Doug Ford is plotting to break apart the TTC!

Sign the petition to keep the subway in Toronto’s hands — then share it with your friends, family and neighbours to sign too.

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A night of Transit Trivia and a Welcome Party for the new TTC Board with TTCriders

Transit Trivia Fundraiser

Celebrate TTCriders’ accomplishments in the last year with a delicious dinner and trivia tournament. Hosted by Rachel Lissner, founder of Young Urbanist League, this Fundraiser is to support TTCriders’ work for affordable, world-class transit. For just $40 per ticket (and $180 for a team of up to 5 people), enjoy a delicious dinner and an unforgettable night of trivia. Drinks are available for separate purchase.

There are great prizes you can win, including a lunch with MPP Jessica Bell, Official Opposition Transit Critic, who will also be attending the event, a $750 VIA Rail travel voucher, and gift certificates to local restaurants and shops across the city.

When: Friday, December 7th, 6:30-8:30pm, doors at 6pm

Where: College Street United Church, 452 College Street

(For Wheel Trans, use 510 Bathurst so the driver can pull into lot behind building)

Get tickets and find more information. 

Also, find the Fundraiser on Facebook and on Twitter.

TTC Board Welcome Party

The new TTC Board will meet on December 18th for the first time, so TTCriders is throwing them a Welcome Party! The TTC wants to increase fares next year and the board will soon be voting on the budget, service levels, and fares. Help us introduce TTCriders and our demands for fair TTC funding, lower fares, and more frequent and reliable service. We’ll deliver a giant welcome card with a message you can sign in advance.

When: Thursday, December 18th, 12:15pm

Where: 100 Queen St West (City Hall)

RSVP here and find more details on Facebook.

Experts Agree, It’s Time to Properly Fund Toronto’s Public Transit

This week, CodeRedTO released Mixed Signals – a report analyzing fares, network design, budgets and governance structures of the Toronto Transit Commission in comparison to other major metropolitan cities across North America. ATU Local 113 agrees with the recommendations of this comprehensive report: the TTC needs new, predictable and sustainable revenue – or it will lag and continue to leave riders waiting on the curb.

The report details the TTC’s heavy reliance on fare revenue as it receives a government subsidy of only $0.90 per transit rider, compared to $4.12 in Los Angeles and $2.37 in Boston. CodeRedTO executive director Cameron MacLeod explains the implications of government underfunding, “Fewer riders on a route means that the buses are more empty, which means there’s less revenue to run those buses, so fewer buses run,” continuing, “as that happens, people make the decision more and more to avoid transit.”

The future of Toronto’s public transit hinging on revenue collected from Presto should have us all worried. Presto issues are constant, and with no new funding announcements in Premier Ford’s recent economic update, Toronto’s public transit system is at risk until the government commits to paying its fair share for operating and expanding the TTC.

ATU Canada President John Di Nino adds, “Underfunding public transit is the first step towards privatization. First they underfund public transit… then they blame the service… then they privatize the service.”

CodeRedTO is a non-partisan, volunteer-run, local and regional transit advocacy organization. Read their full report Mixed Signals and spread the message that the TTC needs new, predictable and sustainable revenue with #CodeRedTO on Twitter and Facebook.

Stand in Solidarity with IATSE Local 58

IATSE Local 58 is still locked out, and that means we’ll remain in solidarity with our Sisters and Brothers by joining the picket of the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair — just as we’ve done with other events on exhibition grounds. We’ll also continue to educate the public about why they shouldn’t attend any events on exhibition grounds. An attack on some workers’ rights is an attack on all workers’ rights.

Stay up-to-date by reading more on IATSE Local 58’s website here.

Heintzman-Baker Scholarship Announcement

ATU Local 113 is pleased to announce the Heintzman-Baker Memorial Scholarship, created in remembrance of retired International President Ronald J. Heintzman and retired International Executive Vice President Robert Baker, Sr., both of whom passed away in April and May 2018, respectively.

For each scholarship winner (there will be five in total), the ATU will deposit up to $8,000.00 to an accredited college, while one winner attending a technical or vocational post-secondary school will be awarded with $2,000.

The competition is open to ATU members, their children (natural or legally adopted) and grandchildren entering college, technical or vocational post-secondary school for the first time during the 2019-2020 school year. Importantly, all applicants must satisfy the Rules and Procedures, which can be seen below:

Applications can be obtained here, and must be postmarked no later than January 31, 2019 and sent by first class mail to: 

ATU Scholarship Program Office

10000 New Hampshire Avenue

Silver Spring, MD 20903

Read the official scholarship notice published by ATU Local 113.

