The union representing the majority of TTC workers is going to court to temporarily prevent the transit agency from suspending or firing employees who do not follow its mandatory vaccination policy on COVID-19.
Under the TTC’s vaccination mandate, employees who have not received their shots can be placed on unpaid leave, effective November 21. As of December 31, those who have not yet performed will be fired with good reason.
In an application filed Thursday, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents about 12,000 TTC workers, is asking the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice to force the transit agency to pause enforcement of the policy until an arbitrator rules on the complaint the union filed in September challenging. the vaccine mandate. Alternatively, it asks the court to pause enforcement for 60 days.
Local 113 has opposed the vaccine mandate since the TTC announced in August that it planned to implement one, and union leaders initially directed members not to disclose their vaccine status to management.
But in a statement on Thursday, Local 113 President Carlos Santos said the court request is not about opposition to vaccinations.
“As a union, it’s about protecting 2,000 jobs and the resources of dedicated public transportation workers to provide for themselves, their families and loved ones,” he said.
“While ATU Local 113 supports COVID-19 vaccinations, we remain firm in our belief that vaccination should be the personal choice of every worker. As a union, we have a duty to support our members and protect their rights.”
The TTC did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday afternoon.
According to the union’s candidacy, as of Oct. 21, less than 84 percent of Local 113 members had disclosed their vaccination status, meaning more than 1,900 employees had not yet fulfilled the mandate.
Local 113 filed a complaint against the TTC mandatory vaccination policy on September 10, three days after it was introduced, arguing that the policy violates the union’s collective agreement, the Charter, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and other legislation.
The union says it did its best to expedite the grievance procedure, but the TTC did not. Last week, an arbitrator accepted the TTC’s request for a break, and Local 113 argues that the complaint will not be decided until Nov. 21, when the transit agency intends to begin issuing suspensions.
In its court file, the union argues that if its request for a ban is not granted, even if it ultimately succeeds in its complaint, “it will be too late for many of our members” and about 2,000 workers “or will be forced”. receive an unwanted medical procedure or lose their income on November 21, 2021 and employment on December 31, 2021. ”
The union argues that both results “constitute irreparable damage.”