ATU Local 113 Fighting for Members in the Media

The Amalgamated Transit Union [Local 113] spoke up for their people as is the duty and the responsibility of unions to do and its our responsibility to listen… We our very grateful for [TTC workers]. We’re trying to do everything we can [for their health and safety], including times when we maybe have to be urged to do so by the Union but that’s what its all about. They speak and we listen” 

– Toronto Mayor John Tory 

Since before the threat of the coronavirus appeared in Toronto, ATU Local 113 has made sure the TTC and political leaders are aware of the concerns of public transit workers. You will find below a collection of top news stories with President Carlos Santos’ media interviews and statements on worker protections.  

CBC Toronto: TTC subway operator tests positive for COVID-19, union says
“As we provide a critical service for our city during this pandemic, including for health care workers, ATU Local 113 continues to push the TTC and Toronto Public Health to do whatever is necessary to ensure a safe and healthy environment for TTC workers and riders,”
Reach (# of people): 450,000

Toronto Sun: TTC changes protocol for bus passengers
“We need to do everything we can to protect dedicated TTC bus operators who are serving the public each day during this coronavirus pandemic,” Carlos Santos said. “These extra measures for bus operators will make our members feel more secure while transporting nurses, doctors, paramedics, police officers, firefighters and grocery clerks to work so they can continue providing the essential services Toronto depends on.”
Reach (# of people): 368,000 

Toronto Star: TTC to stop accepting cash, tickets, tokens on buses
“It’s one added level of security and it’s one less thing they now have to worry about,” said Carlos Santos. He said he wished the TTC had made the changes sooner, “but at least it’s been done.”
Reach (# of people): 1,349,000 

Toronto Star: TTC lifts ban on worker face masks, allows all-door boarding on buses to enhance social distancing
Carlos Santos called the agency dropping its opposition to masks a “big victory.” He added, “and at the end of the day, whether it stops them from getting it or it doesn’t, at least they now have one less thing to worry about when they go out and do their job.”
Reach (# of people): 1,349,000

Global News: Coronavirus: TTC allowing workers to wear face masks, riders can board at all vehicle doors
“While we wish the TTC would have moved sooner on this, we appreciate the policy change to provide workers the choice to wear protective masks on the job,” Carlos Santos said in a statement.
Reach (# of people): 800,000

The Globe and Mail: Coronavirus concerns prompt TTC disruption as handful of workers refuse to work
Carlos Santos said in a statement that the refusal was “based on maintaining reasonable precautions” to protect workers. “The work refusal allowed for stronger standards for workers’ health and safety,” he said. 
Reach (# of people): 1,403,000

Daily Hive: Toronto transit union to support workers wearing face masks as coronavirus spreads
“The TTC should focus less on public perception and more on public health,” the union’s statement said. “Transit workers have the right to protect their health in the same way countless TTC riders do by wearing masks on subways, streetcars, and buses.” 

“Until COVID-19 is contained, the TTC and public health officials need to do everything they can to protect TTC workers and riders,” Carlos Santos said in a statement on Friday.
Reach (# of people): 630,000

BlogTO: TTC workers want to start wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus
“ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos is calling on the TTC to allow workers to protect themselves by wearing masks on the job,” reads a statement from union. “The TTC should focus less on public perception and more on public health.”
Reach (# of people): 735,000

Toronto Sun: ‘PERCEPTION INSTEAD OF PROTECTION’: Transit unions want members to be allowed to wear masks on the job
The union representing TTC and Metrolinx workers “will back members 110%” if they wish to wear face masks as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rises.  

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 said the transit authorities are more concerned with “perception instead of protection” when it comes to not allowing workers to wear masks on the job.
Reach (# of people): 368,000

The Globe and Mail: Toronto’s transit unions demand better health precautions as coronavirus spreads
“I have put out a statement to our members saying: If you feel it’s a safety issue and you feel you have to wear a mask, the union will back you 110 per cent,” said Carlos Santos.
Reach (# of people): 1,403,000

Toronto Star: Transit, other public sector unions grapple with coronavirus protocols
The message, which was signed by Local 113 President Carlos Santos, assured members that “if you feel it is in your health interest to wear a mask on the job, the union will support you.” 

“We fully support our members’ right to protect themselves, their families, and their customers,” the message said.
Reach (# of people): 1,349,000

Toronto Says No to TTC Plan to Eliminate Subway Guard: New Poll

TTC risking passenger safety to save no more than three cents a ride, says union

ATU Local 113 is expressing serious concerns with the TTC’s proposed plan to eliminate one of the two crew members on subway trains. These positions play a critical role in ensuring both passenger and worker safety. Through Local 113’ advocacy and recent polling, the media and broader public are taking notice.