Read: TTC faces workplace safety charges in death of track worker

The TTC has been charged with three offences in relation to an incident that killed our fellow brother Tom Dedes last fall. Read the article below to get more details.

TTC faces workplace safety charges in death of track worker (Ben Spurr, Transportation Reporter, October 2, 2018)

The provincial government has charged the TTC with violating provincial safety regulations in the death of a track worker last fall, the Star has learned.

The transit agency has been charged with three offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in relation to the Oct. 1, 2017, incident that killed Tom Dedes, according to a summons from the ministry dated Sept. 24, 2018.

The maximum amount an employer can be fined for violating the act is $500,000 per count, plus a 25 per cent surcharge. A hearing on the charges is scheduled for Oct. 25 at Old City Hall.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said in an emailed statement that the transit agency “will respond appropriately” to the summons.

“As an employer of 15,000 dedicated women and men, nothing is more serious than the death of an employee due to a workplace incident,” he said.

“Our sympathies for Tom Dedes’s family, friends and co-workers remains deep.”

The Ministry Of Labour didn’t return requests for comment Tuesday evening.

Dedes, 50, was an 18-year veteran of the TTC at the time of his death. He was severely injured shortly after 2 a.m. at the agency’s McCowan Carhouse in Scarborough, when he was crushed between a parked pickup truck and a moving rail car. He was taken to hospital and died eight days later.

According to the summons, which was delivered days before the one-year deadline the ministry had to lay charges under the act, the TTC is accused of violating regulations that stipulate employers must erect barriers or warnings to protect workers from vehicle traffic, and provide adequate lighting to ensure employee safety. The agency is also charged with failing to take every reasonable precaution to protect a worker.

The precautions the TTC allegedly failed to take include “provid(ing) road markings defining the area swept by the tail of turning rail cars” and “provid(ing) a trained and qualified …work car monitor” to ensure a car doesn’t strike workers or equipment.

As the Star reported in May, as part of an investigation into this incident that was still ongoing at the time, ministry investigators found the lighting at the carhouse didn’t meet safety standards. Ministry guidelines stated there should be a minimum lighting level of between 20 and 30 lux, but readings found an average of just 8.3 lux at the site.

The TTC has since painted yellow lines to mark a safe zone around the curved track where Dedes was struck, but there were no such markings in place at the time of the fatal incident, the TTC told the Star in May.

Joanne Dedes, Tom’s sister-in-law, said in an interview the charges bring “some type of closure” to his family as they prepare to mark the one-year anniversary of his death.

“But it won’t bring him back. A life is lost, is lost,” she said.

“But at least hopefully the TTC learns from it to prevent any further deaths.”

In a statement sent Tuesday night, Frank Grimaldi, the president of the largest TTC workers union, said the organization “continues to grieve the loss of Tom Dedes.”

“ATU Local 113 hopes the charges against the TTC will result in necessary workplace improvements so such a tragedy never happens again,” he said, noting that the union “is strongly committed to improving the health and safety conditions of Toronto’s public transit workers.”

In 2008, the Ministry of Labour fined the TTC $200,000 in the death of worker Tony Almeida, who was killed while working with an asbestos abatement crew on the Yonge subway line. A platform on the work train he was driving struck the side of the tunnel, came loose, and crushed his operating cab.

The ministry also investigated the 2012 death of TTC track worker Peter Pavlovksi, who was struck by a rail car near Yorkdale station. The ministry declined to lay charges.

Congratulations Winners! Here are the 2018 John Lorimer Memorial Scholarship Recipients

We are proud to announce the 40 recipients of the 2018 John Lorimer Memorial Scholarship, a program aimed to help university or college bound children of ATU Local 113 members with expenses going towards post-secondary education. The union’s annual commitment to award each recipient with $1,500 demonstrates its initiative to support higher education in our community.

All recipients of the Scholarship are applicants who scored the highest marks in Grade 12, and who are registered for a university or college program for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The Scholarship Committee, comprised of ATU Local 113 Executive Board members, thanks every student who applied for the Scholarship. ATU Local 113 applauds the accomplishments of every single high school graduate pursuing further education.

See the winners’ details below.Applying for 2019 scholarships

If you are in your final year of high school this fall and are a dependent of an ATU Local 113 member in good standing, you’re eligible to apply for the 2019 John Lorimer Memorial Scholarship. Application requirements include submitting a completed application form and an official copy of your Grade 12 transcript.

