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Bob Kinnear statement on the TTC “Whistleblower” program

Mon, 2013-07-22

During my ten years as President of Local 113, I long ago lost track of the number of times I have said that the union does not in any way condone any illegal or unsafe acts by TTC workers. Our members understand that they work in a position of public trust and any alleged violation of that trust is subject to a disciplinary process in accordance with our collective agreement.

My only concern with this new initiative is that it publicly promotes the idea that there is widespread fraud and theft on the part of TTC employees that has yet to be discovered. There is simply no evidence for this and how this is supposed to improve morale is beyond me.

What we do know is that an already bloated TTC management is bloating up even more, at the expense of better front line service. And apparently all these managers are so incompetent that they have to contract out to the private sector their main responsibility, which is the care and custody of public assets.

If TTC senior management feels that this special little program will make them look like they doing more to bring the bad guys to justice, good luck to them. But I think it has about as much chance of success as “The Lone Ranger” had at the box office.

I only wish that the same attention was paid to those many, many TTC workers who go above and beyond the call of duty to serve the public with a shamefully-underfunded public transit system. The daily injustice against our front line members is that many TTC users blame them for the inadequate system that is the dubious legacy of bickering, small-minded politicians.

Contact: Bill Reno, 416-223-7366

Bob Crow: UK’s fearless union leader dies

Wed, 2014-03-12

A lion of the labour movement has left us. Bob Crow was leader of Britain’s Rail, Maritime and Transport Union most notably the London Underground workers. He died at age 52 on March 10, 2014.

Crow was demonized by commuters for calling frequent strikes but idolized by the members for the high wages and benefits and respect he won for them. His members who operate the Underground make about $85,000, straight time.

“Tube workers are the only working-class people who still have well-paid jobs in London,” said former mayor Ken Livingstone.

There were growing ties between RMT and ATU Local 113 forged by Crow and Bob Kinnear, who got to know one another in recent years. Crow invited Kinnear to attend and address the RMT’s annual conference in Scotland in 2012 and Crow visited Toronto early last year to discuss with 113 international strategies against privatization. Crow as a fierce opponent of transit privatization and many of the 35 strikes he called were spurred by that issue.

“He was the most dynamic labour leader I have ever had the privilege to meet,” said Kinnear, who sent a tribute to Crow’s private funeral on behalf of Local 113 members.

“He was absolutely fearless in standing up for his members. The U.K. labour movement has lost a giant of a leader.”

Bob Crow, leader of Britain’s Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, denied being “the most hated man in London” after a transit strike.

By: Jennifer Quinn News reporter, Published on Tue Mar 11 2014

The Star Policards: 0 Councillors mentioned in this article

Bob Crow is someone you may never have heard of. But he could, and sometimes did, bring one of the world’s great cities to its knees. How? Simple: shut down London’s Tube.

Crow, the leader of Britain’s Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, died suddenly Tuesday. He was 52. Crow was the U.K.’s most recognizable labour figure, an idol to his union’s members — which included London Underground workers — and, at times, a demon to commuters.

For seven years, I was one of them.

Read more on thestar.com:

London’s Tube — world’s first subway — marks 150 years in operation

Climate change and transit: London’s subway system faces flooding risk

I always had mixed feelings about Crow: I very much admired his commitment to his union’s members, and was pleased they were paid a good wage in a very expensive city. (In 2011, a deal was struck that gave Tube train drivers, for example, a salary of about 50,000 pounds a year — roughly $81,000 Canadian at the time.)

former mayor Ken Livingstone told Sky News on Tuesday, “are his members.”

But when strikes were called — which happened enough when I was living in London — I loathed Crow, whom I (perhaps unreasonably) saw as the reason I was having trouble getting to work.

And I was not alone. Crow was once asked what it was like to be “the most hated man in London,” after a strike.

“If anybody says it is nice to be known as hated, they’re lying,” he told the Guardian in 2009. “But I’m not hated. They’re lying. I’m not the most hated. I tell you what, I’ve been travelling around on the trains, and I don’t get no aggro at all.”

It’s difficult to explain what a nightmare London can be without the Tube. About 3.5 million people use the underground every day and when it is shut, tempers fray. Traffic snarls. People even give up on queuing in their haste to get on a bus, and queuing, as everyone knows, is a mainstay of British civilization.

Londoners sometimes just choose to stay home during a strike, rather than face the hassle of trying to get around a huge city with chaos on public transportation, which nearly 50 per cent of commuters use to get to work, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Crow always seemed unapologetic about the inconvenience the strikes were causing Londoners, but then, it wasn’t his job to look after us: He was looking after his members.

“Some people obviously dislike me and what we’re standing for, I accept that,” Crow said in a 2011 interview with the Financial Times (which, he told the journalist, his father told him to read, and then believe the exact opposite). “But 10 times that amount of people come up and shake my hand.”

