ATU News Wednesday, Jul 30

Should a Bus Operator be fired for running a red light?

Should a Bus Operator be fired for running a red light? That question has gripped Toronto since the first airing of the amateur video showing a TTC going through a red light at Eglinton near Kennedy last week. Before her disciplinary meeting, the Operator, a single mother of two, who wishes to remain anonymous wrote a letter to TTC management fully explaining what happened and apologized very contritely. It had no effect. She was fired. President Bob Kinnear then issued a public statement asking the TTC to reconsider the firing and assign the Operator to another job, perhaps after a suspension. Kinnear stressed to the public that the union does not minimize the error and that the union’s strict policy is “Safety First.” Even so, the punishment should fit the offence. No one was injured and the circumstances were such that anyone could have made the same error. All major TV networks, several radio stations and newspapers carried the story, which was discussed all over the city.

An interesting twist happened on Wednesday when the man who shot the video called Bob Kinnear and said he was “devastated” that the video had caused the woman to lose her job. He gave the union permission to release his statement and agreed to talk to the media.

The TTC is unmoved by all of this. Brad Ross told the media that the TTC considers the matter “closed.” The union, however, does not. We believe that the penalty was too harsh. The TTC hired her for good reasons and invested a lot in her training. A penalty and a demotion should be enough for this error, which was an admitted mistake, but without anyone being hurt.

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ATU News Tuesday, May 20

Hudak’s transit plan is theft says Kinnear

Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak’s plan to have the province take over Toronto’s subways is nothing less than theft of Toronto’s most valuable infrastructure, paid for by Torontonians over the past 60 years, says Bob Kinnear, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents 10,000 TTC workers.

“It would be a financial disaster for the TTC,” says Kinnear. “The subway is the only profitable part of our transit system and it supports the bus and streetcar surface routes that feed into it.

“Take away the subway revenue without giving it back to the TTC and you would either lose over a hundred surface routes or have to increase bus and streetcar fares to outrageous levels. It would be the end of the TTC. Hundreds of thousands who rely on surface vehicles would be stranded.”

Kinnear also questioned Hudak’s promise that taking over all rail transit and major highways wouldn’t cost taxpayers a cent, which means the money would have to come from the private sector.

“This sounds like Rob Ford’s ridiculous promise that the completion of the Sheppard subway would be financed entirely by business,” said Kinnear. “We haven’t seen a nickel of that mythical money and neither would we under Hudak’s plan. Privatization of urban transit simply doesn’t work unless it is accompanied by large taxpayer subsidies, as in York Region, where public subsidies are an astonishing $5.11 per ride, most of which goes to the European-based companies that run the system.”

In Toronto, public subsidies of the TTC are about 90 cents per ride.

“No one who uses transit in Toronto should vote for Hudak,” says Kinnear. “He either doesn’t know what he’s talking about or he is channeling Mike Harris, who hated and financially crippled Toronto. In fact, it was Harris who filled in the partially-completed Eglinton subway in the 1995. Had it not been for that pointless false economy, we would have had a rapid transit system from Eglinton West to the airport years ago.

“As for the 96,000 jobs Hudak’s plan would supposedly create, I can’t wait to see how that number was arrived at because it makes no sense,” says Kinnear. “It is more than seven times the number of people who now run the TTC, including management. Even if you count all the construction jobs from the proposed East-West relief line, you don’t come anywhere close to 96,000.

“Hudak might have been a competent manager at Wal-Mart but we can’t afford to let him anywhere near our transit system.”

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ATU News Friday, May 16

Members vote to accept mediated TTC settlement

Local 113 members have voted to accept a new, four year deal with the Toronto Transit Commission. Earlier this week, the eleven TTC Commissioners ratified the same deal. The votes came after months of negotiations, followed by Mediation. A mediated settlement is one where both parties come to a mutual agreement with the expert assistance of a neutral Mediator.

One of Canada’s most respected labour arbitrators, Kevin Burkett, acted as Mediator. Had the settlement been rejected, Burkett would have become the Arbitrator, with the mandate to impose a binding settlement on both parties.

The new agreement forbids the TTC from contracting out bargaining unit work and provides a modest wage or bonus increase that can differ by job classification.

“Show me any other union, public or private sector, that has negotiated a 100% ban on contracting out bargaining unit work,” said Bob Kinnear, Local 113 President. “Everyone wants more money and, frankly, our members deserve more, given the difficult working conditions in Canada’s largest and most traffic-jammed city. But our members told us at the outset that job security was our number one priority and we couldn’t do any better than we have in that department.”

“Without the right to strike, which the Liberals took away from us in 2011 because they were actually scared of Rob Ford, our bargaining power was limited. But we still achieved our number one goal, and more besides.”

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