, during work hours. The way I’ve seen them treated makes me realize that the public take them for granted 100%. This strike is also incorporated to the rising prices of gas and soon to be wheat products. This is not be the root of their motive to strike but in the long run it’s the city itself that does this to us. Don’t blame the T.T.C. They are just trying to earn a good living and most of you people despise them for it. But you have to admit, the prices for everything now is absolutely crazy. No wonder they need more money. To maintain a house payment and car payment and insurance… need I go on. I’m with them in their strike, every penny counts but does not go a long way in Toronto. Besides it won’t hurt nobody to take a walk or a bike ride to work. That’s exactly what this city needs. TO GET OFF IT’S LAZY BEHIND. As for the 48-hour notice- tough… walk it. That’s what you get for treating the T.T.C. employees like speed-bumps.

  39. I think this may all be an attempt by the union to be declared an essential service. The are benefits in that for both parties.

    A likely to be successful attempt.

  40. The union is acting like a spoiled child. Time to ground them. Pass a NY-esque Taylor Law and forbid transit strikes from ever happening again. It’s over.

  41. Markus – no one is taking the drivers for granted, and think of it as Toronto’s poor subsidising ticket collectors’ $100k salaries. Why do a select few have the right to earn such a relatively high living for little skill or work at the expense of the rest of us? I disagree with everything you said, my experiences are very very different from yours. I ride the streetcar everyday, and everyday the drivers are rude and obnoxious, and also seem to enjoy braking suddenly on purpose to cause discomfort to commuters. Unions may have functioned in the interest of their workers once, and ideally are a terrific idea, but times have changed, and that ideal doesn’t exist anymore. Not when most of the workforce isn’t unionised, and ends up worse off because public money is spent on disproportionately high wages. And if their main argument is compensation for “abuse” on the job, by that rationale commuters should ride for free because of the state the system is in. Jampacked like sardines with those same people the drivers are so afraid of, what compensation do the riders get for that?

  42. Bwah! After a couple of years of trying to talk dh into taking the subway to his evening job instead of driving, he finally took the TTC for the first time on Wednesday and ended up stranded last night… Could the timing possibly have been any worse??? The only bright side is that he’s going to have to bike now, since driving over the next few days will be a nightmare – maybe he’ll get hooked?

  43. Markus – “Besides it won’t hurt nobody to take a walk or a bike ride to work. That’s exactly what this city needs. TO GET OFF IT’S LAZY BEHIND. As for the 48-hour notice- tough… walk it.”

    Tell that to someone who lives in Scarborough and works down at Yonge & Dundas. Or vice versa. Or anyone living up in Vaughan or Etobicoke and doesn’t drive and needs to get downtown for work or for school or for appointments. What about the disabled and elderly? Yeah, I guess they’re all just going to have to walk.

  44. Perhaps this is the hangover talking (it was a long, strange walk home at about 2:30am last night) but I see a couple of positives coming out of this situation.

    1. Bob Kinnear will not be Local 113 President for much longer. He couldn’t hold his membership together and in turn they rejected an offer he signed.

    2. Under new leadership, the public and the union can start rebuilding their relationship. Less hair grease and more sense would be a welcome trait in new union leadership.

    3. Kinnear failed in his malicious war against Gary Webster. Hey, maybe Webster’s no peach, but he didn’t anyone else to come in to do his job and Miller and Giambrone seem to respect him.

    There are also some negatives:

    1. The new union leadership will NOT have the opportunity to show their good sense before transit is declared an essential service. It’s always better when people can clean up their own mess without legislation. Too late for that now.

    2. The people who can least afford it get f’d by a strike.

    3. More bad publicity for our transit city.

    All in all, this was inevitable. Mr. Kinnear seems to have been taught his trade by union elders who think this is still 1970 and that organized labour needs to show muscle over brains. This creates a growing anti-union sentiment in the public. (Note: I choose the term “anti-union” specifically. I don’t think Torontonians are generally anti-labour.) The result is a hostile ridership and a sense of victimization for operators. All this has to come to a head eventually. Well, this is it.

    In the calm that will come after this, let’s hope cooler heads prevail and we can start to rebuild all this bad blood has torn down.

  45. Scott: “inconvenienced” for me means commuting from the Junction (near High Park) to York University, where I work. That means I span virtually the entire city from south to north, a trip that’s almost all uphill. I used to bike this distance semi-regularly, a 50 minute trip there (faster than transit, incidentally). I can’t bike this kind of distance right now because I’m 5 months pregnant. I’d say that’s “inconvenienced”. And still I support the striking workers.

    Everybody:

    First, I hope you’ll tone down the abuse threats a bit.

