Published June 5, 2024

(Updated) Friday deadline looms for possible Toronto Transit Commission strike

By Jordan Omstead
A Toronto Transit Commission sign is shown at a downtown Toronto subway stop Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Updated June 5, 2024 @ 5:10pm

Toronto transit workers are headed for a strike Friday unless negotiations on key contract issues change drastically, their union president said Wednesday, while the transit agency said it remains optimistic a deal can be worked out.

Contract talks between the Toronto Transit Commission and the largest union of city transit workers are careening toward a strike deadline of Friday just past 12 a.m., raising the prospect of the first Toronto transit strike since 2008. 

ATU Local 113 president Marvin Alfred said the two sides were at an "impasse" Wednesday and suggested the union's nearly 12,000 members were moving toward a strike. 

"Unless some things change drastically regarding some of our core issues ... we'll be going on strike Friday," he said, speaking from a downtown Toronto hotel where talks were taking place. 

A strike could bring Canada's most populous city to a grinding halt, upending travel plans for tens of thousands of commuters who depend on its subways, streetcars and buses. 

Alfred said the union's main sticking points in negotiations include wages, benefits, and a number of job security issues. The union wants protections against contracting jobs out to third parties and from cross-boundary service getting handed over to other Greater Toronto Area transit operators.

"We're tired. We're frustrated. We're pissed that this is taking so long to get this deal done," he said. "This is not a matter of going to the wire if you want me to be truthful."

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the transit agency was optimistic a deal could be worked out ahead of Friday's deadline, but said it was "likely to go down to the wire." 

"We do think that there's enough goodwill at the table that we can reach an agreement that reaches a balance that's fair. That respects the work that our union members do, which is very challenging, front-line important work, but also something that's affordable for the City of Toronto," he said. 

Neither side offered specifics on any terms proposed in negotiations. The two sides have agreed to continue operating Wheel-Trans, the city's paratransit service for people with disabilities, if there is job action. 

A more than decade-long strike ban on TTC workers was recently lifted after a judge found a provincial law that labelled them essential workers was unconstitutional. Last month, the Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed an appeal brought by the province and upheld the workers' right to strike.

Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday he wanted a TTC strike avoided "at all costs." Asked if he would bring in legislation, he said, "let's first hope and pray that they don't go on strike." 

The last strike in 2008 ended after less than two days when the provincial government held a special weekend sitting to legislate the union members back to work. Several other ATU Local 113 job actions, including a record 23-day strike in 1970 and a 45-day work-to-rule campaign in 1989, have ended with legislation.

Beck, a Toronto taxi company, said it would operate at full capacity Friday, but could not guarantee wait times. A spokesperson also said that although the city has given the company the power to surcharge, it had committed to not using the practice. 

A spokesperson for Uber said it would offer incentives to drivers to try to increase trip availability and recommend customers use its group ride feature. The company said it would also cap surge pricing, the multiplier it adds to fares when there are more ride requests than Uber drivers. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2024. 

What do you think of this article?

Have a breaking story?

Share it with us!
Share Your Story

What Barrie's talking about!

From breaking news to the best slice of pizza in town! Get everything Barrie’s talking about delivered right to your inbox every day. Don’t worry, we won’t spam you. We promise :)
Subscription Form
Consent Info

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Central Ontario Broadcasting, 431 Huronia Rd, Barrie, Ontario, CA, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Related Stories