A long-awaited legal judgment has been hailed as a major victory for both workers and passenger safety by the union that represents electrical, signals and communication workers at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).

A judgment handed down yesterday by Justice Chalmers of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found that the TTC Act, passed in 2011, violated workers’ Charter right to free collective bargaining. The judgment came in response to a challenge filed in 2015 by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 113, representing public transit workers; and by CUPE 2, whose members perform all installations, maintenance and troubleshooting on all the TTC’s electrical safety equipment. 

Gaetano Franco, President of CUPE 2, said that, along with restoring workers’ right to strike, the decision will strengthen the union’s role in maintaining high safety standards for TTC passengers.

“Workers and TTC riders both win because of this decision,” said Franco. “As workers, we got back our constitutional right to strike. 

“But safety is also paramount for my co-workers and me. We maintain every safety aspect on the TTC and we want to make sure your family makes it home from work in one piece. Because of this decision, we can make sure there are never any attempts to cut corners on the work we do. And we will campaign against any changes that would compromise passenger safety.”

Such changes, Franco said, could include privatization, contracting out or public-private partnerships, “or anything that puts safety in competition with profit.”

CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn called the decision a victory for all workers who seek to build power and protect public services through the collective bargaining process. 

“This victory matters for all workers, not just members of CUPE and ATU at the TTC. It should be a lesson to any government that is considering taking away workers’ constitutional rights. We have the fundamental right to withdraw our labour and this right is key to building workers’ power and to protecting our public services.”

CUPE 2 members have been without a contract for more than a year, and Franco had a final message to the TTC: “Now that we have the court’s decision, we urge the TTC to get serious about bargaining and come back to the table to reach an agreement will ensure the best possible experience for people who use the TTC.”

Today’s decision also applies to members of the newly organized CUPE 470, which represents TTC operations supervisors. The local is currently in negotiations for a first contract with the TTC.