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How Far We Have Come

1800’s

  • 1849: The first Toronto transportation service was launched by Mr. H.B. Williams. It consisted of four horse-drawn, six-passenger vehicles. It provided a 10-minute service between Yonge & Bloor and St. Lawrence Market for a six-penny fare.
  • 1899: ATU Local 113 was established. The highest wage was 16 and 2/3 cents per hour. Employees paid for their own uniforms and were expected to stand on open platforms in all seasons — exposed to rain, hail and snow.

1900’s

  • 1900: The first union committee to approach the company in 1900 won a wage increase of 18 cents per hour for all workers with five years seniority.
  • 1902: The union called its first strike. The company responded by calling in the militia to intimidate the strikers, but  widespread public support and strong picket lines quickly defeated the company. They agreed to a two-cent wage raise only three days into the strike.
  • 1903: The union won free uniforms.
  • 1919: World War I put a halt to the wage gains that were made over the first decade of the union’s existence. But following the war, a wave of strikes swept across Canada. Division 113 was part of this movement to win recognition for the sacrifices that Canadian workers made at home and on the battlefield. Two strikes pushed workers’ wages up to 55 cents per hour and an eight-hour day was finally won.
  • 1927: The TTC launched the Gray Coach Lines (GCL) inter-city bus service as a result of its very profitable charter bus service. Within two years, the company acquired the rights to all routes leading into Toronto. In its first year, GCL carried 280,000 passengers.
  • 1938: The union wins one week of paid vacation for operators.
  • 1935-1937: William “Willie” Robbins becomes Toronto’s second “labour mayor.”
  • 1929-1939: During the Great Depression, mass layoffs meant a big drop in ridership. The TTC wanted to lay off hundreds of workers. Instead, the members of Local 113 voted to voluntarily take off 5 days per month to save many of those jobs. They also voted to establish a relief fund for out-of-work members by deducting one per cent from their monthly wages.
  • 1954: Toronto’s transit system opened a subway system on March 3 that put the jobs of 221 bus operators that ran routes parallel to the subway at risk. By the time the subway opened, the union reached an agreement with the TTC that reduced the surplus to 30 operators. The remaining 30 retired, were given opportunities to transfer to the maintenance department or were guaranteed subway collector jobs. This was one of the first examples of pioneering a negotiation strategy that allowed members to “follow their work” with advancing technologies.
  • 1974: The longest transit strike in Toronto’s history took place for 22 days between August 12 – September 3.

2000’s

  • 2004: The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) awarded the TTC with the Corporate Recognition Exceptional Performance/Outstanding Achievement Award for their emergency service during the 2003 power failure in Toronto. Members ran extra buses, drove diesel fuel supplies around the city to refuel generators, and delivered emergency fuel supplies to tow chronic care facilities.