TTC union president reinstated
Judge rules Bob Kinnear should represent members until local’s future is sorted
The embattled head of the TTC’s biggest union is back in his job after a court decision Tuesday, in spite of a no-confidence motion passed by the union local’s board.
A provincial court judge reinstated Bob Kinnear as president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 president Tuesday, three weeks after he was deposed from the top job by the union’s U.S.-based parent.
But hours later, the Local 113 executive board unanimously voted “no confidence” in him and called for his resignation in an emergency session, a statement issued by Local 113 said.
In his decision issued Tuesday, Justice Michael Penny of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted an interlocutory injunction that allowed Kinnear to regain control over Local 113.
On Feb. 3, the Amalgamated Transit Union International abruptly deposed Kinnear and placed Local 113 under a trusteeship. ATU International accused him of attempting to disaffiliate the local from its parent organization without the consent of the local’s members.
Penny wrote that while he couldn’t determine whether Kinnear had the support of members to disaffiliate, he should be allowed to represent his members while the future of the local is sorted out.
There are no elections for the local scheduled until December 2018, Local 113 secretary-treasurer Kevin Morton said in an email.
Penny determined that allowing ATU International to maintain the trusteeship would cause irreparable harm because it “deprives the membership of their duly elected leader.”
Kinnear said he would continue serving as president of the local despite the no-confidence motion.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I think it’s somewhat unfortunate under the circumstances that some people would take that position considering what we’ve been through over the last couple of weeks because, again, it circumvents the members’ opportunity to have their say.”
Kinnear said he intended to initiate a dialogue with other board members in the coming days.
“The point I’ll be making is it’s about the members, and we’ve got to ensure that we’re meeting their needs and the representation they deserve. We’ll figure out how we can best do that under some difficult circumstances.”
Manny Sforza, the ATU International official installed as the trustee, issued a statement slamming the judge’s decision.
He accused Kinnear of working with Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, to poach Local 113’s members.
“This is an empire-building exercise by Bob Kinnear and (Unifor president) Jerry Dias and has nothing to do with the interests of public transit workers in Toronto,” he said.
Dias tweeted that Penny’s decision was a blow for Canadian labour democracy.
Meanwhile, Morton slammed Kinnear’s actions as “self-serving and secretive” and “in our view, unprecedented for the entire Canadian labour movement.”
Morton said in an email that his expectation is Kinnear will resign “so our union can move forward.”
ATU Local 113 represents more than 10,000 TTC workers. With files from Sammy Hudes