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Agreement reached to avoid Toronto transit strike



Riders who rely on the TTC can breathe a sigh of relief as subways, streetcars, and buses will run on Friday after an agreement was reached Thursday evening to avoid a strike.

The Amalgamated Transit Unit (ATU) Local 113, which represents 11,500 frontline TTC workers, in a statement less than an hour before the 12:01 a.m. deadline, said it reached a “framework settlement” with the transit agency.

Meanwhile, the TTC called what had been agreed upon as a “tentative deal.”

“We do not have a deal this time. We have a framework,” Marvin Alfred, ATU Local 113 president, told reporters at the Sheraton Hotel, where the negotiations were held.

“We want to make sure that all the gaps are looked after before we take something to our members. We have to make sure it’s ironed out, to make sure it’s polished for our members.”

The union said the agreement was reached after it saw “action” on critical issues such as job security, benefits and wages.

“Finally, the TTC opening up and provide some authentic offers that allow us to have some assurances to protect our members job security rights and benefits,” Alfred said on what changed the last couple of hours. Earlier in the day, he said there had been no progress at the bargaining table, and as a result, a strike was imminent.

“We know what we’re dealing with. And we know we need to protect our members so slow and steady in order to make sure that we have the assurances.”

Alfred admitted that bargaining had been frustrating and blamed the TTC for the pace of negotiations. He said the transit agency could have addressed all the issues earlier and not waited until the last minute to make a deal.

“We’ve always been there with the exact same principles and offers, proposal. Nothing has changed. They are the ones that finally stepped up. They had the confidence to get it done, and they should have brought it up earlier,” he said.

Meanwhile, TTC CEO Rick Leary said it’s a good deal for the city and the workers.

“We still have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. You can imagine there’s a lot of wording that has to be confirmed,” Leary said at a late news conference.

“But that’s a normal process when it comes to bargaining and negotiating. And over the coming weeks, we’ll do that.”

Leary was confident that there would be no strike despite the union insisting that no deal had been reached and job action was on hold.

He said TTC workers will ratify the new three-year agreement. The workers have been without a deal since their last contract expired in March.

When asked why it took until the last minute for the TTC to get a deal, Leary said:  “I think what happens is you start seeing packages coming back and forth across the table. You start looking at the packages, and all of a sudden, you start seeing a lot more commonality than you think. And then all of a sudden, boom, 11:30 (p.m.).”

“This worked out. I’m very happy.”

TTC Board chair Jamaal Myers said he’s looking forward to presenting the contract at their next meeting and getting it approved.

“This deal reflects the commitment to maintaining high standards of service for transit riders while also valuing the hard work that ATU Local 113 members perform each and every day,” Myers said.

“Most importantly, this deal will keep Toronto moving Torontonians and their families can sleep tonight with comfort that the TTC will be there for them tomorrow.”

If the strike was not averted, it would have been the first time that Toronto has seen a transit strike since 2008. Provincial legislation which designated the TTC an essential service was struck down by a judge last year, opening the door to strike action.

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