In a new poll commissioned by ATU Local 113, two thirds of all Torontonians disapprove of TTC management’s plan to reduce subway crews by eliminating the subway guard position. Close to six in 10 say it is “extremely/very important” that Torontonians agree with any plan to reduce crew sizes, while more than eight in 10 Torontonians (84 per cent) want meaningful public input into TTC safety planning.

The full Mainstreet Research poll can be read here.

TTC plans to eliminate subway guard or second crew person despite their important safety role

The TTC’s plan, to be implemented on Line 1 Yonge-University in 2022, will eliminate the subway guard who performs a wide range of safety-related functions while the operator drives the train.

The TTC acknowledges that it is planning to phase out the guards but has downplayed the impact this has on public safety.

However, ATU Local 113 notes that in addition to ensuring riders enter and exit the train safely, the guard provides a crucial set of eyes scanning the platform, watching for people being harassed or attacked, for lost children, for people with mobility issues or for distressed individuals who appear suicidal.

Guards have intervened to stop the train in cases where a passenger has fallen into the gap between the subway and the platform and is in danger of serious injury. Guard interventions have also rescued passengers from assaults by ensuring police are called to the scene. In the case of medical emergencies – on the platform or inside a moving train – guards are first responders.

Some passengers choose to ride in the back car where the guard is located since the presence of the guard helps deter aggressive or unruly behaviour. Perhaps most importantly, guards are trained to lead an emergency evacuation of passengers through a darkened tunnel where there is a live third rail, in the event a train is stranded due to a fire, a power outage or other threat to public safety.

In December 2019, passengers were forced to evacuate a TTC train when a fire broke out inside the tunnel near Dundas West station.

“The emergency underground subway evacuation near Dundas West station is an important reminder that having just one worker onboard a subway train – often crammed with hundreds of riders – is unsafe for the public,” said Carlos Santos, President of ATU Local 113. “The TTC must prioritize safety over cost cutting.”

One-person crews have been in operation since 2016 on the less-travelled Line 4 Sheppard Line – and the results raise serious safety concerns. There has been a significant increase in red light violations by train operators – not surprising since these operators are responsible for not just driving the train but also opening and closing the doors while carrying out all other duties related to passenger safety.

Red light violations are extremely dangerous. They occur when a train fails to stop at a red light signal, proceeding despite the presence of something or someone on the track.

When the TTC introduced one-person crews on the Line 4 Sheppard line, it did not alert the public to the change, nor address possible safety concerns.

On the contrary, the TTC has argued that eliminating the guard will improve safety by reducing injuries to guards from opening and shutting the train window in order to observe the platform. The union denies that this has been an issue.

The TTC also appears to be trying to save money. But an analysis done by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that eliminating the guard on Line 1 Yonge-University would save only about three cents a ride – perhaps less when weighed against the cost of adding more station managers.

The union notes that station managers will be unable to respond as quickly and effectively as guards located right on the trains and will likely lead not just to compromised safety but to additional train slowdowns.

Thanks to ATU Local 113’s public poll and advocacy work, Toronto media have been covering this issue. Please see a summary of coverage below:

CityNews: Majority of Torontonians say no to TTC plan to remove subway guards: poll

The Globe and Mail: Automation will mean the end of an unusual, but effective, safety practice on the TTC’s Yonge line

680News: Majority of Torontonians say no to TTC plan to remove subway guards: poll

The Left Chapter: TTC plans to eliminate the subway guard and when people hear about it they are not happy

Newswire: Toronto Says No to TTC Plan to Eliminate Subway Guard: New Poll

Managing Mental Health and Well-Being

ATU Local 113 is committed to providing all workers with access to emotional and crisis support services to promote employee well-being and a healthy workplace. Mental health and well-being are just as important as physical health and safety. To assist employees who are looking for help, the following list of services and providers available for workers can be reviewed below.





Every year on World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) works to bring the community together to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention activities. CASP provides resources and materials to help spread the word about suicide prevention, life promotion, and working together to prevent suicide.

For more information:

Phone: (613)702-4446





For decades, Spectra Helpline (Peel) and Distress Centres (Toronto) have individually championed and executed the aligned missions of ensuring every individual in need of emotional support or crisis intervention has access to life-sustaining care delivered by highly trained volunteers supported by professional staff.

For more information:

Phone: 289-569-1200









Since 1967, Distress Centres has provided 24-hour support for all 365 days in a year to at-risk or most vulnerable individuals in the community. Distress Centres is also Canada’s oldest volunteer-delivered crisis, emotional support and suicide prevention + intervention + postvention service agency.

