ATU Local 113 Fights Against TTC’s Punitive Vaccine Policy in the Media

ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos has been fighting for members in the media.

Our calls for the TTC to drop their flawed mandatory vaccination policy, harmful cuts to service and advocacy for common sense practices like regular testing have reached over 13 million people through coverage in top-tier media outlets.

ATU Local 113 Requesting Injunction with the Superior Court of Justice Over TTC’s Mandatory COVID-19 Policy

Sisters and Brothers,

ATU Local 113 today filed an application for an injunction with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that seeks to pause the enforcement of the TTC’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy until an arbitrator makes a final decision on the original grievance we filed on this issue.

We request that the Court order that the TTC not put any employees on unpaid leave or terminate their employment until an arbitrator decides the union’s case, or in the alternative, for 60 days.

To be clear, this injunction is not about vaccinations. This is about protecting 2,000 members’ jobs and their means to provide for themselves, their families and loved ones.

ATU Local 113 supports COVID-19 vaccinations. We have never been opposed to vaccinations. However, we also remain firm in our belief that getting vaccinated should be the choice of each member, and as a union, we have a duty to support that choice.

The TTC has one of the most punitive vaccine policies of all transit agencies in Canada. Instead of firing unvaccinated employees and cutting service, the TTC should offer sensible alternatives, such as regular testing for the small percentage of workers who wish not to receive the vaccine, so they can continue proudly serving Toronto. These measures have already been successfully executed with Mississauga Transit and Brampton Transit and can be safely adopted in Toronto as well.

The TTC’s mandatory vaccine policy is inconsistent as it does not require TTC passengers to be vaccinated, meaning that the vast majority of people entering TTC workspaces, vehicles or stations are not required to be vaccinated. With the appropriate safety provisions such as regular testing, unvaccinated workers would not be putting Torontonians at risk.

ATU Local 113 members who have worked on the front lines throughout the pandemic should not be blamed for service cuts that will harm the public. The real reason for service cuts is low ridership, not workers’ vaccination status. The TTC should maintain service to avoid overcrowding and attract riders back to transit. Riders and Toronto’s dedicated transit heroes deserve better.

Unvaccinated ATU Local 113 members deserve to have their day in court before the TTC fires them and takes away their means to support themselves and their families.

We will keep you updated as the situation develops.

In solidarity,

Carlos Santos

President, ATU Local 113

TTC Must Stop Blaming ATU Local 113 Members for Service Cuts

Sisters and Brothers,

For years, the TTC calls us “essential” yet after working the frontlines of the pandemic for over 18 months, they are willing send our members home and cut service. TTC management needs to stop using ATU Local 113 members as scapegoats to reduce public transit service and blaming workers for the cuts they themselves are implementing.

ATU Local 113 is not opposed to vaccinations to fight COVID-19. The main issue is the TTC’s complete mismanagement of the policy. Brampton and Mississauga transit have sensible alternatives such as regular testing, why not the TTC? The TTC must allow the option for regular testing as an alternative to avoid damaging service cuts that will hurt Torontonians. Riders deserve better. Our transit heroes deserve better.

In Solidarity,

Carlos Santos

President, ATU Local 113

ATU Local 113 calls on Labour Board to stop the TTC’s Illegal Changes to Working Conditions

Sisters and Brothers,

ATU Local 113 members have put themselves at risk throughout the pandemic to keep Toronto moving. Our members have been infected by COVID at alarming rates and at every step, we have had to force management to do the right thing.

We have a plan to keep riders and members safe and, from the beginning, have called on the TTC to work with us. In response, CEO Rick Leary decided to unilaterally and illegally change the terms and conditions of employment – not once, but twice:

  • Last month, the TTC moved to impose mandatory vaccinations with no communication or negotiation. We took a stand to get them to negotiate a plan to keep the system safe while respecting members’ Charter rights.
  • Last week, the TTC responded by illegally changing Board Sign Up, which is fundamental to how the TTC operates and is an important condition of employment. It is used to adjust service levels for riders and assign work and shifts to members. On a personal level, it is also how we balance our work and family responsibilities.

ATU Local 113 is disappointed but not surprised. We have come to expect TTC CEO Rick Leary to create unnecessary conflict everywhere and all the time.

Today, we are taking both of these issue to the Labour Board.

Normally, this would be a violation of the Collective Agreement. Until a new agreement is in place, however, we are in a statutory freeze period. In the past, we could consider strike action in protest. The Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes Resolution Act took that right away and replaced negotiation with arbitration.

The same law that denies TTC workers the right to strike also states that “no collective agreement is in operation” and that the TTC “shall not, except with the consent of the bargaining agent, alter the rates of wages or any other term or condition of employment.”

The TTC’s behaviour is disrespectful to the law and to the collective bargaining process. More than this, it is a kick in the teeth to members who have come to work every day to keep the city moving during the pandemic.

This can be resolved if the TTC will come back to the table and negotiate – as required by law. Since they won’t come back on their own, we are asking an arbitrator to order them to.

