Transit union’s vaccination position amounts to illegal strike: TTC

More than 60% of Toronto’s unionized bus, streetcar and subway operators haven’t disclosed their vaccination status to management

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Opposition to the TTC’s vaccination policy by its largest union amounts to illegal job action, the Toronto Transit Commission alleges.

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A filing made Tuesday with the Ontario Labour Relations Board by the TTC alleges that Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113’s advice that its members not disclose their vaccination status to managers amounts to encouraging an unlawful strike, in violation of the Labour Relations Act.

“ATU Local 113 executives have engaged in a campaign that is creating obstacles to our objectives and is hindering the best public health advice regarding vaccinations,” TTC CEO Rick Leary said in a statement.

“This is unfortunate for the people they represent as some of these individuals are now in a position where they may be unable to work.”

In August, both the City of Toronto and the TTC announced plans to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for employees, with a deadline of Sept. 30 to disclose their vaccination status to management as a condition of employment.

TTC employees who don’t disclose their status by Oct. 1 will be treated as “unvaccinated” and subject to dismissal.

“Employees who are unvaccinated by the latest deadline of Oct. 30, 2021 will put themselves in a position where they are unable to work,” the application reads.

“If employees are unable to work as a result thereof, the TTC’s operations and ability to meet service will most certainly be disrupted and may even be completely curtailed.”

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Earlier this month, the union — both internally and on its public-facing social media — urged its members not to disclose their vaccination status.

“It is my belief the vast majority of employees — unionized or not — are already vaccinated,” Leary said in his statement.

“Consistent with declining case counts in the general public, we are seeing very few new cases amongst our employees on a daily basis.”

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In the application, the TTC reported percentages of ATU members who’d disclosed their vaccination status as of Monday were “abysmally low” — just 45% for members (39% for transit operators) compared to 88% for non-union employees.

As the TTC’s vaccine policy stands now, that would put more than 60% of bus, streetcar and subway operators out of service.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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