TTC strike avoided after last minute deal reached with union

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TTC strike averted with tentative agreement
WATCH: TTC strike averted with tentative agreement – Jun 7, 2024

A last-minute deal between the TTC and the union representing almost 12,000 transit workers has been reached, avoiding a crippling shutdown of buses, streetcars and subways.

TTC service is running as normal in Toronto on Friday.

“I am extremely pleased that we’ve been able to reach a tentative framework settlement with ATU Local 113, and avoid any job action and service disruptions,” said TTC CEO Rick Leary.

“This is a fair deal that is affordable for the TTC and respectful of the important work the 11,500 members of ATU Local 113 do every day to keep our system safe and our service reliable.”

Leary said as the deal still needs to be ratified by union members, and approved by the TTC board, they would not be sharing details about the deal.

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Meanwhile, ATU Local 113 said it reached a “framework settlement with the TTC that allows us to put the strike on hold.”

“We will continue to work through details and to arrive at a fair and reasonable contract that we can recommend to our members to ratify,” the union said. “Our demands have been reasonable. We asked the TTC for assurance on job security, for protections on contracting out our jobs, for improvement in benefits for active members and pensioners.”

ATU Local 113 president Marvin Alfred said he was”absolutely confident” the deal would be endorsed.

Talks between the city and the Amalgamated Transit Union continued late into the night as the 12:01 a.m. deadline approached on Friday, with travellers and union members waiting to find out if the strike would come.

No deal would have meant TTC workers taking part in the first strike since 2008, leaving commuters in the country’s most populous city stranded when they headed to work.

Instead, an agreement between the two sides was reached with time rapidly running out and many already investigating alternative plans.

Leary said the TTC had received a call from the union at around 11:30 p.m. Thursday indicating they had reached a tentative agreement.

“This is a good deal for the city, and our hard working employees,” Leary told reporters in late-night news conference.

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“We still have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s,” Leary continued. “As you can imagine, there’s a lot of wording that has to be confirmed. But that’s a normal process when it comes to bargaining and negotiating. Over the coming weeks, we will do that.”

Click to play video: 'TTC strike avoided after last minute deal reached with union'
TTC strike avoided after last minute deal reached with union

At a late-night press conference, ATU president Alfred called out the TTC for taking so long to reach a deal due to their “bargaining strategy and how they go about doing business.”

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“Frustration. There is a culture here where we have a problem with an employer that stands in the way of progress at times,” Alfred said, adding “we do not have a deal at this time, we have a framework.”

Alfred said the details “need to be ironed out” and “polished.” A timeline on that and when the agreement will be presented to their members to be voted on will be released in the coming days, he said.

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Thursday night was filled with messages from both the union and the TTC.

At around 5:30 p.m., the union issued a fiery statement and claimed “no progress” had been made in talks, threatening its workers would walk off the job in mere hours.

It was not long after that union officials were softening their stance to suggest “some progress” had been made, while the TTC continually briefed it was “optimistic” a deal could be reached.

The power of the union’s strike threat was apparent in the last hours of negotiations, Alfred said.

“At the end, it truly showed itself, that leverage,” he said.

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In the runup to the deadline, the union had outlined some of the issues it felt were causing talks to falter.

Alfred said the issues went beyond wages, listing job security, benefits and “the integrity” of the TTC network among what was at stake.

The union also said it wanted protections against contracting jobs out to third parties and from cross-boundary service getting handed over to other Greater Toronto Area transit operators.

Click to play video: 'TTC union says strike talks at ‘impasse’ as strike deadline looms'
TTC union says strike talks at ‘impasse’ as strike deadline looms

Negotiations took place behind closed doors throughout the evening, with brief statements the only insight for the watching and waiting public.

TTC workers in Toronto had been without the right to strike for more than a decade since a 2011 law was introduced designating them as an essential service.

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A 2023 court decision — backed up by an appeal court in May — threw out that law and gave TTC workers back their right to strike. In the run-up to Friday’s deadline, the union had said staff were setting up practice pickets to familiarize themselves again with going on strike.

Roughly 1.3 million people use Toronto’s transit system every weekday.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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