In solidarity,

Carlos Santos,
President, ATU Local 113

ATU Local 113 President Calls on TTC CEO to Work Together on a Fair Vaccination Policy

Sisters and Brothers, 

Since this pandemic began, the top priority of ATU Local 113 has been the health and safety of our members. Unfortunately, we have not seen the same approach taken by the TTC.  At a time when the TTC needed strong leadership, TTC CEO Rick Leary has failed repeatedly to share vital information and negotiate in good faith with us. ATU Local 113 believes in working together to address the many challenges transit in Toronto is facing. Sadly, on a range of issues, including vaccination, Mr. Leary has shown us that he does not feel the same. 

In recent weeks, ATU Local 113 members have judged Mr. Leary and his approach, and they have sent a strong message that he has failed. Their actions show their lack of trust in the approach of Mr. Leary and the TTC. 

That message has now been heard loud and clear by Leary and the TTC. Accordingly, myself and the Executive Board of ATU Local 113 are now asking that on or before September 30th, 2021, members comply with the vaccination status disclosure set out in the TTC’s policy. 

Throughout the pandemic, ATU Local 113 has had to push management to take public health seriously. From reducing crowding on buses to allowing drivers to wear masks, Leary has consistently resisted doing the right thing until it was forced on him. ATU Local 113 was right on bus crowding, Leary was wrong. ATU Local 113 was right on masking. Leary was wrong. Transit properties across Canada have been able to serve the public while protecting its workers – Leary and the TTC have been slow and confrontational at every turn.  

In the case of vaccination policy, Leary’s failure of leadership created an unnecessary and unfortunate crisis. Other transit agencies navigated this issue thoughtfully and reasonably. We have offered reasonable solutions, but management have never offered anything except the most punishing policy possible – designed to threaten and frighten our members.  

In recent weeks, ATU Local 113 has tried to present options to the TTC and renew dialogue. We proposed that the TTC implement policies like those being adopted in Hamilton, Mississauga and Brampton, where workers have an option for regular testing. Instead of providing a counterproposal, management took the issue to the Labour Relations Board.  

I believe that every individual has the inherent right to determine their own medical treatment. This is reflected in the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Health Care Consent Act and protected by the Charter. I also believe that we have a responsibility to support and protect each other and to the public – and to work together to resolve conflict. 

The reality is that most of our members are vaccinated but are also deeply concerned that their employer is seeking to force workers to undergo a medical procedure under duress.  

For other members, the decision not to vaccinate relates to their membership in a group which has legitimate social and historical reasons for distrusting the Canadian medical system. Their choices are complicated by colonialism, racism, and other broader socio-economical forces which simply cannot be resolved in the short window for disclosure provided under Leary’s policy.  

For others still, decisions about vaccination are deeply connected to their personal and religious belief systems. These members have never before been asked to disavow important beliefs in order to maintain employment. 

The TTC has admitted that they must defend their policy in the grievance arbitration process.  We have filed a grievance to make sure members’ rights are respected and will work to resolve this as quickly as possible.  

For our members on the frontlines of this pandemic, the last 18 months have often been chilling. Those members deserve respect, information and fairness from their employer. I believe these issues can be resolved through open, honest dialogue.  

I call upon the TTC to abandon their strategy of confrontation and work collaboratively with us to find solutions that work for our members and work for Toronto.  

In solidarity, 

Carlos Santos
President, ATU Local 113 

ATU Local 113 stands with the Toronto Police Association against Mandatory Vaccinations

ATU Local 113 stands with our sisters and brothers at the Toronto Police Association who announced today it opposes mandatory vaccination, read their full statement here: Toronto Police Association Announcement. Like the Toronto Police Service, the TTC’s mandatory vaccination announcement is missing critical details that are important to our members, such as alternative options that are available.

We will work with the Toronto Police Association, and other unions, to protect the rights of members.

As a union, health and safety is our priority – we have fought hard since the beginning of the pandemic for health protections, including access to vaccinations for those who want them. However, we cannot support any TTC action that violates the rights of any member, whether it be an unreasonable exercise of TTC management’s rights, an express violation of the collective agreement or a violation of the law, including the Human Rights Code.

– Carlos Santos, ATU Local 113 President

Member Update on TTC’s Mandatory Vaccine Policy

Sisters and Brothers,

I want all members to know that I am very concerned about the TTC announcement today regarding mandatory vaccination.

Local 113 supports the right of every member of Local 113 to make their own informed decisions about their personal health matters, including vaccination. We oppose mandatory vaccination of Local 113 members.

As Mr. Leary said in his statement earlier today, the TTC has made this announcement without having crafted a policy. The TTC has clearly not finalized how any potential policy will work, or made clear what alternatives to vaccination (if any) will be offered. The TTC has also not made clear what consequences (if any) will flow from a member’s refusal to be vaccinated.

Whatever the TTC ultimately determines, please know that Local 113 will aggressively oppose any action of the TTC which violates the rights of any member, whether it be unreasonable exercise of management’s rights, an express violation of the Collective Agreement, or a violation of the law, including the Human Rights Code.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me, your Board Member, or any Local 113 officer to discuss this or any other issue.

Carlos Santos
President of ATU Local 113