Arbitrator awards Toronto transit workers new contract

3-year contract provides 6 per cent wage increase
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 06/05/2012

Toronto transit workers have been awarded a new contract by an arbitrator.

About 10,000 unionized workers at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) will receive a two per cent pay increase in each year of the three-year deal.

Some improvements were also made to some benefits, but provincially appointed arbitrator Kevin Burkett reduced sick-day flexibility. A doctor’s note is now required for just one day of absence, according to Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 113.

The award also allows the TTC to contract out 62 per cent of its Wheel-Trans service. Previously, the TTC was permitted to use private taxi cabs and contractors for no more than 50 per cent of that service.

This is the first contract since TTC workers were deemed essential under provincial legislation in March 2011.

The six per cent raise, retroactive to April 2011, is less than that reached under the previously negotiated agreement, which gave workers a three per cent increase in each year.

Under the essential service law, the ATU — the union representing the workers — and the TTC will be forced to use binding arbitration should they be unable to settle on an agreement through collective bargaining.

It is the essential service designation that remains to be Kinnear’s biggest issue.

“No arbitrator can replace the highly specific knowledge that both TTC management and the union bring to such detailed negotiations,” Kinnear said in a statement. “And since the parties can reasonably assume that future contracts will be decided by a third-party arbitrator who will not feel qualified to rule on technical issues beyond his or her knowledge, there is now little or no incentive for the give-and-take that leads to greater operational efficiency.”

A review of the legislation, the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes Resolution Act, 2011, will take place in five years.

The City of Toronto hasn’t commented on the ruling.

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