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Veolia Workers Vote to End Viva Bus Strike in York Region

Fri, 2008-10-10

The strike by 170 Viva bus drivers in York Region that began on September 25 will end today following a vote to accept the employer’s offer that had been earlier rejected. Full service on Viva routes will resume early Saturday morning.

Veolia Transportation had threatened through the company’s lawyer that if their final offer was not accepted by close of business today, wage retroactivity would be withdrawn and wage decreases a possibility.

“Many members had requested a vote even before the company’s unusual threat,” said Bob Kinnear, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113. “As well, the Ministry of Labour representative had advised us that in view of the company’s action, a re-vote was warranted.”

“These members are all public service workers at heart, which is why they went into this line of work to begin with. They have a strong sense of community and responsibility to their passengers. But they felt they had to stand up to the company’s disrespect for them personally and for the value of their work.

“They have made their point and will now return to work. Unfortunately, the company’s bully tactics are not going to help repair labour relations, which have been deteriorating for the last couple of years.”

Kinnear pointed out that Veolia Transportation is a Paris, France-based global corporation driven by profits, not public service.

“This scenario is typical of what happens when you let the private sector take over public services. They do everything possible to make the workers’ jobs miserable and create animosity. This drives out experienced workers so that they can hire new, cheaper workers, increasing their profits.

“We have a settlement but we will not have peace unless the company starts showing respect and common human decency towards our members.”

ATU Officers Attend Funeral of Slain Bus Driver in New York City

Mon, 2008-12-08

ATU Local 113 President Bob Kinnear led a small delegation to New York City to attend the funeral of Edwin Thomas, a Bus Operator for the Metropolitan Transit Authority who was stabbed to death by a passenger over a transfer dispute.

Thomas, a 46 year old New York City Bus Operator was murdered on the job on December 1, 2008. Witnesses told police that a young man entered the bus and attempted to pay his fare by swiping an invalid MetroCard in the fare box two or three times. Even though the card was rejected, the man sat down without saying a word. Later, he approached Thomas and asked for a transfer. Thomas told the man he hadn’t even paid his fare so he couldn’t get a transfer. Outraged, the man punched Thomas in the head twice before exiting the bus but immediately returned and stabbed him several times in the chest, then fled. Two male passengers chased the assailant but could not catch him. Other passengers tried to assist Thomas but he was pronounced dead by the time he arrived at the hospital.

The Transit Workers Union Local 100 immediately offered a $12,000 reward in the case, which was matched by New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the New York Police Department for a total of $36,000. Less than 24 hours after the stabbing, police took into custody 20-year-old Horace Moore, who eventually confessed to the crime. He was charged with second-degree manslaughter. Moore had a long record as a juvenile offender and had previously spent time in custody.

Edwin Thomas had worked for the MTA for seven years. Co-workers described him as a hard worker who did a lot of overtime. He leaves behind an 18-year old son and a 16-year old daughter.

Upon hearing the news, Local 113 President Bob Kinnear called TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint to express his shock and concern. Kinnear, along with Secretary-Treasurer Les Moore and Executive Board member Ian Mackay went to New York to attend the funeral and to extend the condolences and solidarity of Local 113 members to Thomas’s grieving union and family.

After the funeral, Kinnear was interviewed by New York’s NBC-TV News:

“Nobody, nobody, should have to go to work and face the possibility of death, just doing their job. This funeral should serve as a wake-up call to lawmakers and city leaders.”

ATU 113 Supports Greater Penalties for Guns and Assaults on TTC

Mon, 2009-02-23

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 came out strongly today in support of Ontario MPP Mike Colle’s private member’s bill that would impose a fine of up to $50,000 for anyone carrying a weapon onto a public transit vehicle and prescribe a two-year sentence for anyone who commits an act of violence against a transit employee or passenger. The union and Colle also want the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to provide for longer jail time for transit system assaults.

“We completely support Mike Colle’s initiative and our union will do whatever we can to advance it,” said Bob Kinnear, President of Amalgamated Transit Workers Local 113.