Even those who butted heads with Crow, such as current London Mayor Boris Johnson — the Toriest of Tories — admired his commitment to those he represented.

“Bob Crow was a fighter and a man of character,” Johnson, who recently had words with Crow on a phone-in radio program, said Tuesday in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News. “Whatever our political differences, and there were many, this is tragic news. Bob fought tirelessly for his beliefs and for his members.”

Crow was born in 1961 in east London. He started working on the London Underground when he was 16, and became involved with unions when he was 19, the BBC reported. Crow took over as leader of the RMT in 2002, and under his leadership, increased membership by 20,000, to about 80,000.

He always seemed like a complex man: He reportedly earned 145,000 pounds ($267,000 Canadian) as the head of the union, yet lived in social housing. The Guardian journalist Decca Aitkenhead, who interviewed Crow in February, wrote Tuesday that she was “pretty sure he considered his unpopularity among the media and political classes a signifier of success, because he wore it like a badge of honour.”

Though Crow fell out with the Labour Party — he once heckled a speech by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair at a union conference — its leader still paid tribute to Crow, saying he was “loved and deeply respected by his members.”

“I didn’t always agree with him politically,” Ed Miliband tweeted, “but I always respected his tireless commitment to fighting for the men and women in his union.”

Crow was a fan of south London’s Millwall Football Club, whose supporters have a rather rough-and-tumble reputation. Many of the obituaries penned about the union leader on Tuesday included references to the team’s famous chant.

“No one likes us,” it goes. “We don’t care.”

TTC riders brings message of transit funding needs to governments

Mon, 2014-04-07

TTC riders emerged as a response to the tens of thousands of transit users who said that they want better transit in Toronto.

Their campaigns are clever and fun, such as the TTC Sardines Award presented to Ontario Minister of Transportation Glen Murray.

Their goal is to build a TTC that works with and for transit riders. Our Vision for a public transit system is based on the following guiding principles:

– Fair and affordable fares
– Building modern, fast transit into all corners of the city as fast as possible
– Making public transit fully accessible transit
– Frequent service that connects all our neighbourhoods
– Environmental sustainability
– Respect for front line TTC workers
– Respect for fellow TTCriders

Their power depends upon the support of riders and their allies. If you share their vision then become a member of TTCriders.

ATU Local 113 supports TTCriders and congratulates them for their activism in support of a critical need for Toronto’s economic, social and environmental future.

Day of Mourning – April 28

Fri, 2014-04-11

The International Day of Mourning for Workers Killed and Injured and on the Job. A ceremony honouring fallen workers in Toronto will take place on Monday, April 28, at noon, at the memorial in Larry Sefton Park at the corner of Bay St. and Hagerman, just behind Toronto City Hall. If your work shift allows, please be there to especially honour the Local 113 members who have been killed and injured on the job.

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

Wed, 2014-07-30

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.

Thank You Sponsors!

Monday, Aug 18

We would like to extend a big thank you to all of this year’s golf tournament sponsors:

Reno Associates
ATU Local 589
Wearhouse Depot
Season Group Corporation
Northern Trust Company, Canada
James A. Knowles Inc.
Triovest Realty Advisors Inc.
Canadian Benefits Consulting Group
Ursel Phillips Fellows Hopkinson LLP
Atchison & Denman Court Reporting Services Ltd
TD Asset Management Inc.
State Street Global Advisors
Thornburg Investment Management
Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc.
Northleaf Capital Partners (Canada) Ltd.
Thistle Printing Limited
Baycor Construction Ltd.
Stern Cohen LLP
Mawer Investment Management Ltd.
Burgundy Asset Management Ltd.
ATU Local 308
Mercer (Canada) Limited
Crestline Canada Inc.
Invesco Trimark Institutional Investments
Canso Investment Counsel Ltd
The Personal Insurance Company
Phillips Hager & North Investment Management
Koskie Minsky
Mesirow Financial
AIL Canada

Toronto’s Transit Future

Sunday, Nov 9

“Stop begging – start demanding federal transit funding” says TTC union as it issues major report on state of Toronto transit and what must be done to fix it

TORONTO/ The union that represents 10,000 Operations and Maintenance workers at the Toronto Transit Commission today presented a 160-page report – Toronto’s Transit Future – that analyzes in detail the many challenges facing the TTC and provides dozens of specific and costed-out recommendations for addressing them.

“Toronto’s transit crisis is worse than most people realize,” said Bob Kinnear, President of Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, to a City Hall press conference. “The TTC had been going downhill for many years, even before the four lost years of the City’s Ford administration, when transit services were cut and bickering about expansion projects paralyzed progress.”

