Workers at the Toronto Transit Commission will soon be subjected to random drug tests.
It comes more than four years after the board approved sporadic drug and alcohol testing; the program was suspended pending the outcome of arbitration with the TTC’s biggest union, Local 113.
The testing was meant as an addition to an existing policy, which wasn’t as inclusive. It only covered situations where there was reasonable cause to test an employee, or after a reported incident.
Funding for the random testing was approved last month by the Board. The TTC will also request that provincial Liberals make the testing mandatory for all public transit agencies.
A fatal crash in the summer of 2011 sparked the push for the random testing. A bus driver was charged with criminal negligence causing death and possession of cannabis, after his bus rear-ended a truck. One passenger was killed and several others injured in the crash.
In a recent memo, CEO Andy Byford tells employees “the TTC has seen continued instances of impairment while at work. That is simply unacceptable.”
It appears that memo caught Local 113 President Bob Kinnear by surprise. He told the Toronto Star “it would seem to me the TTC is taking the position that they’re going to ignore our collective agreement. They’re going to arbitrarily impose whatever working conditions and provisions that they feel like.”
The union will now ask the arbitrator for an injunction on the random testing, but Kinnear says if that doesn’t get approval, they are willing to go to court.
**Memo via Brad Ross, TTC Executive Director of Corporate Communications