    Second, on the merits of the contract just rejected — well, this outcome is fully within the outcomes accommodated within the Labour Relations Act. The strike is legal. Mayor Miller’s grandstanding is as “outrageous” and “irresponsible” as the strike he deplores but could easily have predicted. Just because a union executive is willing to swallow a contract doesn’t mean members are forced to choke it down. That’s what contract votes are for; like, you know, ensuring a democratic outcome? Perhaps someone should explain this to the Mayor.

    Third, on the TTC being declared an “essential service” — perhaps it is, but why does this issue come up only when a strike is pending or ongoing? Bring up the issue at some other time and you’ll have greater credibility in arguing for its importance for accessibility, health and environmental reasons.

    And finally, I’d suggest people treat the strike like the 2003 blackout almost everybody seems to have romanticized. Relax, get out your bike, and roll with it for a day or two. See the city in a way you haven’t before. Walk to work (even if it takes you an hour or two — an average person can traverse 6-7 km/h easily). Reflect on this interesting intersection of democracy *and* labour rights. And when you get back on the bus, thank your driver for the service.

  46. Amy, it is alright to uphold worker rights, but you’re verging, if not already, blind ideological support for the union. They had a good deal, they have blown any mushy-middle public support they may have had. That, is that.

  47. “Besides it won’t hurt nobody to take a walk or a bike ride to work. That’s exactly what this city needs. TO GET OFF IT’S LAZY BEHIND. As for the 48-hour notice- tough… walk it.”

    Wow, what a complete lack of understanding of the majority of people who use the TTC. The people most hurt by this strike will be the people who can least afford to be. Arrogant and petulant remarks like yours won’t help them. The union has treated the public like dirt.

    The ‘root’ of this strike is the complaint of the engineers who want a closed shop, who want to bar outside companies from taking engineering contracts. Wages are not the issue with this strike nor is it welfare.

  48. Amy, Kinnear thought this contract was reasonable and offered it to the members but the engineers weren’t happy they would have to compete with external contractors. This isn’t grandstanding by Miller (for once), everybody in this city is angry as hell at the TTC for pulling this crap, for striking without warning after promising to give us 48 hours notice.

    Once again, telling people to just suck it up and enjoy themselves isn’t going to help the majority of people who can’t just walk it off and who are losing money and care.

    I support union rights, I support workers, but the way this union has behaved they deserve nothing but our indignation.

  49. I think Adam is right that Kinnear will go down, because he clearly negotiated a deal that split his union. It’s specifically his fault that this screw-up has happened.

    It looks like the deal was good for the TTC employees we all see (drivers and fare collectors) but that the less visible but obviously more numerous members (maintenance workers, etc) felt he didn’t work as hard on their behalf and that they got fewer benefits from the deal than their fellow-members.

    I wonder if the maintenance workers are also more militant precisely because they don’t have to bear the brunt of public wrath? It sounds from some of these stories like the drivers and collectors are (rightly) pissed off about having to go on strike.

    Having had his recommended deal rejected so soundly by his union, the only reasonable course of action for Kinnear is to resign. He’s lost the confidence of his members (and he never had the confidence of anyone else).

    On another note, I’ve taken transit for years and I’ve found the vast majority of TTC employees to be neutral and competent. I don’t see why we should expect anything more than that. A few are friendly and go out of their way to be helpful, and about the same number are rude and unhelpful. Maybe the rude ones stick in people’s minds more.

  50. Some observations on others’ comments.

    1. The union has set their standards way too low. This strike may be legal, but it was hardly considerate of the riding public. They gave no thought about the thousands of people they stranded across the city. How many of these workers would be happy about making their children and spouses with few means of returning home ?

    2. If you wanted to strike, go ahead but at least finish your shift. Make an announcement so that people could at least get on the system and make it home safe. Don’t just vote and walk immediately.

    3. I guess that sixty year old grandmother was too lazy to walk from her home in Scarborough/North York/Etobicoke/etc. to her job. Make her walk every bloody step ! Might just make her work off her extra pounds ! Maybe those striking workers could accompany her like a drill sergeant and “motivate” her.

    4. Bob Kinnear was worried that about a few insults ? What is going to happen now that they’ve pulled the plug on the city with NO warning ? “We’re just storing up our hugs and kisses for the workers when they get back. Turn the other cheek to receive it on both sides.”

    5. Warranty work should be done by the manufacturer, not by the TTC. If I bought a product and it didn’t work, should I fix it myself ?
    Why should I – I paid for a working product and the manufacturer should make it work. And if they come to my premises to fix it, it saves the time and trouble bringing the unit to their company.

