The head of the union representing the city’s transit workers says there’s a “stress problem” inside the London Transit Commission (LTC).
John Smith, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union local 741, said he was elected to his role based on his commitment to addressing working conditions at the LTC and a “heavy-handed approach” by management. He took over the job at the start of the year.
“I go into a lot of meetings with our members and management where our members are crying,” he said.
“If you’re being cursed at, yelled at, threatened, and this goes on for five minutes and somewhere in there you might roll your eyes because you’re fed up of taking this, they say ‘yeah maybe that wasn’t right that happened to you, don’t roll your eyes.'”
Smith says union members will do 99 things right, but one minor mistake will be criticized.
“That’s disrespectful to our members, for what job they’re doing.”
Bill Leetjes, a current LTC employee, went public last week with allegations of harassment and discrimination. He said he didn’t get the help he asked for when he called into dispatch about a problematic passenger. He said he was assaulted by the passenger and then he didn’t get the workplace accommodations he needed to deal with the resulting stress and anxiety.
He said he’s disappointed that Kelly Paleczny, the Commission’s general manager, is standing by harassment reporting policies she claims are “robust.”
“Kelly says there’s no problem at London Transit. Well, quite obviously, there is,” said Leetjes.
Since coming out with his story, Leetjes said he’s felt a shift in the attitude of his co-workers. Those who used to tell him it was a hopeless case are now “smiling again, they feel like they have a future.”
“I knew I was in the right, I’ve never doubted that,” Leetjes explained.
Meanwhile, Smith said he’s already had meetings to address issues of bullying, harassment, and discrimination that have come to light.
“I believe the union has to show the employer where the line is, and that’s what I intend to do. We’ve passed that line.”
General manager Kelly Paleczny spoke with 980 CFPL’s The Craig Needles Show last week, but messages left with the LTC Wednesday have not been returned.