a TTC transit sign outside a TTC station

With a TTC strike looming, here’s what you need to know

Transit riders across the GTA are bracing for a possible TTC strike as early as this Friday, June 7 at midnight, if bargaining teams from the TTC and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, whose members have been without a contract since March 31, don’t reach a collective agreement.

Since January, the TTC has successfully renewed agreements with three of their six bargaining units—CUPE Local 5089 (Special Constables and Fare Inspectors), IAMAW Lodge 235 (millwrights, machinists, and other skilled shop employees), and CUPE Local 2 (electrical skilled trades). However, no deal has been reached as yet with ATU Local 113, which is the TTC’s largest union partner, representing approximately 11,500 operators, collectors, maintenance workers, station staff, and other frontline employees.

“…we need to be honest with all our employees and customers. Past experience tells us that if there is a labour disruption with ATU Local 113, there will be service impacts,” TTC CEO Rick Leary said in a statement in late April. “What exactly those impacts could be will depend on the extent and nature of the disruption and are not yet known.”

The strike could mean anything from a full shutdown of Toronto’s bus–streetcar–subway network to some form of labour disruption, with Friday indicating the earliest date that such a disruption could begin.

This would be the first strike in 16 years. The last TTC strike took place in 2008, but it only lasted one weekend as the then-Liberal provincial government ordered TTC staff back to work.

Not a Bargain

In an interview with CP24 on Monday, ATU Local 113 President Marvin Alfred said that both sides are still at the bargaining table, but not enough progress has been made.

“Unfortunately, as a result of not being able to have the progress needed to avoid a strike, yes, people should be preparing to have us withdraw our services on Friday,” Alfred told the outlet.

Since the union’s contract expired in March, they launched their ‘United to Win’ campaign, which involved training more than 500 member organizers and picket captains, gathering a petition of more than 8,000 members, and garnering thousands of letters from riders and advocates in support of TTC workers. This led to a strike authorization with 98.2% of the members in favor of a strike.

The critical issues the two sides are debating over include job security, wages, dignified working conditions, and safety on the job.

“After months of negotiations, it has become clear that the TTC has no interest in giving TTC workers the fair and just contract they deserve,” ATU International President John Costa said in a statement last Wednesday. “Amidst growing violence on the TTC, our heroic Local 113 members have put their lives on the line every day to safely transport our riders across Toronto, but the TTC continues to treat them with disrespect and disdain.”

If the strike takes places, it could impact millions of riders (in 2023, the TTC had a ridership of about 736,712,000, or approximately 2,483,800 per weekday).

Alternatives to taking the TTC

  • Riders commuting to downtown Toronto might consider using GO Transit, although keep in mind that there could be picket lines by Union Station.
  • Driving/carpooling: there are various Green P Parking locations across the city, including locations with electric vehicle charging spots.
  • Uber, Lyft, or other ridesharing services.
  • Bike Share Toronto: The services offers 24/7 access to over 9,000+ bikes and 700+ stations across Toronto’s biking network.

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