    6. How many of the riding public is actually violent/abusive ? I am thinking of the average person who only wants to go from point A to point B, wants only decent service at a reasonable price.
    Surely, that 60 year old grandmother is not going to be kicking/slapping your average TTC worker ?
    Yes, there are assaults but don’t say that every person getting on a bus/streetcar/train is going to hurt them.

    7. Will the union be held accountable for this (short notice) in any way ? Probably not. I expect that they’ll get everything they want. Too bad.

  51. I’m pissed off by this strike too, but I’m sick of hearing the “$100K ticket collector” soundbite. There is ONE ticket collector who managed to earn 100K by working more than 1000 extra hours last year. The ticket collectors typically max out at ~55K, which is a pretty good wage for what they do but is hardly exorbitant.

  52. RE: “fair treatment for workers”

    I support fair treatment for workers, but fair treatment, in spirit if not in reality, should only include a safe/comfortable environment and pay that is commensurate with qualifications/responsibilities.

    The TTC should not be in the business of providing “iron rice bowl” style job security; no public agency can afford to operate this way in this fiscal environment. But I guess that’s hard to swallow for union ideologues and workers with a bloated sense of entitlement.

  53. Bernard: How good to know that your support for workers’ rights is limited only by your desire not to be inconvenienced by their wish to exercise them.

    Miles, Larry, others: I would find your concern for the underprivileged and under-serviced more convincing if it was part of a broader and more consistent pattern of advocacy. I’ll be curious if, six days from now, any of those who have objected to the strike because it hurts those who can least afford it are doing anything to help out these same people.

  54. Amy, I agree with you that the workers had a right to vote down the contract. But surely Bernard, Miles, Larry, and others have a right to express their opinion regardless of their record of selfless community service?

    Look at ATU Local 1587 (GO Transit) for an example of handling the same situation much better. When 69% of their members voted down a deal, they didn’t abandon their 48-hour committment. They went back to the bargaining table and eventually ratified a deal without a strike.

    Perhaps in this case a strike was, in the long run, unavoidable — but it’s the breaking of their 48-hour promise that has really shifted public opinion against ATU Local 113. They undertook a massive campaign to convince us how valuable they were to the smooth running of the city; surely that value implies a duty of care when withdrawing their services. They can’t have it both ways.

    Back-to-work legislation would be unfair if there was a clear likelihood of a negotiated solution in short order. There isn’t. Mandating an end to the strike and requiring both the union and the TTC to acccept the decision of an independent arbitrator isn’t ideal for either side, but it is in the public interest.

  55. I think that if the TTC had some business competition they’d take their riders less for granted.

  56. Okay folks, let’s stop with the competition over who is more inconvenienced. Maybe you live at Bathurst and King and work on Bay st, and that to you is a big deal. Maybe you live in High Park, and have to get to York and are pregnant, and you’re idealistic enough to feel solidarity for the union and choose not to be inconvenienced by this. I can only speak for myself – I live in Parkdale and work up at Avenue and York Mills. I have to work – if I don’t get there, I don’t get paid. Maybe to some people who work at York U missing however many days’ pay is okay, and maybe you don’t mind paying $40 for a cab ride in stop and go traffic. I was fortunate enough to have a contingency plan, and got a lift from a friend this morning, and am now waiting an hour after work for another friend to give me a ride. That’s me. I was also luck enough to not be up shit creek last night when the workers committed the selfish act of abandoning their patrons throughout the city, endangering a wide range of commuters. I don’t think David Miller’s comments are at all outrageous and grand standing – it is his job to be pissed. Bob Kinnear agreed to a deal, and the maintenance workers rejected it based on rumor and innuendo. This is the failing of Kinnear to not have control of his members, or you can believe, as I do, that he suspected all along that this would happen, and allowed it to in order to ensure his legacy as the union boss who brought TTC management to its knees. Protecting your members Bob? Bullshit. You thought you had optic problems before the strike, just wait until you go back into service. I, too am by no means making threats, just pointing out the obvious, that if you thought patrons treated employees like shit before, don’t be surprised what happens next. You reap what you sow. I agree with many of the other posters that Kinnear will be on his way out, as I do not believe that a full 65% of the members wanted this strike. Leadership would have averted this, and it is something that Kinnear and his cronies sorely lack. Good luck, assholes.

  57. Is it still a victory for the working class if the most destitute among them are made to suffer indefinitely? I’d love a sincere explanation if so.

    And also: is it possible to be concerned about poverty while spiting a union? That one is also unclear.

  58. Amy misses the point. I can respect their right to strike, which I do, but I don’t have to respect specific reasons for a particular strike.