“Governments at all three levels must act swiftly and decisively or our city’s further economic development will be strangled by intolerable road congestion and our increasingly polluted air will kill even more people than it does already.”

Kinnear said that the union’s report is unique in its depth of analysis, its rigorous cost accounting and its comprehensive recommendations covering everything from traffic signal priority to advanced rider information tools, to vehicle life extension programs to major multi-billion-dollar projects such as new LRT routes and Mayor-elect John Tory’s SmartTrack concept.

“We don’t have all the answers, nobody does,” said Kinnear. “But for the first time in our 115-year history as a union, we have consolidated in one place the vast knowledge and experience of our members on the operational and maintenance realities of our transit system. We’ve also consulted with transit experts and rider groups to produce a source document that will serve as a guide to informed discussion and decision-making for many months, if not years, to come.

Kinnear also said the 2015 Federal election presents an opportunity to use democracy to help resolve the funding crisis.

“It’s time to stop begging and start demanding,” he said.

“Our union wants to help spearhead a united city movement to make transit the number one issue in next year’s election. Whatever our different political allegiances may be, we must speak with one voice to all federal parties: ‘Don’t try to distract us with a multitude of tax breaks, regional rivalries and socially controversial hot buttons. Tell us exactly what you are going to do to help fix transit in Canada’s largest city, right now and into the future.

“Get out of your limos, get on a bus and compete for our votes.’”

ATU has launched a special website: TorontoTransitFuture.ca, which contains the full report, a separate 32-page summary, a short introductory video and social media feedback features.

‘The work of winning human rights is never over’

Wednesday, Dec 10

The Toronto Star has just publised an article by John Cartwright and Gary Pieters on the long journey for human rights. It is written to honour December 10th, International Day for Human Rights, which marks the date in 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was passed by the United Nations.

Please check it out at: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/12/09/the_work_of_winning…

Local 113 issues statement on bus death of 14-year old girl

Monday, Dec 22

The following statement is issued by the Amalgamated Transit Workers, Local 113, concerning the death of 14-year old Amaria Diljohn at Neilsen and Finch on Friday, December 19, 2014.

“We are shocked and devastated by this grievous tragedy and our hearts go out as one to this young girl’s family and friends. No words can express the depth of our sadness for those who knew and loved her and no circumstances surrounding what happened can lessen their overwhelming sorrow.

“Our 10,000 members are of many faiths and each of us extends our personal prayer that her loved ones will be given the immeasurable strength and courage that will be needed to carry on in the face of this profound loss.”

ATU Local 113 will be making no further statement at this time and will cooperate without reservation in the police investigation of this tragedy.

Toronto Transit workers laud Parliament for added protection against assaults on transit workers

Tuesday, Feb 17

DOWNSVIEW, ON, Feb. 17, 2015 /CNW/ – The union that represents over 10,000 transit workers in Toronto and York Region today praised the Canadian Parliament for its unanimous passage yesterday of Bill S-221, which allows judges to impose stricter penalties on those convicted of assaulting public transit operators.

“It took over a decade of effort by our union to get recognition of this problem and we are grateful it has finally happened,” said Bob Kinnear, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113.

“There are hundreds of assaults every year against TTC workers alone and many more across Canada,” said Kinnear.

“Our members have been punched, slapped, kicked, strangled, stabbed and shot at, usually over a fare dispute. We have had cases where bus drivers have been dragged out of their seats and viciously beaten, just for doing their jobs. Several of our members have been hurt so badly that they cannot return to work and are forced to live the rest of their lives on inadequate workers’ compensation payments. If there’s such a thing as injustice, this is it.”

Vehicle operators are also frequently spat on, threatened and have coffee and other liquids thrown at them.

“Police and firefighters have long had the additional protection of stiffer sentences for their assaulters; it’s about time transit workers were afforded this consideration. We are not armed and cannot protect ourselves, especially when we have the added responsibility of protecting the safety of passengers on our vehicles.”

Kinnear said that while the union welcomes the change to the Criminal Code, he does not understand why employees who do not operate vehicles, such as station collectors, are not covered.

“It is disappointing that some transit workers are excluded from this additional protection,” he said. “Collectors have been threatened with guns and even shot and wounded. It was a Collector, Jimmy Trajceski, who was stabbed to death while on the job at Victoria Park Station in 1995. This exclusion is disappointing and we hope Parliament will revisit this oversight.”

Bill S-221 was introduced in the Senate in May, 2014 and in the House in September, 2014. The first efforts of the union to change the Criminal Code began in 2004.

“We hope the message gets out to the courts and would-be assaulters. We put ourselves out there to perform a public service and we deserve to be better protected on the job,” said Kinnear.

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113

Read More About it on the Toronto Star