“In recent years there have been several shootings of passengers on the TTC subway and buses, including an 11-year-old girl. It wasn’t that long ago that an Operator, one of our members, was shot in the face and lost his eye and his occupation. In addition, quite a number of our members have seen people on TTC vehicles showing off guns. There should be serious penalties for this.”

Kinnear also said it was “about time” someone proposed stricter sentences for assaulting passengers and TTC employees.

“There are hundreds of assaults against TTC front line employees every year and many of them cause serious and permanent injuries. Assaults against passengers are also on the rise so riders and workers share a common concern.”

More severe penalties, however, are only a first step, Kinnear said.

“Preventing assaults in the first place requires more resources from senior levels of government for greater police presence on the system and the installation of optional plastic shields for operators to deploy when needed.

“So while we hope Mr. Colle’s bill passes and the federal government follows suit, we don’t want governments to think that they have solved this growing problem simply by imposing greater penalties.”

Kinnear added that crime prevention also means more resources for anti-violence and social integration programs. He pointed out that ATU 113 has been one of the largest contributors to the Toronto Argos Foundation’s Stop the Violence program since its inception. The program is aimed at at-risk youth in Toronto, with the participation of several Argos players.

“Our members see the effects of poverty, unemployment and youth alienation up close every day and we want to do our part to help address these social problems.

“We have to have serious penalties for assaulting people and carrying guns in public places but prevention is always preferable to after-the-tragedy punishment.”

Toronto Transit Union Member Rick Ball Breaks World Record in Boston Marathon


Rick Ball: ATU Marathon Man

Rick Ball, a TTC Subway Mechanic from Orillia, is a long-time member of ATU 113 who lost his left leg below the knee in a 1986 accident. He took up running in 2007 and quickly became a world-class amputee Marathoner with the dream of running in the world’s most prestigious Marathon in Boston.

On April 20, 2009, Rick not only ran in the 113th Boston Marathon but did so in record-breaking time. At 3:01:50, he finished in the top six percent of all runners in the Marathon and handily beat the previous 3:04:00 record for a single amputee set by Australian Amy Winters at the 2007 Chicago Marathon. Ball’s time is recognized as the new world record by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

“We are thrilled that Rick has achieved his dream of setting a world record in the world’s most famous marathon,” says Bob Kinnear, President of ATU 113, which represents 9,000 workers at the Toronto Transit Commission.

“Besides being a world class runner, he is also a world class human being, who gives much of his time to inspiring and helping children achieve their own dreams. We could not be prouder that he is a member of our union.”

One month after Boston, Rick set a new world record for the 10K distance at the Nordion Ottawa 10K Marathon. Shortly afterwards, he was invited to join Canada’s Paralympics Team and began the journey toward his next dream of representing Canada in the 2012 London Paralympics. On June 27, 2009, Rick ran the 10,000 meter event at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Toronto and finished an amazing 14th overall, winning the Gold Medal in the T44 category (single leg amputee).

For an up-to-date history of this amazing athlete, visit his Facebook page and become a fan.

Antonio Almeida Memorial Plaque Dedication

Thu, 2009-04-23

On April 23, 2009, a Memorial Plaque dedicated to ATU 113 Member Antonio Almeida was unveiled in a small park on the west side of Yonge Street between Lytton Avenue and Alexandra Blvd., just above the spot in the Yonge St. subway tunnel where a workplace accident took his life exactly two years ago and seriously injured Tony’s co-workers on the tunnel asbestos removal crew.Speaking at the ceremony in this video were Gary Webster, Chief General Manager of the Toronto Transit Commission and Bob Kinnear, President of the Amalgamated Transit Workers Local 113.

Local 113 Supports Courage Canada, A Unique Hockey Program for Visually Impaired Children

Wed, 2009-09-23

ATU Local 113 is a proud supporter of Courage Canada, a Federally-registered non-profit organization founded in 2008 by Mark John DeMontis to give visually impaired children an opportunity to play hockey. Promoting awareness and fundraising for the unique program, the only one of its kind in the world, was the reason DeMontis began his “Quest to the West” on June 27. Starting in Toronto, Mark has been inline skating the 5000 kilometres to Vancouver, where he and his team expect to arrive in mid-October.

