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TTC union warns of ‘total disruption’ of Toronto transit service if no deal reached within a week



The union representing thousands of TTC workers said Friday that people should prepare for a “total disruption of transit service across the City of Toronto” if no deal is reached in a week’s time.

TTC workers held another day of “practice pickets” Friday, a week ahead of the June 7 strike deadline.

John Di Nino, president Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Canada, told CP24 that workers don’t want to strike, but are prepared to in order to get what they want.

“This is an employer driven process and if the employer comes to the table with reasonable offers and, you know, reasonable wages and so on and so forth, then this strike can be averted,” he said. “But notwithstanding that we’re preparing for the inevitable and we should expect that transit service will be disrupted on June 7, pending the outcome of a successful negotiation.”

ATU Local 113 members have been without a contract since March 31. Last month, they voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike mandate.

The union represents some 11,500 operators, collectors, maintenance workers, stations staff, and other frontline TTC employees.

A transit strike hasn’t happened in Toronto since 2008, mainly because the province designated the TTC an essential service. However a court struck down that designation last year, opening the door to strike action.

“We haven’t had the right to strike in over a decade, and so what we’re doing is sharpening our tools and making sure that our members are prepared and ready to go on a strike line,” Di Nino told CP24 at the practice pickets Friday.

However, he said the bargaining team remains at the table and that a strike can still be averted if workers get “what they rightfully deserve.”

“We’re looking for all of the things that are going to benefit workers and that is fair wages, fair pensions, no contracting out and all of the things that are important to us,” Di Nino said.

Speaking at an announcement about the start of work to expand cell phone coverage on the subway system, Mayor Olivia Chow said she remains “optimistic” that a deal can be reached to avert a strike.

“I still remain optimistic as the negotiations are continuing on this weekend in front of us,” Chow said. “So when you continue to talk, it’s always good to seek some kind of solution.”

Asked whether employees should advise workers to work from home if possible, Chow said “why don’t we cross that bridge if we get there.”

TTC Chair Jamaal Myers, speaking at the same event, said progress is being made in talks.

“I am very confident that we can reach a deal,” Myers said. “Both parties are at the negotiating table where they belong. They have been there multiple times this week negotiating. I understand that progress is being made. And I’m confident that we can get there, especially when both sides want a deal.”

TTC officials say contingency plans are in place for a possible strike, however they acknowledged that it would be “devastating” for the city and service would look very different.

If no deal is reached, workers could walk off the job on June 7.  

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