TTC STRIKE: Back-to-work legislation to be passed Sunday

UPDATE (6:30PM): TTC talks break off. From the Toronto Star:

Talks have concluded between the TTC and its largest union. It will be up to the province to legislate the 9,000 workers back to the job by Monday morning. The talks failed today because the union was looking at a number of amendments to the tentative settlement reached last Sunday, a TTC spokesperson said.

Update (6:05PM): NDP leader Howard Hampton has declared that his caucus will support the back-to-work legislation being tabled at an emergency meeting of the Ontario legislature Sunday afternoon. With the legislation having now received all-party support, barring an illegal strike by ATU Local 113, this means TTC service will be back on for Monday morning.

Earlier in the day, Progressive Conservative leader John Tory gave support in principle to the bill. However, Hampton has refused to state a position on the issue before seeing the bill, saying it would be “irresponsible” to agree to vote for something he hasn’t seen. Following a technical briefing provided by Ministry of Labour officials to go over the details of the proposed legislation, Hampton said he will support it because it is essentially the same bill his party supported during the 2002 strike by garbage workers.

As previously reported, Premier Dalton McGuinty has signed an order-in-council to have the legislature sit tomorrow afternoon at 1:30PM. The order was signed just after noon today. By law, the government cannot call an emergency meeting with less than 24 hours notice.Though Tory has pledged his support in principle for a return to work bill, the PC leader urged the government to include an “ability to pay” clause in the legislation to ensure an arbitrated settlement is affordable to taxpayers. However, arbitrators’ decisions always take into account the ability of management to pay an award, making this position more about style than substance.


Around 12:30 this afternoon, Mayor David Miller appeared on CP24 to discuss the current situation and next steps. While acknowledging the union’s legal right to walk off the job, Miller expressed great disappointment in the union leadership for leaving Torontonians in the lurch.

Miller also said that though TTC management is returning to the bargaining table, it would be very difficult to negotiate with a union executive that could not “keep its word” or deliver its members’ support for the tentative agreement.

Miller, Hampton and Tory have all declined to comment on whether they will call on the provincial government to make the TTC an essential service.

Photograph by Cannon Fodder.


  1. Are we all planning to attend the Legislature’s public gallery and watch this take place?

  2. If Howard Hampton panders to the out of control union and delays the back to work legislation – contributing to a prolonged strike, he should have to stand at Yonge and Bloor for each day of the strike and inhale the sweet smell of exhaust from the inevitable bumper to bumper traffic.

    Given that this strike impacts the most vulnerable in Toronto to the greatest degree, the NDP more than any other party should support the legislation.

  3. Adam Giambrone’s facebook status says: “Adam Giambrone is working on getting the TTC going again. Thank you to all 3 parties for helping with back to work legislation. 29m ago”

  4. Looking through the Facebook status of various political staffers (city and provincial), there’s a more angry sentiment than Adam’s message. More surprisingly, there are a couple of journalists, one currently in the press gallery, one formerly in the press gallery, who have a clear opinion on what ATU 113 did (which is rare, usually they don’t express opinions on politics publicly).

  5. I am a proud NDP supporter. Howard Hampton, please don’t screw this up.

  6. MyTTC doesn’t include the ATU 113 and Bobby K. lol

    Seriously, can the TTC make its next offer a 3 year wage freeze? I’m not asking this to be a troll, I actually don’t know if that’s even possible. My understanding is that any time the offer changes in labour relations, the deal has to sweeten ie. you can’t offer 3% and then the next day be offering 2.5%. The next offer from the TTC has to be a contract of 3% plus something. If that’s true, then really the ATU has nothing to lose by striking.

    Plus, who is looking at the safety issue of women and young people who were counting on the TTC and services like “request stop” last night as their way to get home safe and sound?

    Did any assaults occur last night as the result of someone being stranded? Again, not asking this to be a tool but if something like that happened, it’s a very, very important thing for the public to know.

    It’s time for the powers that be to do something about the TTC’s chronic labour problems. The wildcat strike a couple years ago held the city hostage, but last night was just downright dangerous for women and young people.

    I hope there are some clauses in the legislation tomorrow that make it clear the ATU has to take its lumps on this one, and must pay damages to victims of assault who were left stranded last night.

  7. Hampton’s news conference was a less-than-impressive performance. I have no doubt that a great many NDP-leaning sorts–and we can probably include some members of his caucus in that number–will be leaning on him hard to do the right thing and call out the ATU for abusing their strike position. That said, the fact that he came out of the gate this morning so happily and unapologetically astride the fence shows that the solidarity-forever blinkers are still a big factor in the way that party does business.

    Oh, and Rami, given Giambrone’s political leanings, I think it would be fair to say he’s (a) one of those people probably working the phones behind the scenes urging the provincial NDP caucus to grow a pair, and (b) liable to be instinctively covering Hampton’s butt on this issue.

  8. I agree Hampton’s performance in the scrum was less than impressive, and I’m surprised he stood there for as long as he did. Having said that, I think it’s pretty reasonable (and responsible) not to sign onto legislation sight unseen, and, however unlikely it is, a negotiated settlement probably would be the best possible outcome, in terms of avoiding further labour issues down the road.

    I’m not sure I’d call the TTC’s labour issues “chronic” — in the Kinnear years we’ve had the illegal wildcat strike and now this, but prior to that the last strike (2 days) was in 1999. And while it sounds great, in theory, that the province is willing to support declaring the TTC an essential service, isn’t there a bit of a problem with declaring something an essential service, without funding it as such?