[image align=”alignleft” image_size_alias=”300*225″ image_alt=”” margin_top=”” margin_right=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” action=”none” image_action_link=”#” target=”_self” link_title=”” sc_id=”sc1336104121976″][/image] ATU Local 113 President Bob Kinnear gives Mark DeMontis a $5,000 cheque from the members of the union at a celebration prior to Mark’s “Quest to the West” inline skate marathon to Vancouver.

[image align=”alignleft” image_size_alias=”300*225″][/image]Close-up of the Courage Canada Van.

[image align=”alignleft” image_size_alias=”300*225″][/image]The Courage Canada Van. The familiar Maple Leaf logo of Local 113 is on both sides of the van along with those of other sponsors, Tim Horton’s, Reebok and the Lions Club.

Transit Union Supports Argos New High School Football Program

Thursday, Sep 24

Local 113 was on hand at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate in northwest Toronto to celebrate the launch of the “Level the Playing Field” program of The Argos Foundation, in partnership with the Toronto Argonauts Football Club, the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Foundation for Student Success. Local 113 has been a major supporter of the Argos Foundation since its inception.

Students at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate, gathered outside on their field to witness the return of their school’s football team for the first time in 19 years. Through The Level the Playing Field Program, The Argos Foundation has provided the funding for four Toronto high schools to resurrect their football teams, lost years ago to funding restraints. This year, C.W. Jefferys at Jane and Finch, North Albion Collegiate in Rexdale, Eastern Commerce in East York and Lester B. Pearson in Malvern, have welcomed students back to the gridiron.

Rocco Signorile, Local 113 Executive Board Member for Roncesvalles/Russell/Wheel-Trans, represented the Local.

Each school will have a designated Toronto Argonauts player as an ambassador to their team, attending practices, pep rallies and games at their designated schools. Toronto Argonauts Cheerleaders will work with the school’s cheerleading team, teaching them dance routines and sideline cheers. Even the Toronto Argonauts Coaching staff are getting involved, hosting an exclusive coach’s clinic for the new team coaches.

[image align=”alignleft” image_size_alias=”250*194″ image_alt=”” margin_top=”” margin_right=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” action=”none” image_action_link=”#” target=”_self” link_title=”” sc_id=”sc1336104121976″][/image]Rocco with CITY-TV newscaster Dwight Drummond, a member of the board of the Argos Foundation and a former C.W. Jefferys student. Drummond thanked ATU Local 113 for their support of the Argos Foundation and also for our generosity in helping fund The Children’s Breakfast Club, which provides a nutritious morning meal for hundreds of disadvantaged school children.

[image align=”alignleft” image_size_alias=”250*194″ image_alt=”” margin_top=”” margin_right=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” action=”none” image_action_link=”#” target=”_self” link_title=”” sc_id=”sc1336104121976″][/image]Rocco Signorile with the quarterbacks of two of the high school teams being supported by the Argos Foundation, along with Argos QB Kerry Joseph.

ATU 113 Public Poll Finds “Huge Support” for Free TTC Rides for World War II and Korean War Vets

Wed, 2009-12-16

December 16, 2009

A public poll commissioned by Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union found that four out of five City of Toronto residents approve the idea of giving free public transit service on the TTC to Canadian veterans of World War II and the Korean War.

“We’re not surprised but we’re gratified at the huge public support for our proposal,” said Local 113 President Bob Kinnear.

Kinnear had advocated the free service for vets at the November meeting of the Toronto Transit Commission. The Commissioners will consider the proposal at its January 2010 meeting.

The poll asked 497 Toronto residents if they supported free TTC service for the vets. 80.7 per cent indicated their agreement with this idea. 11.7 per cent disagreed and 7.7 per cent were not sure or had no opinion. The poll, conducted by Toronto-based Public Polling, an automated phone survey company, is accurate to within 4.4 per cent 19 times out of 20.

