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It's a Strike! (Update - Strike Over)


A wildcat strike has shut down TTC services this morning. Workers have walked off the job in an action linked to concerns about drivers’ safety, but also linked to the management’s decision to move 53 janitorial and maintenance staff permanently to the night shift. The Toronto Star has full details

This job action is not legal, and it was called after indications late Sunday night that no job action was planned. Commuters and TTC officials have been caught by surprise, and a number of people may be stranded today. It will be up to Torontonians to be patient and creative in finding other ways to get where they need to go. GO Transit continues to operate, so that may be an alternative for some. Emergency car pooling may also be a possibility, but for some it may be wise to try to work from home today, or to take the day off, and hope that this job action comes to a quick close.

(Update: 7:52): As TTC workers are in violation of their collective agreement with this job action, the Ontario Labour Board has issued a “cease and desist” order, requiring the employees to return to work. This is only a first step, however, and it is unclear what other steps will have to be taken, or what teeth be provided to the “case and desist” order in order to bring this job action to a close.

Union president Bob Kinnear has countered that this strike isn’t a strike at all, but a lockout. According to him, “They locked the gates and indicated that there would be no service long before our operators had an opprtunity to report to work,”

The best phrase to describe this situation could be mass transit confusion. We extend our sympathies to commuters who are struggling to get to work on this Monday morning, and we hope for a quick resolution. There is every possibility that service may be back in time for the afternoon rush hour. We will keep you posted.

(Update: 10:00): Although transit service still has not resumed, and employees appear to be waiting for a call from the union before they respond, TTC GM Rick Ducharme is hopeful that workers can return to work soon enough to manage the afternoon rush hour. Sources say that it takes three hours to restore the TTC to full service, however, so movement should happen soon if service is to be back to normal by the afternoon rush hour.

(Update: Noon): Hearings being convened at the Ontario Labour Board offices to try and resolve this strike are delayed as union representatives are late in arriving, but hearings are expected to start at 12:30. This may be too late to resume TTC service in time for the afternoon rush hour. Fortunately, one hopes that commuters who were caught by surprise this morning have had enough time to make alternate arrangements.

(Update: 14:41): The Ontario Labour Board has formally ruled that the job action by workers of the ATU 113 local is illegal and has required all TTC workers to return to work. What movement has occurred to that end has been slow, and it is unlikely that full service will resume in time for the afternoon rush hour, although this should mean that full and regular service will operate tonight and tomorrow.

The claims by ATU local president Bob Kinnear that this action was a lockout was disputed by the ATU’s own website which listed the walkout as a “job action” — at least until the page was pulled after the Toronto Star helpfully liked to it. There has been a considerable backlash against the union for this illegal action.

It should be noted that contact information for ATU Local 113 is publicly available here.

(Update: 14:48): It has been announced that the strike is over, and the TTC is working to restore full service as soon as possible.

(Update: 16:21): The Toronto Star is reporting that service is resuming and that the Bloor-Danforth subway will be back online at 5 p.m. The Yonge-University-Spadina line will follow shortly thereafter.

(Update: 18:07): The Star is reporting that most buses and streetcars are finally on the roads, but subway trains are still standing idle, with some reports saying that service may not resume until 7 p.m. for the Bloor-Danforth line. TTC Transit Control is blaming pickets that are still up at Wilson Carhouse for continued delays on the Yonge-University-Spadina line, but there is no explanation for the delays to the resumption of service on the Bloor-Danforth line.

(Update: 19:39): Service resumed on the Bloor-Danforth subway line at 6:30 p.m. Service is expected to resume on the Yonge-University-Spadina line between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., now that pickets that kept Wilson Garage closed were finally removed as of 7:30 p.m.

About the only good news that we have to report this day, other than the fact that service is finally resuming, is that service should be back to normal by tonight, and there should be no disruptions of service for commuters tomorrow.

Mayor Miller has noted that fines and other discipliniary action may be possible as a result of the union’s illegal strike, and its defiance of the Ontario Labour Board’s initial cease and desist order, but it may be a little while before we know what sort of measures might be taken against the union leadership, and it probably depends on how vocal commuters are in their remembrance of this day.

On the other hand, the blogger Transit Rider has sensible advice when he asks that commuters don’t take out their frustrations on individual bus and streetcar drivers, who have little immediate influence on their union’s actions.

as I understand it, the employees that drive the buses are caught in the middle between a managment/union dispute. That said, I do not want any of you taking out your frustrations on operators when they go back to work. They’re caught in the middle and for the most part, quite a few of them are very unhappy with not being able to go to work today and move you and others around the city. I would like to seriously advise each and every transit rider reading this to please not take out your frustrations on a bus operator when they go back to work. They don’t want to be out on strike or locked out or whatever. (link).

It has been a hot day, both physically and metaphorically. What is needed now is for cooler heads to prevail everywhere.

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