When They Say Jump: The ATU and the TTC

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When They Say Jump: The ATU and the TTC

Jim Nolan

On Thursday, December 17, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU Local 113), the union that represents the majority of Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) workers, provided an example of how not to organize its membership for a job action.

At 7:30pm, the evening before the action was meant to take place, members received a vague text from the union’s president. It urged bus, transit and subway operators to briefly stop work for 4 minutes and 30 seconds “in honor of Transit Worker Assault Awareness Day.” That same evening, a short announcement about this planned work stoppage was also made at the General... Membership meeting. However, for most workers, the mass text was the only communication they received.

This action was intended to be part of a broader health and safety campaign, which was launched recently following the stabbing of a member who works as a fare collector. The union had previously sent a mass text encouraging collectors to stay in their booths and the union president has been on AM radio advocating for City Council to recognize “Transit Worker Assault Awareness Day.”

Reports from the operators I spoke with following the scheduled action indicate that participation was sporadic at best. Some said no one during their shift participated, others said that they were the only one to join in. In one case an operator I spoke with estimated that roughly 20-50 of the 900 bus and subway operators in their division participated. Where I work in maintenance, there was no discussion and no participation in the action. ATU is an operator-dominated union and we clearly weren’t the target of the text.

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