For more information:

Phone: 416- 408-HELP (4357)





Funded by the Government of Ontario, ConnexOntario provides free and confidential information on health services for people experiencing problems with alcohol, drugs, mental illness and/or gambling.

For more information:

Phone: 1-866-531-2600





Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres take on a holistic approach to addiction and mental health treatment. Trafalgar is one of very few treatment centers in Canada that treat addiction in conjunction with underlying mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, trauma and PTSD.

For more information:

Phone: +1 855-972-9760








For over 30 years, the Assaulted Women’s Helpline serves as a free, anonymous and confidential 24-hour telephone and TTY crisis telephone line for all women in Ontario who experience any form of abuse.

For more information:

Phone: 416-863-0511

TTY Line: 1-866-863-7868

ATU Local 113 Marches to Keep Transit Public at 2019 Labour Day Parade

ATU Local 113 Sisters and Brothers marched in the 2019 Labour Day parade to celebrate the achievements of the Canadian Labour movement and recommit themselves to the ongoing fight for workers’ rights. With so much at stake with Premier Ford and his anti-labour PC Government, ATU Local 113 joined together with riders, transit advocates, politicians and other unions to share a clear message along the route, and to the many more following along on social media and in the news: Keep Transit Public.

To mark the 125 celebration of Labour Day, this year’s parade theme was, “Educate, Organize, Resist!” This is particularly meaningful for ATU Local 113 Sisters and Brothers who work every day to explain the risks of Premier Ford’s so-called subway upload to riders, inspiring them to get involved in their communities. Ripping apart the subway from the rest of the TTC will mean destroying its integrative nature, while putting it on a slippery slope to privatization – just look at GO Transit! Privatized transit means higher fares and reduced service, at a time when Toronto’s public transit system needs increased funding as it receives some of the lowest government operating subsidies in North America.

On the route, President Carlos Santos joined CP24 live to recognize the hard work of Toronto’s nearly 12,000 public transit workers. “We do everything, we are like a city in itself,” he said. “More than ever, [this year] is an important parade for us… Doug Ford has promised to deliver a subway upload and we are against it. We don’t believe it’s the best thing for the City of Toronto.”


President Carlos Santos also called on Premier Ford to come to the table in good faith to hear from public transit workers. So far he has refused calls from the ATU Local 113 leadership to discuss our shared vision for an improved and expanded transit system.

ATU Local 113 Executive Vice President Richard Fox, President Carlos Santos, and Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Morton march in the 2019 Labour Day parade.

Before the parade began at 9:30 a.m., Sisters and Brothers gathered early in the morning at the Sheraton Hotel across from Toronto City Hall to talk about the importance of an organized labour movement, and pick up their ATU Local 113-branded gear that shows the public that the Local speaks with one strong voice.

ATU Local 113 Organizer Deborah Littman discusses the Keep Transit Public pledge at the Sheraton Hotel.
ATU Local 113 Sisters lead with the contingent with the ‘Keep Transit Public’ banner.

Labour Day is also when Toronto bid farewell to the last two Articulated Light Rail Vehicles (ALRVS), locally nicknamed as “bendy” streetcars. Introduced into service in 1988, these streetcars have been in operation for more than 30 years. Shortly after the parade, some ATU Local 113 members, retirees and fortunate transit enthusiasts were able to catch one last ride along Queen Street.

Excited riders wave hello at the start of the parade.

Thank you to all members who joined the parade this year, and take the time to engage on the important issues that ATU Local 113 – and more largely, the city – face today. Keep Transit Public!

Hundreds of ATU Local 113 members march from Queen and University Streets to the CNE’s Dufferin Gates.

ATU Local 113 Supporting Communities: Battle 416 and Protecting Toronto’s Public Transit System

This weekend at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, ATU Local 113 proudly supported Battle 416, a community festival and tournament that promotes diversity and competitive street culture through celebrating the city’s local basketball talent. Battle 416 is connected to the Mabuhay Philippines Festival, the largest celebration of Philippine heritage culture in Canada. At a booth, Sisters and Brothers explained to the public the importance of protecting Toronto’s public transit systems – and the risks it faces today.

Throughout the two-day tournament, elite men’s, women’s, and youth teams battled it out on the 5-on-5 outdoor full court experience. Keep Transit Public and ATU Local 113 represented members through their two teams, with the Keep Transit Public team even making it to finals. Congratulations to all the players!

ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos with members who competed in the tournament.
The large Battle 416 crowd at Nathan Phillips Square.