Application forms and details will be made available here by May 1, 2019. We encourage graduating high school seniors or university students who have previously not received this scholarship to apply.

Donate Now to United Way Greater Toronto

United Way Greater Toronto works closely with communities in Peel, Toronto and the York Region as a non-governmental supporter of social services in the area.

All contributions made to the organization tackles local poverty—your dollars will be hard at work.

To make your individual contribution, click “Donate Now” at the top right corner of the United Way Website.


Unifor Served Two Big Blows

The Canadian labour movement is successful when we work together. That is what makes Unifor’s ongoing efforts to raid other unions so damaging to our movement – it puts the wages, benefits and safety conditions we fought for at risk as they seek to divide us and waste our resources fighting each other.

With no surprise to Sisters and Brothers, Unifor recently faced two big blows regarding their actions to undermine our movement’s progress. Please read below and remember: when we work together, we win.

  1. Public Review Board Rules Against Unifor’s Unilateral Disaffiliation from the Canadian Labour Congress

Rank and File reports that the Unifor National Executive Board was found guilty by the their own Public Review Board of violating their constitution in unilaterally disaffiliating from the Canadian Labour Congress. Unifor Local 222 (Oshawa) filed the appeal.

Read more about Unifor Local 222’s appeal of Unifor’s unilateral disaffiliation from the Canadian Labour Congress in the Rank and File story here.

  1. Ontario Labour Relations Board Rules Against Unifor’s Application for Interim Relief in Raid of UNITE HERE 75 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel

In a recent ruling, the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled against Unifor’s application for interim relief. It was officially dismissed and stifles Unifor’s efforts to raid UNITE HERE Local 75 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

Read the full decision from the Ontario Labour Relations Board on August 7th, 2018.

In the Community: Toronto Caribbean Carnival

Over a million tourists flock to Toronto every summer to celebrate the city’s thriving Caribbean community. When the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, formerly known as Caribana, began in 1967, it was just three days. Now, the festival has grown into North America’s largest with four weeks of events.

On August 4, ATU Local 113 joined the festivities by marching in the carnival’s Grand Parade. Surrounded by colourful costumes and great food, ATU Local 113 Sisters and Brothers played music and danced along the route. Toronto’s transit system knits our city’s many neighborhoods into one of the world’s most vibrant urban areas. It is an important goal of ATU Local 113 to go beyond simply connecting people and places, but also reaching out and staying in touch with those our Sisters and Brothers serve.

Chris Jones in front of ATU Local 113’s Toronto Caribbean Festival float – fitted with drums and sparkles!

Thank you to everyone who participated. See you next year!

Read: Uploading subway system a disaster-in-waiting

Read and share John Lorinc’s article in Spacing Toronto which explores how Premier Doug Ford’s pledge to upload the subway system will deliver administrative chaos, political conflict, and planning gridlock.

It can’t be said too often, or too loudly: Premier Doug Ford’s pledge to upload the subway system will become the Brexit of Toronto politics: a promise balanced on the most dubious of mandates, barely scrutinized during the election (I’m looking at you, Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne) and certain to deliver administrative chaos, political conflict and planning gridlock for years to come.

Indeed, let’s be frank about what’s about to occur: the Progressive Conservative government is preparing to steal (and perhaps eventually flip) a multi-billion municipal asset that’s been heavily funded by Toronto taxpayers and commuters for decades. Ford last week re-confirmed that he would proceed in a response to a milquetoast request for consultation from Mayor John Tory.

Council is meeting today to figure out a legal response to the Tories’ decision to slash the number of wards in the middle of an election. But why the subway upload threat isn’t the topic on everyone’s lips right now is beyond me. Make no mistake: this, and not the size of council, is the move that changes everything. And anyone who doubts that claim should go to New York City and observe the extravagant mess created in a subway system that’s been starved and mis-managed by a neglectful state government.

Given that neither mayoral candidate nor city council has bothered to fill the information void about the implications of a subway upload, here’s a partial list of what will be lurking inside this Pandora’s box:

The Leaking Fare Box

If the province wants to detach one part of a deeply integrated transit network, it will presumably want the subway’s revenues, which means someone is going to have to figure out a formula for allocating fare revenue among the modes – a wicked problem if there ever was one. Just consider this: If you take the bus to a subway station and then finish your journey on a streetcar, which part of your $3.25 fare paid for that middle portion?

