Appeal court upholds TTC workers’ right to strike as potential job action looms

By The Canadian Press and Patricia D'Cunha

Ontario’s top court has upheld the right of Toronto Transit Commission workers to strike, a decision that comes just days before potential job action.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario on Thursday dismissed an appeal by the provincial government of a lower court ruling that declared a law eliminating the workers’ right to strike unconstitutional.

“Today is an important day, not just for transit workers but for all workers,” Marvin Alfred, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 113, said in a release. “Despite the Ford government’s attacks, the Court of Appeal has clearly said that the right to strike is protected by the Charter and it is a right that cannot be stripped away at the whim of the government.”

The Ontario government in 2011, under the Liberals, enacted a law banning unionized TTC workers from striking, which government lawyers in this appeal said came after “unusually frequent strike action and immediate ad-hoc back-to-work legislation.”

A Superior Court judge found last year that the law interfered with workers’ collective bargaining rights, and the Appeal Court today agreed.

The decision was a split one, with two out of the three Appeal Court judges siding with the union.

ATU Local 113 represents about 12,000 operators and other front-life staff at the TTC.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Labour issued a no-board report to the union, enabling them to legally strike as early as June 7. A legal strike can begin 17 days after a no-board report has been issued.

The union, which confirmed the strike date, has said they remain at the bargaining table, hoping to make progress on key issues related to job security, wages and benefits.

The union said its collective agreement expired on March 31, 2024.

In April, the 12,000 workers who operate and maintain the TTC voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of a strike mandate.

At the time, the union said if no progress was made at the bargaining table, it has no choice but to proceed with strike action.

If no agreement is reached, it will be the first time in 10 years that the union can exercise their right to strike after a 2023 court ruling restored TTC workers’ right to do so. The last time ATU Local 113 members went on strike was in 2008.

With files from Hayley McGoldrick and CityNews staff

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