On and off the court, ATU Local 113 members were clear: for the sake of our communities, we must protect the public transit system from privatization. This comes as part of continued advocacy for an affordable and fair system that serves the entire city. Bus operator Ryan Gonzalez was featured in the Battle 416 program sharing more of his personal story, and why public transit is essential to moving Toronto forward.

Battle 416_Gonzalez_PDF


ATU Local 113 members who competed in the tournament.

The festival included a Slam Dunk Battle, 3-Point Competition, tons of great food, and live entertainment. A separate Charity Celebrity Game – which ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos took part in – raised funds for SickKids.

A player lines up a dunk as spectators and other players look on. 

ATU Local 113 looks forward to another successful year of Battle 416! Thank you to all those that made it possible.

ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos presenting Battle 416 with a sponsorship.

READ: Toronto family serves up lemonade to TTC driver and customers

Simple acts of kindness can go a long way. Read the full story on how Brother Jason Dick went above and beyond for his passengers on the 38 Highland Creek Route, published by Nick Westoll of Global News.

Toronto family serves up lemonade to TTC driver and customers

An act of kindness captured on camera by a Toronto Transit Commission employee at a lemonade stand in Scarborough is getting some positive attention online.

Andrea Sears posted a photo on Facebook of TTC driver Jason Dick pulled over at the side of the road on Sunday.

“Walking home from the park and see (sic) the TTC bus driver stop at the lemonaid (sic) / cookie stand and buy several cookies and hand them out to his passengers. It made my day,” she wrote.

Nathalie Sinson told Global News her seven-year-old son asked her for two years to setup a lemonade stand in front of their home.

“For once I bought him the big container and I said, ‘OK, let’s do it, let’s sell it in front of our house … it was a really last minute thing,” she said.

“I have four kids so they all helped me prepare the cookies even my mom was there and she helped me prepare the cookies.”

Dick, a seven-year TTC employee who has driven out in Scarborough, said he saw the stand — complete with signs and balloons — during his second run of the 38 Highland Creek route that day.

“I thought to myself, ‘Gee, I remember doing that and I remember not being terribly successful at it and I thought it would be a nice thrill for these kids if I could just take a moment and pull over and buy some lemonade (and) got some cookies,” he told Global News.

So throughout his shift, Dick ended up stopping at the stand four times. He said he personally had two cookies and a glass of lemonade, calling the items “fantastic.” But Dick also shared treats with his passengers.

“I‘d stop and I’d say, ‘Hey guys, there’s a lemonade stand setup over here and some cookies and if anybody would like to take a moment and support these kids and buy some refreshments, we’ll wait. A few times passengers either didn’t have cash on them or a few people had to get going and we respect that, and we got going again,” he recalled.

“But then I’d say the last two trips were really remarkable because passengers were excited to go over and help out. There was one young couple who got off and scooted on over and got cookies and drinks and they came back just hands full.”

Sinson said another TTC driver stopped by the stand on the same day. She noted a couple of the passengers came back to buy items. Sinson said the simple gesture by Dick and his colleague left a lasting impression on her young family.

“They (her children) all felt really cool. They did not show any sign of coolness when people were in front of them because they are so shy. But when [the TTC drivers] were driving by, they felt, ‘Woo, the bus is stopping,” she said.

“We’re all human, we have jobs, we work hard and it’s OK to stop, smell the roses, pick up a cookie, drink some lemonade.”

Sinson said the proceeds were split between the four children and the money was put in each of their ‘piggy banks.’ In addition to showing kindness and attention, she said she hopes her children learned other lessons.

“Entrepreneurship, being independent, being good in front of people, not shy and knowing how to do what they love,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dick said the interactions with Sinson, her children, and his passengers simply made his day.

“I made it a point to just to because every time there were smiles on the faces. Every time it was just such a welcome feeling. I could have stopped and sat there and talked for hours, but clearly I had to keep going. I can’t say I’ve ever met such a genuine or nice family,” he said.

“If you see children out selling lemonade and cookies, please run and get some cash and stop — it doesn’t hurt. A small act of kindness can really brighten somebody else’s day and I think it’s just exactly what the world needs and what we as a city need – just more positive.”

Tailgate for Public Transit

ATU Local 113 Sisters and Brothers are encouraged to join TTCriders this Thursday for a tailgate party dedicated to protecting our public transit system. Our members know firsthand all that’s at risk with Premier Ford’s failed vision for transit in Toronto, that is why is more important than ever to join together in Etobicoke — Lakeshore. The PC government plan means scrapping projects like the Waterfront LRT while cutting a scheduled gas tax increase – $1.1 billion now gone that was already allocated by Mayor John Tory for the State of Good Repair for the system.

