Negotiations continue this week after some 650 communications, electrical and signal workers at the TTC voted for a strike mandate
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2 said last week that 99.3 per cent of its members voted for a strike mandate on Feb. 8.
The union said the move means the workers could strike “if it is necessary to get the TTC back to the negotiating table.”
It said workers are looking for a contract offer that addresses the rising cost of living and “the reality that workers have not had a freely negotiated contract in more than a decade.” They said they also want to see a list of concession demands dropped.
About 88 per cent of the 661 workers who belong to the local took part in the vote, the union said.
“We love working at the TTC. We’re huge supporters of public transit. But at the same time the cost of living in Toronto has skyrocketed,” CUPE Local 2 President Sumit Guleria said in a statement. “The reality is that we’re bleeding workers because other employers offer significantly better wages.”
She added that CUPE Local 2 workers are being “taken for granted and being treated disrespectfully by management.”
The workers have been without a contract since March 2022.
It’s the first time that unionized TTC workers have been able to take job action in nearly 13 years, thanks to a court ruling last year which struck down the province’s designation of the TTC as an essential service.
In a statement, TTC CEO Rick Leary said negotiations are ongoing despite the strike mandate and that there are contingency plans in place.
“Our contingency plans are designed to allow us to preserve as much service as possible while also respecting the rights of this group of employees,” Leary said. “The plans also take into consideration the ability of other employees to do their jobs during a labour disruption and how we would accommodate them.”
The TTC employs some 17,000 people. Leary said that while there are plans in place in case of a strike, service would likely be affected.
“My top commitment remains the safety of our employees and customers, and delivering reliable service without compromise. However, I also believe that any job action could have an impact on the TTC’s ability to deliver full service without disruption,” Leary said.
The TTC Board agreed to a bargaining mandate last November and the negotiations are ongoing.
“We’re committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to Local 2 employees while being affordable for the taxpayers of Toronto,” Leary said.
Both sides have characterized the other side as having the decision for a strike in their hands.