TORONTO — Yesterday, the Ontario Superior Court struck down legislation illegally limiting collective bargaining for over 12,000 TTC workers. The legislation, in place since 2011, has been found to be unconstitutional and a violation of workers’ right to free association that is fundamental to a democracy. This is a comprehensive and decisive victory for transit workers and will have an impact across Canada.
“This is a monumental victory for our Local 113, our members, and our union. Strikes aren’t just about workers fighting for their rights and benefits, they’re a powerful tool to demand justice and fairness and inspire social change,” said ATU International President John Costa. “Strikes remind us that the value of labour can’t be measured by profits alone, but by the dignity and well-being of those who do the work. Congratulations to ATU Local 113!”
Before the decision, TTC workers were the only transit workers in Canada who were banned from striking. Without an incentive to negotiate, we have been unable to resolve big issues in the workplace, modernize the TTC, or update the collective agreement. As of today, ATU Local 113 members will be able to bargain their next collective agreement free from the infringement on their Charter rights.
“This is an historic win for transit workers in Canada. The Court has delivered a major victory for free collective bargaining in Ontario and for our Local,” said President Marvin Alfred, on behalf of the Executive Board of ATU Local 113. “Our members’ Charter rights have been violated for more than a decade. We’ve known for more than ten years that Local 113’s rights were being violated, and that the TTC had been given an unfair advantage in bargaining. Fortunately, we are now able to return to the bargaining table without unfair government interference.”
ATU Local 113 went to court seeking to strike down the 2011 TTC Labour Disputes Resolution Act, arguing that it violated its members Charter of Rights and Freedoms right to free association. The Court found that ATU Local 113 had only been on strike for twelve days in the 20 years prior to imposing the legislation.
The Superior Court decision found that:
- The legislation substantially interfered with meaningful collective bargaining, and impaired the union’s ability to bargain freely with the TTC,
- The removal of the right to strike has had a negative effect on the negotiating process,
- Employees have not been on an equal footing with the TTC, and
- The approach taken by TTC negotiators after the legislation was adopted is “particularly troubling”, with negotiators becoming “more confrontational and aggressive.