When: Thursday, August 15 at 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Where: 195 Norseman Street, Etobicoke (meet at the parking lot outside of MPP Christine Hogarth’s office)
Cost: Free
Details: Enjoy hot dogs and drinks over transit talks with community members and fellow ATU Local 113 members. RSVP here.

Toronto’s Public Transit Workers Reject TTC Subway Air Quality Study Findings, Demand Immediate Action

Toronto’s public transit unions, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 and Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2, reject the findings of the 2019 TTC Subway Air Quality Report put forward by TTC Chief Safety Officer John O’Grady on July 10. The unions’ nearly 12,000 operations and maintenance workers demand immediate action to protect the health and safety of their workers and the public by undertaking further research on fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), creating parameters to reduce exposure to all known pollutants and permitting the use of face masks until a permanent solution is in place.

In 2017, the TTC received significant media attention as a result of a Health Canada study conducted on air quality in the Toronto subway system among other major Canadian city transit systems. The air quality report indicated that Toronto Subways had the worst air quality and highest levels of Particulate Matter 2.5- leaving air quality comparable to a typical day in smoggy Beijing, China.

Fine Particulate Matter (PM 2.5)

The TTC is aware of the significance of PM 2.5 stating on their own website that, “small particles are inhaled into the lungs. According to the World Health Organization, health effects of inhaling pollutants can aggravate of asthma and irritate eyes, nose and throat. PM 2.5 can be associated with an increased risk of heart and respiratory diseases, lung cancer and reduced lung function.”

Research has also indicated that exposure to particulate air pollution is associated with cardiovascular and respiratory health effects like heart disease, strokes, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Efforts should be made to reduce exposure to particulates to the lowest levels that are reasonably achievable.

Despite this research indicating that efforts should be made to reduce exposure to particulates to the lowest level, the TTC denies some of their workers the right to wear a simple face mask while working in the subway area. The TTC says only workers in one specific section need to wear a respirator due to exposure to air pollutants. What about the other hundreds of workers who want to reduce their exposure to subway air pollution?  Why are they not allowed to wear a simple face mask? A face mask is the easiest way to limit exposure.

TTC Media Release

“Pollutant levels in subway system are within occupational exposure limits: TTC study”

What the TTC is not saying is that occupational exposure limits do not address the cumulative effect of these pollutants, and do not address PM 2.5.

There is also no mention of the exposure to the Public, which was the focus of the 2017 Health Canada study comparing TTC air quality to Beijing, China.

Demanding Immediate Action

ATU Local 113 and CUPE Local 2 call on the TTC to work with its public transit workers to make real change to subway air quality, instead of continuing to ignore growing concerns. That includes proactively addressing air quality on the public transit system by undertaking research on fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), creating parameters to reduce exposure to all known pollutants and permitting the use of face masks until a permanent solution is in place.

ATU Local 113 Statement on the Ontario Line Initial Business Case

Today, President of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 Carlos Santos released the following statement regarding the recently released Initial Business Case for the Ontario Line.

“After months of secrecy, Premier Doug Ford finally released more details on his proposed ‘Ontario Line’, and to no surprise to Torontonians, it will result in more delays with expanding our public transit system. The Ford Government is set to rip up shovel-ready plans for the Downtown Relief Line for a new fancy map with no feasible plan to meet its unrealistic deadlines. Torontonians deserve an improved and expanded public transit system, but the proposed ‘Ontario Line’ looks to be the next casualty of the Conservative legacy of transit chaos: changing course mid-way just to bring us back to square one.

ATU Local 113 will never stop advocating for an affordable and equitable public transit system, and to get there, Premier Doug Ford should stop meddling in our city’s transit planning. If the Premier really wants to improve Toronto’s public transit system: get the Relief Line, Waterfront and Eglinton East LRT built; reinstate fare subsidies between the TTC, GO Transit and the UP Express that integrate our system; fix the failed PRESTO system that is costing Torontonians millions in lost fares; and increase operating funding to meet current demand.”

Team Arrow Road Polishes the Diamond, Becomes 2019 Baseball Champions

For over a decade, Sisters and Brothers look forward to the annual baseball championship organized by the Recreation Council. This year, ATU Local 113 congratulates all 21 teams that took to the diamond, with a special nod to the grand winners: Team Arrow Road.

It’s activities like this that bring us together, and it couldn’t have been possible without all the enthusiastic players and volunteers.  Thank you for your participation and hard work – and take a look at some photos from the competition below.

Team Arrow Road celebrates the big win, trophy in hand.
Team Arrow Road takes a group photo.