Buses, streetcars and subways are rolling as usual this morning, spelling relief for 1.5 million TTC riders, who had anxiously waited days for yesterday’s tentative contract deal between the transit agency and its union.
The agreement, which averted a paralyzing transit strike today, gives 8,900 TTC workers a 3 per cent increase in each year of a three-year agreement, making them the highest paid transit workers in the Toronto region.
A “GTA clause” will ensure they retain that lead through the life of the contract, said union president Bob Kinnear, who announced the settlement nearly two hours after yesterday’s 4 p.m. deadline and 24 hours after he told reporters he was losing hope a strike could be averted. The self-imposed 4 p.m. deadline was the latest the union said it could wait to notify its workers of a strike. But a breakthrough in bargaining compelled the union to keep talking.
“We felt it was reasonable to go an hour beyond the deadline in the interest of the public and, more importantly, our members,” Kinnear told reporters about 6 p.m.
Calling it the toughest negotiation Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union has faced in 20 years, Kinnear said there were many times, right up to yesterday afternoon, that he didn’t believe a deal could be reached.
But he credited City Hall with bringing about a settlement after days of frustration.
Kinnear suggested the turnaround came yesterday following Mayor David Miller’s return from a trade trip to China. But Miller deferred credit for the agreement to TTC negotiators and its chair Adam Giambrone.
Union members still have to ratify the deal.
Although he sympathized with TTC riders who felt held hostage to the negotiations, Miller said there was nothing unusual about the 11th-hour resolution.
“The importance of what’s happened is there’s a negotiated settlement. A negotiated settlement is always best. They’re written by both parties who have to live with this agreement,” he told reporters.
“It’s been a very difficult process as negotiations often are,” said TTC chair Adam Giambrone. “They normally come down to the wire as they have in this case. On behalf of the 1.5 million people that ride the TTC every day it’s very good news.”