“We hope this poll assists the Commissioners in making a favourable decision for vets on this matter,” said Kinnear. “It is obviously not a permanent liability because all these vets are over 70 years old. It’s about time we gave this small gesture of thanks for their service to those who are still able to take the TTC.

“We were also pleased to learn from the poll that young people were as likely as older respondents to favour the free TTC service for vets. It speaks well of them that they recognize the value of the sacrifices made by their grandparents’ generation.”

In Ontario, the cities of Windsor, Guelph and Peterborough currently provide free transit for Canadian World War II and Korean War veterans. It is not known how many such veterans live in Toronto.

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Union donates $5000 for Scarborough hospital beds

Fri, 2012-05-25

[image align=”alignleft” image_size_alias=”400*327″ image_alt=”” margin_top=”” margin_right=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” action=”none” image_action_link=”#” target=”_self” link_title=”” sc_id=”sc1336104121976″][/image] The members of ATU Local 113 donated $5,000 towards the Rouge Valley Health System Foundation in conjunction with a “bed race” at Scarborough Town Centre at which the union fielded a team. The money was enough to fund one state-of-the-art hospital bed for the Rouge Valley Centenary Hospital, the main facility of the eastern Toronto health system. The goal of the event was to raise enough for 100 new beds.

“This donation is consistent with Local 113’s longstanding commitment to give back to the community we serve, especially in the areas of health care and programs for the disadvantaged,” said Bob Kinnear, who presented the cheque to Fundraising Co-Chair Ward 43 Councillor Paul Ainslie.

Union reacts to TTC arbitration decision

Tue, 2012-06-05

Following is a statement by Bob Kinnear, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 on the arbitration award relating to Toronto Transit Commission workers.

“The Burkett award represents a compromise between the interests of both the union and the TTC. The wage increase of two per cent per year for three years is roughly comparable to other recent transit settlements in Ontario although it is somewhat less than the rate of inflation in Ontario in 2011 (3.1%) and it is impossible to predict how much inflation will further erode purchasing power over the next two years.

“As for the change that now requires a medical note for even one day of absence due to illness or disability, it will perhaps save the TTC a few dollars by discouraging workers from taking the occasional sick day off because it is so difficult to see one’s family doctor on such short notice. But it is no benefit to an overstressed medical system to have workers going to doctors because of a short-term case of flu, for example, and it is no benefit to TTC passengers to have vehicle Operators report for duty if they are feeling ill. We can only hope TTC management is reasonable in its application of this new rule. Full statement>

“Our main concern with the award, however, is not what it contains but rather what it does not deal with. As we predicted at the time of the essential service legislation, the arbitration process simply cannot replace the negotiating process in a system as large and complex as the TTC. Efficient operation of a major urban transit system requires regular discussion and fine-tuning of many issues that may seem small to outside observers but are nevertheless important to improvement in day-to-day operations. Staff scheduling issues, for example, have always been part of negotiations and there has always been a degree of give-and-take on such matters with the result always being incremental efficiencies that serve both passengers and taxpayers while meeting the legitimate concerns of the workers in the areas of job stability and skills recognition.

“But no arbitrator can replace the highly specific knowledge that both TTC management and the union bring to such detailed negotiations. And since the parties can reasonably assume that future contracts will be decided by a third-party arbitrator who will not feel qualified to rule on technical issues beyond his or her knowledge, there is now little or no incentive for the give-and-take that leads to greater operational efficiency.

“This is the main reason why TTC management itself, not just the union, was publicly opposed to the essential service legislation. They knew it would reduce their operational flexibility and that this was not in the best interests of the City. The decision to designate the TTC as an essential service was motivated by cynical political considerations at both the city and provincial levels. It was an historic mistake but one for which the cost can never be known because it is impossible to calculate what operational efficiencies could have resulted from unfettered negotiations. We can only hope that cooler heads will prevail when the legislation comes up for review in 2016.”