Torontoist is following the TTC’s strike, using our own reporting, other local news sources, and any other resources available to us to keep this article updated continually with the latest information. Use the TTC Strike tag to view Torontoist’s other strike coverage, or view our list of online resources to see coverage, photos, videos, and ideas elsewhere.
Russell (Connaught) Carhouse, Sunday, 12 p.m. Photo by somebody_ from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
Current Status: Strike Over
LATEST UPDATE: Earlier today, the provincial government—with Liberal, PC, and NDP support—passed legislation forcing TTC employees back to work in time for service to resume on Sunday night. Subways, buses, and streetcars are now running city-wide, and Monday morning will see the TTC running as normal, with full service. We’re happy to have it back.
Last updated on April 27 at 9:00 p.m.
Spadina Station, Saturday, 6:45 a.m. Photo by Cy Goldsbie, featured in this Torontoist article.
Late on Friday, April 26, the TTC union rejected the tentative agreement that had been reached the previous weekend, with 65% of its members voting against the proposed terms. Just before 11:00 p.m. on Friday night, the union issued a news release stating that “a strike will begin as of midnight tonight.” (The TTC released details of that rejected agreement at 12:30 a.m.—it had previously been under wraps.) All TTC service—save for selected Wheel-Trans service—was shut down from midnight Friday to Sunday evening.
Bob Kinnear, president of TTC employees’ union (Local 113, of the Amalgamated Transit Union) said in the union’s release last night that: “We have assessed the situation and decided that we will not expose our members to the dangers of assaults from angry and irrational members of the public.” Kinnear defended the short notice, saying that “the reports from our members of increases in threats and abuse from passengers last weekend, after we gave our original 48-hours’ notice, has left us no choice but to withdraw our services immediately. We have a legal responsibility to protect the safety of our members and so does the TTC.”
At an address just after midnight, with Chair Adam Giambrone at his side, David Miller praised the original offer, calling it “fair,” and made it clear that he was unhappy with the union’s refusal to give 48-hours’ notice, blaming Kinnear for refusing to honour his commitment. Miller also announced that Dalton McGuinty had agreed to move to legislate the union back to work, says Miller, “at his earliest opportunity.”
Roncesvalles Carhouse, Saturday, 7:13 a.m. Photo by bigdaddyhame from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
Twelve hours later, McGuinty followed through, issuing an order for Ontario Legislature to hold an emergency meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Both John Tory and Howard Hampton declared their support for the proposed legislation.
Meanwhile, the TTC and its union returned to negotiations at the Sheraton Parkway hotel just after noon on Saturday. According to Global, “the Union is deeply split and the strike may have been orchestrated by union members seeking to embarrass or oust ATU President Bob Kinnear.” Talks ended just after 6 p.m. and the TTC issued a statement at 6:19 p.m. declaring that it had considered the union’s new demands, “but [that] they were significantly different from, and more expensive than what was tentatively agreed to last Sunday. The union was informed of this; they then indicated no further discussion would be productive. The release encouraged the cooperation of the public, requesting that they “please remember that TTC employees have a right to be treated with dignity. The TTC shares the public’s frustration with the lack of TTC service this weekend; however, its workers’ safety is paramount.”
Just before 2 p.m., the proposed legislation was quickly passed (and made law by Lieutenant Governor David Onley—at the Air Canada Centre during a Toronto FC game, no less). The NDP, PC, and Liberals all supported it, though the NDP had “reservations”—they wanted to make it clear that the issue of declaring the TTC an essential service was a separate matter, to be debated at another time (and that they would not support essential service legislation should it be proposed). All party leaders, and the TTC, urged Torontonians to be nice to the workers when they come back to work.
Earlier in the day, the TTC had informed workers to show up for their Sunday night shifts if legislation passed; once it did pass, the TTC announced that it was “working hard to restore service as quickly as possible,” likely within three to four hours from the announcement (so, by 5 or 6 p.m.) so it could “bring the service up to safe, normal operating standards.” Monday morning will see the TTC running as normal, with full service. TTC Chair Adam Giambrone (first spotted by the Post and Spacing) changed his Facebook status to “Adam is looking forward to full service resuming at TTC TODAY if the back to work legislation passes. Likely service would be up and running by 9pm”; Giambrone reiterated his comments to media later, saying that service would resume between 8 and 9 p.m. At 4:15 p.m., one Torontoist reader spotted a bus back on the road.
Bay Station, Friday, 11:53 p.m. Photos by David Topping.
Torontoist went to Bay station just before midnight on Friday, and found the bulk of the doors leading into the station locked, as an announcement was broadcast over the TTC’s PA system about the strike. Commuters who tried to beat the deadline weren’t able to get inside, while many more—who hadn’t heard of the strike at all—were surprised (and, unsurprisingly, frustrated). At 11:53, a TTC employee ascended the escalator to the station’s Bay Street exit and hurriedly locked the last door (photos above).
The Globe and Mail broke news of the strike at 10:22 p.m. Friday night, pointing to the union’s chaotic Wednesday meeting as the beginning of the TTC’s end. The TTC’s website was updated only minutes before midnight to alert riders to the news—and mistakenly reported that shuttle buses were running in lieu of subway service (they weren’t).
Transit advocate Steve Munro also contributed his thoughts to his blog, pointing to the union’s problems of internal and external communication concluding that: “I am deeply disappointed. Once again, the cause of transit is set back by events that have nothing to do with improving the system.” An operator weighed in in the comments, as well, providing an as-of-yet unheard insider’s view, attempting to downplay Kinnear’s responsibility for the strike and, instead, blame miscommunication over the terms of the offered agreement. (When the TTC released details of that rejected agreement after the strike was called, it included a statement about one particularly contentious issue—contracting out labor for maintenance workers—saying that “There has been discussion in the media that the TTC was attempting to contract out repairs to buses under warranty in an attempt to reduce jobs at the TTC. That is not true. The facts are this: the manufacturer is responsible for certain repairs to buses that are under warranty. TTC employees currently do a substantial amount of warranty work that is charged back to the bus manufacturer.” TTC General Manager Gary Webster repeated that message to the Globe.)
Just before 5:00 p.m., Giambrone updated his Facebook status to read that he “is relieved to have seen his first operating streetcar in 2 days! Thanks everyone for your understanding this last two days!” The strike may have left a bad taste in the mouths of many—the public, politicians, and TTC workers alike—but we’re finally on our way. Here’s hoping that the TTC remains the better way.
With additional reporting from Jonathan Goldsbie.