    Hampton just said on CP24 his party can support the legislation, if the TTC and the union can agree on an arbitrator.

  9. What would be interesting to speculate about is the business about “contracting out”.

    Is it possible that when Bob Kinnear sent his pleas to the Mayor to join the bargaining table it was because the managementnegotiators would not budge on contracting out?

    Is it possible that if City Hall negotiators were also at the table that those now expressing shock and disappointment would have known that there was a ticking bombshell?

    Is it possible that by trying to bust the union with threat of contracting out for some, but not others, and the proposal to pay different pay for the same work, that City Hall management was also trying to send a message to City Hall unions?

    Is it possible that the union chiefs knew that the rank and file would throw out the recommended contract, so they could say I told you so?

    I am sorry for Bob Kinnear. He asked the Mayor for help and that was turned down. Now he’s going to get crucified by his members, and Dalton gets to show that he’sa secret Tory.

    I am also sorry for those other workers who can’t get to work.

  10. First of all, I’m glad to see the Hampton has come to his senses. But I don’t think he should be let off the hook, Molly, because somehow the sole alternative was “irresponsibly signing off on legislation sight unseen.”

    One, as someone with some professional experience in the field, Hampton knows that back-to-work bills are pretty much crafted from a Word template stored in the Labour ministry’s computers. Anything beyond the standard boilerplate in this bill would have required particular political intervention by the Grits. And much as the NDP line for the past five years has been that the Liberals are just the Tories in sheep’s clothing, those of us living in the real world know better. There wasn’t ever a realistic chance of there being some Harris-style sackcloth-and-ashes clause stuck into the back-to-work bill.

    Two, there was nothing stopping Hampton from taking the Miller line. He could have called the strike unnecessary and irresponsible and agreed in principle that the workers should be legislated back to work, without binding his hands that the forthcoming bill was the best way to achieve that.

    Three, even if the bill turned out to contain some sort of nasty clause fining the ATU a billion dollars or forcing them to hand-dig the Sheppard subway extension or whatever some of the more vehement righties on the torontoist thread might dream up, there was nothing stopping Hampton from making his stand then and there, and advocating amendment in the House. It would be politically defensible to say you wanted a back-to-work order, but this wasn’t the way to get it.

    As it stood this morning, Hampton took the approach that the TTC strike was a normal and acceptable element of the collective bargaining process. For thousands of the “working families” that Hampton talks about that were stranded last night and this morning, it was neither of those things. It’s a very lucky thing for his political hide that he was subsequently reminded of this.

  11. Grace, it’s my understanding that you can special-order a high-quality, Union-made, cast-aluminum hat from the Bombardier works in Thunder Bay.

  12. TTC drivers and collectors provide, without question, the worst customer service I have ever experienced.

    Yes, dealing with the public all day can be trying. But thousands of Torontonians — like contact centre agents, retail workers, wait staff in restaurants, and (especially) bartenders — encounter the best and worst of our city on a daily basis, and the vast majority of these people exhibit professionalism, grace, courtesy, and respect as they perform their jobs. I have been a frequent TTC rider for a decade, and I most definitely cannot say the same thing for transit workers. I’m surprised when I meet a “bad” waiter, but I’m equally surprised when I encounter a “good” streetcar driver.

    Since the transit workers’ union has made customer service a key issue in this strike, I can only hope that things will improve once the job action is over. Because right now, I’d rather talk to a telemarketer than a toll-booth collector.

  13. Seriously, can the TTC make its next offer a 3 year wage freeze? I’m not asking this to be a troll, I actually don’t know if that’s even possible.

    Particularly after back-to-work legislation is passed, such a move would (I think) be prima facie evidence of bad-faith bargaining. It’s certainly possible to do, but it might get the TTC in more trouble than it’s worth.

  14. isn’t there a bit of a problem with declaring something an essential service, without funding it as such?

    Well, there’s a cognitive dissonance, sure, but it’s not like that’s a rarity in politics, where blatant contradictions are dancing the tango on the head of a pin every day of the year.

  15. Grace, you seem to have the mistaken impression that the management negotiators were working on their own agenda and that there was no information flowing from management to their political bosses. The negotiating strategy is determined by the Toronto Transit Commission (the nine commissioners) and operationalized by the management of the Commission with consistent updates from management to the chair of the Commission and the Commission itself. Inserting a new person to the equation would not have changed the strategy, and the mayor was well aware of the strategy before it was approved.

    Further, you’ve made a number of assumptions (attempted union busting for one) that can’t be founded at this point, as the details of the contract offer accepted by the union executive still aren’t public and likely never will be.

    As for whether management can try to strike a more management-friendly deal than the final offer, I understand that that is an option as the arbitrator starts from scratch (prior negotiations, for all intents and purposes, mean nothing once arbitration begins). However, making a patently unreasonable proposal in front of an arbitrator would likely end up with the union getting everything they asked for.

  16. I don’t condone a violent protest but after that BS they pulled Friday night why don’t we start a grassroots protest “PAY WITH PENNIES”!!!! It’s valid currency, as far as I know there is no policy against it and it will fill their collections boxes and just be a general pain in the a$$, and I doubt they will actually stop to count it all, that would just mean more work for them and we all know how bloody lazy they are now! Starting Monday PAY WITH PENNIES – PAY WITH PENNIES – PAY WITH PENNIES!!!!

Comments are closed.