TTC union’s no-strike vow recalls unfortunate history

TTC Union boss Bob Kinnear, who was awesome in As Good as it Gets, made a big show last week, making a public declaration that the TTC would not strike at any time during their upcoming contract negotiations. The current labour contract expires March 31.

Adrian Morrow:

In a bid to encourage the province to hold off on designating the TTC an essential service, the union representing transit workers vowed not to strike during upcoming contract negotiations.

At a news conference Thursday, Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, called for Queen’s Park to hold more extensive public consultations before making a decision.

via TTC union vows not to disrupt service during contract talks – The Globe and Mail.

The essential designation issue is a tough one for Kinnear to play. From a strictly ideological perspective — the rights of the workers –, it’s something that he has to oppose with every fibre of his being. But he knows also that it really wouldn’t necessarily be that bad for TTC workers. (Kinnear actually sent out a phone message to union members a week back trying to stir up more opposition to the move amongst his members.)

I respect the public promise he’s made here, as I do think it’s important the province gives this issue the due consideration it deserves. Absolutely the worst possible outcome – for riders, for the city, for anybody – is an ill-suited half-measure, that sees only rush hour service on main line routes declared ‘essential.’ And I fear this might be what we get from the province, driven by politicians whose main concern is that Queen’s Park station is open for business. This could allow a situation where future labour disputes lead to long-running disruptions of service on late-night and “low-ridership” bus routes, which is devastating for low-income people.

But Kinnear’s promise is tough to take, even for those more sympathetic to unions. After all, it was only a couple of years back that he made a similar promise. And look how that turned out.

The full text of Kinnear’s remarks is available via the Toronto Sun.

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