Transit union says no strike, this week

The TTC’s Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 will not pursue strike action this week despite their frustrations with the bargaining process. It seems they also will not get the negotiator they wanted.

At a press conference on Thursday ATU 113 president Bob Kinnear broke the suspense about whether the union, which represents TTC drivers, operators and maintenance workers, would give the ominous 48-hour strike notice which they promised.

He stated, however, that the union was sufficiently impatient with the pace of negotiations to publicly air their frustrations Gary Webster, chief general manager of the TTC.

Kinnear asked TTC chair Adam Giambrone to take over negotiations.

“We do not believe we will get an agreement as long as Gary Webster is making the decisions,” Kinnear said.

Kinnear unfavorably compared Webster’s steep salary increase against those of TTC workers and described Webster’s bargaining style as one rooted in the bravado of new management.

“But there’s a difference between being tough and just plain unreasonable,” Kinnear said.

Giambrone quickly broke the suspense about stepping in as chief deal maker. The councillor told CBC reporters barely an hour after the conference that he would not go to the table.

Kinner did not make Giambrone’s participation a deal-breaker, calling his request “a constructive suggestion.”

He named sticking points, however, that could result in labour action.

ATU 113, said Kinnear, will not budge on wage-related concessions the TTC is requesting as conditions to deliver a top-up in benefits for sick or injured workers from 75 per cent of their regular pay to 100 per cent.

The TTC, Kinnear claimed, expects workers to forgo job evaluations, a necessary preliminary to wage increases. The union bargained hard for evaluations six years ago, Kinnear said, and will not give them up.

“No one else in this city has been asked to give up any job evaluation-related increases,” Kinnear said, “so why should we?”

Another concession would roll back the wages of newly hired maintenance workers by 25 per cent, a demand which Kinnear described as “breathtaking in its audacity.

“That alone,” he said, “is a strike issue.”

Kinnear says a 100 per cent injury benefit is reasonable because of daily risks that TTC workers are exposed to. He referred to workplace safety problems and attacks on drivers recently disclosed in the press.

“We went public a couple of weeks ago with the issue of operators being criminally assaulted, our maintenance workers working in very dangerous situations and being injured,” he said. “We’ve suggested that there should be no financial penalty.”

Kinnear said ATU 113 will review its position on a strike early next week.