Sisters and Brothers,
Between ATU Local 113 and TTC CEO Rick Leary, only the union has been consistent in its approach to vaccinations. We have always recommended an approach that protects public health and workers’ rights. Mr. Leary, on the other hand, has arbitrarily and unilaterally changed direction.
On August 18, 2021, Mr. Leary advised us that the TTC’s vaccination policy would provide rapid antigen testing as an alternative to vaccination. Days later, with no warning, he changed course to implement an extremely strict vaccination policy which is unreasonable and ineffective. This policy will result in continued conflict, and we believe we would succeed in a legal challenge, when our focus should be on working together to find solutions.
In mid-September, we provided a comprehensive written proposal for a vaccination policy which provides antigen testing as an alternative to vaccination, similar to what Brampton, Mississauga, Hamilton have developed.
Just this week, we again asked for a meeting, but Mr. Leary took us to the Ontario Labour Relations Board before conversations could begin. At the meeting, TTC took a step backwards by saying unvaccinated members would be sent home.
Everything we have done since Mr. Leary broke his agreement aimed to bring him back to the table to negotiate in good faith. We asked our members to disclose status to demonstrate our desire to work together on a reasonable solution. That does not mean we support the policy.
As is clear from our press release, we believe mandating vaccination as a term of employment violates the Collective Agreement, Charter and privacy law. We are committed to fighting this issue at grievance arbitration if TTC does not reconsider the Policy.
From the beginning, we have proposed reasonable policies and pressured the TTC to move more quickly to protect public safety. We continue to ask TTC management to make sure there is enough space on vehicles for physical distancing and to require passengers to wear masks.
We stand by those demands today, as we have from the beginning.
TTC management has rejected all of our proposals and has never made one of their own. Picking unnecessary fights with workers only distracts from TTC’s failure to put in place measures to keep transit riders and workers safe.
TTC workers have already been under enormous amount of stress throughout the pandemic. This unnecessary and unlawful policy has only made things worse. Our members want to focus on serving transit riders. Instead, they are having sleepless nights worrying about losing their ability to provide for their families over a healthcare choice.
President, ATU Local 113