March 13, 2012
The head of the union that represents 10,000 operating and maintenance staff of the Toronto Transit Commission says his union looks forward to working with newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer Andy Byford to improve North America’s third largest transit system.
“I’ve met with Mr. Byford a number of times since he arrived at the TTC late last year and I believe he brings a fresh, new and cooperative perspective to employee relations,” says Bob Kinnear, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113.
Kinnear points out, however, that good intentions can only go so far in an overburdened, underfunded system where front line employees take the brunt of public dissatisfaction.
“The word is not the deed, as we all know. We like what Mr. Byford says about the value of TTC employees and the stresses of our jobs. But he is new to Toronto and he is taking over a management culture that has deteriorated in recent years with regard to employee respect and cooperation. Not only do some customers take out their frustrations with service deficits on front line workers, so do many front line managers, who poison the work environment.
“If you’re going to change TTC culture, start with those people, is our advice.”
Kinnear also warns Byford to be cautious with the media when it comes to employee relations.
“Trashing transit workers is a media sport in Toronto and one with no rules, even the truth,” Kinnear says. “We hope he does not get caught up in that game.”