(Clarification: The Tories claimed during the election they’d only upload the asset and let the TTC continue operating the subways. As the Toronto Star‘s transportation reporter Ben Spurr pointed out this morning, government officials have made ambiguous statements in the past week about the full extent of what’s envisioned. Transportation minister John Yakabuski said everything was on the table, but a spokesperson later insisted the upload is limited only to the ownership of the assets.)

The TTC in 2017 generated $1.2 billion from fares and the subways carried 230 million passengers. But it’s not clear how to divvy up the revenue, particularly because the TTC’s network of feeder bus and streetcar routes is so crucial to getting bodies onto the subway. What is generally understood is that some portions of the subway are very profitable, and their surpluses help subsidize the rest of the system, including those parts of the subway network that lose money (e.g., Sheppard, parts of Bloor-Danforth, Spadina). Removing it will make the rest of the TTC a lot more expensive to operate.

Now let’s think about the City of Toronto’s $750 million operating grant to the TTC – the second largest line item on the municipal operating budget. What portion of that giant subsidy goes towards supporting subway operations? Again, the answer is not obvious. Yet what seems perfectly evident is that if the province uploads the subway, council’s funding of what remains of the TTC will shrink.

Last point here. Who decides on the formula? Or are we looking at shifting to a system where you pay one fare for the buses and streetcars, and another when you transfer to the subway, as is the case with GO and the TTC now. If the Ford government wants this asset, it will want the revenues . Yet the quantum of those revenues are determined entirely by Toronto council and the TTC (for those with short memories, the Mike Harris government ended provincial operating subsidy to the TTC in 1997). Somehow, the formula will need to be negotiated, and it’s anybody’s guess how those talks will play out.

The Liability Landmine

The TTC’s balance sheet notes that the subway system had a net book value in 2017 of $2.3 billion (i.e., after depreciation). That figure doesn’t include the value of the rolling stock and the tracks. It’s a big, expensive asset, with equally formidable liabilities.

Almost a quarter of the City’s $39 billion ten-year capital budget will be spent on the TTC between now and 2027  (the figure doesn’t include Smart Track). New-build projects like the Scarborough Subway Extension will receive a portion of that total, but 92% of the $39 billion represent outlays for either state-of-good-repair or legislated projects. And according to the TTC’s 2018-2027 capital budget report, $5.2 billion will go to subway expenditures (page 14).

That $5.2 billion is all for the unsexy aspects of owning a subway: signal upgrades, track repairs, new subway cars, etc. This is a long-term financial obligation on the owner of the system. In other words, if the province wants to assume control of the subway, all those mainly debt-funded liabilities – repairs, replacement of aging rolling stock, etc. – come with the package. You don’t get one without the other. In other words, the Ford government is going to have to add at least $5 billion in new debt to its books — a story that likely won’t go down so well in small town Ontario.

Remember, too, that council in the dying days of the Rob Ford administration approved a property tax levy that will raise about $1 billion over 30 years for the construction of the $3.65 billion Scarborough extension. If the province scoops the subway, there’s no reason I can imagine why council would continue collecting that levy. (As an experiment, ask your ward councilor and the mayoral candidates if they’d support continuing with this tax in the event of an upload.) If a post-subway council decides to turn off that funding tap, Doug Ford & Co. will have to find a further $1 billion to bring subway service to the deserving folk of Scarborough — hardly what Ford is aiming to do with the provincial budget.

The Workforce Mess

When you see a TTC employee in a ticket booth, or a cleaner working at a subway station, or an inspector monitoring fare compliance, ask yourself which portion of their time can be attributed to the subway’s operations, the bus network or the streetcars. With senior planning and procurement personnel at the TTC’s head office, one can pose the same question: which aspects of their duties involve the subways, and which have to do with the rest of the system?

Sure, there are TTC employees who only work in the subway system. But there are lots of other TTC staff – both in the bargaining unit and in management – whose responsibilities span all the modes. Which, of course, is a rational, efficient and, frankly, sane way of running an integrated transit system.

Trying to surgically remove the portion involved in operating the subway is like trying to figure out how many vertebrae can be removed from a spine before the whole body collapses under its own weight.

Yet this is what awaits us. Ask anyone in the investment banking/leveraged buy-out world how tough corporate carve-outs are. It’s rarely easy hiving off a portion of a corporation. But in an organization like the TTC, where the service lines are so intertwined, the task will be mind-bogglingly complex.