  59. Amy, I don’t necessarily buy the concept that workers have the right to deny people a service. Workers have a right to strike against capital; I don’t buy that they have the same right to strike against the public, since, apart from anything else, the public includes their fellow workers.

    And, frankly, I’d say that most of us who post here have privileges that cushion the impact of this strike for us. Ask a single woman caught between a day care that opens and closes at rigidly set times and an employer who fires workers for coming in late, or an immigrant woman working two minimum wage jobs to make ends meet, and you may not get a tribute to the wonders of public service unionisation.

  60. Amy, are you one of the TTC maintenance workers that voted down the deal and hijacked the millions of people that rely on transit?

  61. Tonight is Russian Orthodox Easter. I know people who missed this important event thanks to zero transit.

    But, overall, I’m with Amy on this issue. However, those most hurt by the strike probably can’t even read this blog–I know many poor people who simply can’t afford a computer or internet connection yet rely on the TTC for their $8/hour cleaning jobs. What about that Starbuck’s server or No Frills cashier you may have seen today?

  62. For everyone supporting the union and claiming “workers rights”, consider this:

    A co-worker of mine couldn’t make it into work today because of the strike, losing her about a hundred bucks she needs to pay the rent. Her hourly wage is probably less than half that of your average ticket booth agent and she can’t afford a car. Now she has to make up the money elsewhere. Some of the union sympathizers here might be speaking of their minor “inconvenience”, but the damage these actions bring have far more consequences for those who can’t afford any alternatives.

    The union workers, by anyones’ standards already make good money (the ticket booth guy gets $55k/year – compare what he does to a high school teacher making maybe $60k and ask which is the better value). I don’t begrudge them their good pay, but for the they have to face facts – no job is permanent. Financial situations change, and employment needs change. If the city can save money by sending some mechanical work back to the manufacturer, or by using private contractors for basic janitorial duties, why should they pay hundreds of thousands more for protected union workers to do the same half-assed job? Landing a TTC job is a goldmine as it is. The workers don’t need anything more, and they certainly don’t deserve anything more.

    Essentialize the service, rescind the rights of the union, and get rid of the flotsam holding the service back.

  63. Did you know I once made $100 a day and managed to save 80% of my daily wage? If you or anyone you know has problems saving money, give me a shout!

  64. Can somebody explain why, in this comment thread, nearly every example of a citizen of Toronto for whom transit is not a “convenience” is an underprivileged woman of one description or another? Isn’t that a tad reductive and presumptuous? How many of you are underprivileged women? Are you not implying that public transit could be deemed extraneous if higher-quality people were its largest users?

    Amy, this would be your cue to answer my (unrelated) question with a restatement of the union’s legal right to strike at will.

  65. The TTC has become a political machine more than 3 (three) decades ago. The idiotic decision to split the Queen street route into two parts – east of Humber and west thereof – was a nasty anti-passenger ploy. From that sting it was not far into a development of Scarborough RT. The general public screams at these times about wages, cost of tokens and so on. Just wait, when the bills for SRT reconstruction will come due. – The naive proposal about small streetcar network between Eglinton/Kngston Rd./Main street and Victoria park was naive , badly presented – and again spending money and leading nowhere.
    The Exhibition extension to Roncesvales has been presented to the public about 5 times in the past 30 years – not even one metre of the tracks has been laid yet. Both Union and management including Giambronni need a huge splash of really cold water over their heads to get out of their long-standing denial.

  66. “Can somebody explain why, in this comment thread, nearly every example of a citizen of Toronto for whom transit is not a “convenience” is an underprivileged woman of one description or another? Isn’t that a tad reductive and presumptuous?”

    Well, I used a real example. I could have used myself (the economic situation is virtually the same), but I was able to make the hour long trek to work, my co-worker, who is in her 50’s, was not. I am by no means implying that public transit would be redundant with “higher quality” (your term, not mine) users. What I’m saying – as the Star article I link to at the bottom of the page reports – is that some people are able to cope with the strike much better than others.

    Reading into your response, you seem to be taking the asinine position that public transit is a mere convenience. Had I been at my girlfriends – she lives at Yonge and Finch – there is no feasible way I could have gotten to work. I’m a student. I don’t have a car – I don’t even have a driver’s license, and I can’t afford to live in the core of the city either. Pubic transit for me, and tens of thousands of others in this city, is essential.

    The union has (hopefully soon “had”) a legal right to strike at will. They full well recognize that their service is essential (remember all the “worth a million” subway ads?). That they went on strike without more than an hour of warning is despicable.

    Link to article: http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/418906

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