TTC union backs down, now urging members to comply with transit agency’s vaccination mandate

In a surprising setback, the TTC’s largest union has backtracked its fight against the transit agency’s vaccination mandate and is now advising its members to disclose their vaccination status to management.

In a message sent to members Wednesday morning, Carlos Santos, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, criticized TTC CEO Rick Leary, whose actions, according to Santos, had “created an unnecessary and unfortunate crisis” in around the issue of vaccine policy. But Santos claimed that the TTC leadership had heard the criticism from the members “loud and clear” and that it was time to cooperate.

“Accordingly, I and the ATU Local 113 Executive Board are now requesting that by September 30, 2021, members comply with the immunization status disclosure set forth in TTC policy.”

The message called on the union and Leary to “work together on a fair vaccination policy.”

Local 113 had taken a hard line against the TTC vaccination mandate since management announced plans for the policy in August. The union had urged members not to disclose their vaccination status, which it claimed was private medical information.

His directive to comply with the policy is a sudden change and came a day after the TTC filed an urgent request with the Ontario Labor Relations Board alleging that Local 113’s directive not to confirm that his status amounted to an action. illegal strike resulting in “abysmally low” vaccination disclosure rates among employees.

The union’s decision to change its tune came moments after an unusual press conference in Queen’s Park in which independent MPP Roman Baber (York Center) claimed Local 113 had backed his so-called Jobs and Jabs Act. The private member bill would prohibit workers from being fired or placed on leave for refusing to receive their COVID-19 injections or failing to disclose their vaccination status.

Santos was quoted as supporting the bill in a press release that Baber circulated and was supposed to attend the conference, but did not show up. Local 113 did not immediately respond to a request seeking clarification of its position on the bill.

Representatives from two other transit unions, CUPE Local 5089, which represents TTC rate inspectors and safety officers, and ATU Local 107, which represents Hamilton transit workers, attended to support Baber’s legislation.

Prime Minister Doug Ford expelled Baber from the PC caucus in January after he wrote a letter to the prime minister opposing the pandemic restrictions and stating that “the blockade is deadlier than COVID.”

Under the mandatory vaccination policy introduced by the TTC on September 7, all employees and contractors must be fully vaccinated by October 30. They were supposed to disclose their vaccine status before September 20, but despite the TTC extending the disclosure deadline until September 20. 30, only about 56 percent of workers have provided their status according to the latest figures shared by the agency.

Both the union and TTC say they believe most of the workers have received their vaccinations.

Local 113 represents more than 12,000 transit workers and is the largest union in TTC.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto reporter who covers transportation. Contact him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr


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