The excising process, however, will produce much costly and unproductive work for management consultants and HR specialists. Creating two organizations to do the work of one, moreover, means duplication and additional operating expense, not the opposite.

Now think about the labour relations piece: If Ford hopes his hived off subwayco will be non-unionized, he’s delusional. What’s more, thanks to the advocacy of Ford and his late brother, Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals made the TTC an essential service back in 2011. What that policy means is that while the Amalgamated Transit Union (Local 113) can’t strike to protest the provincial upload and the division of the TTC’s bargaining unit, contract negotiations for the new local serving Toronto Subway Co. will certainly end up with an arbitrator, who will impose a contract identicals to the one the TTC now has.

So even if the province intends to merge the subway with GO Transit, the management and payroll costs of running the lines will go up because the economies of scale of an integrated operation are lost.

The Planning Nightmare

Where to begin?

The subway system, for all the obvious reasons, is deeply embedded in the city’s planning mechanisms, from the official plan to secondary plans to local zoning bylaws. A shift in ownership doesn’t change the physical reality of the subway’s presence in and under the city, but it does raise all manner of thorny questions about how the province intends to carry out planning around everything from maintenance-related or emergency subway closures to public consultations for expansions, service level changes, etc.

There are financial reverberations here as well, given that the city allocates a portion of millions collected through development charges (DC) to transit capital outlays (35 and 44% of the levies collected from residential and commercial projects respectively go to the TTC’s capital budget; the city expects to collect a total of $1.34 billion through DCs over the next decade). If the city is no longer responsible for paying for the subway, the building industry will probably want to renegotiate those levies.

Then there are all the problems associated with inter-agency planning, which is where the upload takes us. GO Transit and the TTC have historically had a great deal of difficulty working together, although that’s begun to change. But under this new arrangement, the two levels will have to set up an elaborate system of intergovernmental mechanisms to deal with everything from access to the subway stations to coordinating road closures relating to the construction of new lines.

At the macro level, which is no doubt where Ford’s attention is focused, the province will be able to prioritize new capital projects, presumably to reward specific constituencies. I’d say it’s a given that the Relief Line will be sent to the back of the queue indefinitely while new subways out to Richmond Hill and other remote locales will be prioritized. Such moves, as many critics have warned for years, will eventually cause the system to become critically over-crowded, unsafe and unusable. The best one can say about that scenario is that the Tories will have no one to blame but themselves. They broke it, so they’ll own it. However, the city, its residents and its businesses will pay dearly in the long run.

So What Now?

There’s little doubt Queen’s Park has the jurisdictional authority to upload the subway. But when it does, it will also have to take on the billions of dollars in financial responsibilities associated with the care and feeding of one of the largest pieces of transportation infrastructure in the province. Like a contaminated piece of brownfield land, the future cost of cleaning it up travels with the title. (To choose another analogy, the upload will be the inverse of the Harris government’s move to download Ontario’s social housing complexes, with their extravagantly costly repair bills, on the city back in the late 1990s.)

So what now?

Although the legislature has risen from its dizzying special summer session, it would hardly be surprising to discover that Ford — who has displayed an increasingly unhealthy instinct to meddle in the business of Toronto council — intends to fast-track the subway upload and ram a law through during the miasma of the municipal election season.

But until the legislature resumes sitting, Toronto politicians have a very short window of opportunity, during which they can frame this move in the way it desperately needs to be framed. Sooner or later, Ford will fill the void with misinformation – all the usual blather about finding efficiencies and involving the private sector.

For municipal officials to sit back and wait for that to happen would be a critical, city-altering mistake. City officials know just what a mess the upload will create, and they are in a position to quantify to residents – in Toronto and beyond – the full financial implications, for both the province and the city.

Mostly, I want to hear what John Tory and Jennifer Keesmaat have to say. Given what’s at stake, their messages should be a lot more robust than delicately asking to be consulted. Will they demand financial compensation for Toronto taxpayers who’ve invested in this asset for years? Threaten legal action? Rally residents? Take to the airwaves? And are they prepared to make it abundantly clear to Ford that his Tories will feel the political blowback in Toronto’s 25 ridings for years to come if he proceeds?

I am hoping the answer is yes to all of the above. After all, this development will occur on the watch of one of the two individuals running for the city’s highest office. Certainly, I know if it were me, I wouldn’t want to go down in Toronto history as the mayor who lost the subway.