Top two reasons the TTC won’t go on strike (plus one reason why they might)
By now, you are either busy making alternate commuting plans for next week or you still have your head buried in the sand about Sunday’s looming 4 p.m. TTC strike deadline. Me, I got my bike tuned up last week. Nevertheless, I see two compelling reasons why a strike will be averted, one for each side of the bargaining table.
1. Labour peace This is the thing we all thought the city had gained when it settled the last round of collective bargaining negotiations, notably the 2005 talks with its outside workers. With memories of the 2002 garbage strike still fresh from Mel Lastman’s tenure, we all took “labour peace” to mean “the dividend that comes from having an NDP mayor.” If Bob Kinnear and his members walk off the job, the veil will have been lifted: it wasn’t a peace, it was just a brief ceasefire. And we will all wonder what possible dividend remains from having an NDP mayor. David Miller’s administration needs to settle, and it needs to do so without giving away the keys to the store. Which it ought to be able to do, thanks to the looming possibility of…
2. Essential-services legislation Earlier today Premier Dalton McGuinty said he would consider declaring public transit an essential service, which would take away TTC workers’ right to strike. The argument for doing so is increasingly compelling. There is much talk of the need to get people out of their cars and onto public transit—and the greater the dependence on transit, the more essential the service becomes. If the union walks out, it will incur the wrath of commuters. There will be no political points lost to any government that legislated them back to work for all eternity.
But what do I know? Kinnear is a wild card who led his members on a wildcat strike a couple of years ago, so it’s anybody’s guess how he’ll play this. Moreover, tomorrow’s Globe and Mail will feature a story by Kelly Grant (recently hired away from the Post) about the shared history—and the possibility of bad blood—between Kinnear and TTC chief general manager Gary Webster. Might these two men precipitate a work stoppage over a lingering grudge? Depends how determined one is to be rid of the other.