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Toronto transit workers vote ‘overwhelmingly’ in support of strike mandate

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The union representing thousands of transit workers in Toronto says its members have voted “overwhelmingly in support” of a strike mandate.


Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which represents 12,000 transit workers who operate and maintain the TTC, said a membership vote was conducted on Friday evening. According to a news release issued Monday, the union said 9,253 members took part in the voting process and 98.28 per cent voted to strike.


“The overwhelming support for strike action is a clear message to the TTC, the city, and the province, that our membership is ready to act. We are following the direction of our membership,” Marvin Alfred, president of ATU Local 113, said in a written statement.


Earlier this month, the union said it had taken the “first step” toward labour action when it applied to the Ministry of Labour to request that a conciliator be appointed after contract talks stalled. The latest contract expired on March 31, 2024.


“Our union’s intention was always to work with the employer on negotiations to deliver a new and fair agreement. However, if no progress is being made and the TTC is refusing to see the perspective of transit workers, we must move forward with a full withdrawal of service,” Monday’s news release read.


“Our members are clearly angry and upset about how they have been treated at work. We are proud of our work and know the value of our work. We have the right to protect our future and are ready to fight for job security.”


Speaking to CP24 on Monday morning, Alfred said wages continue to be a sticking point at the negotiating table.


“We know the value of our work. We’ve opened up with a fair number in order to obtain our members’ value. The TTC came back with a minuscule offer for our wages,” Alfred said.


“We are in Toronto. We know what the cost of living. We know what the rate of inflation has done.”  


The possible labour action is the first time in 13 years that unionized TTC workers are legally able to strike after a court ruling last year struck down Ontario’s designation of the TTC as an essential service.


The last time ATU Local 113 went on strike was in 2008.


In a statement, TTC CEO Rick Leary was quick to point out that it is a “common part of the bargaining process” to seek support for a strike and noted that it does not mean that a strike is “imminent.”


“The TTC values the important and challenging work that all our employees do every day to deliver safe and reliable service – the employees in ATU Local 113 are an integral part of our operations,” the statement continued.


“We know from past experience that job action by ATU Local 113 would almost certainly lead to service disruptions for our customers which is why both sides are focused on reaching a new collective agreement as soon as possible.”


He added that the TTC is “heartened” by the fact that it has been able to negotiate agreements with other unions representing TTC workers, including CUPE 2. That union, which represents 661 communications, electrical and signal workers at the TTC, set a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. on April 22 but a deal was reached at the 11th hour.


“We remain committed to keeping everyone updated on negotiations as they progress,” Leary said.  

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