Bob Kinnear with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in Quebec City, just days before Kinnear’s announcement that he would not seek re-election as Local 113 President
What can best be described as the most tumultuous era in the history of ATU Local 113 will come to a close at the end of this year when Bob Kinnear steps aside as President after 12 years. The decision was announced to the entire membership in a voice broadcast call last Friday afternoon.
“I have been honoured and privileged to be your President for 12 years. During that time, we have accomplished many things, including the OHIP premium, the meal break allowance, the great improvement in our pension and much more. I am not taking credit for these improvements. It was the solidarity of the membership and your support. That is the way it has always been and will always be.
“In the spirit of developing more leadership to face our future challenges, I have decided to not run again as President of Local 113.”
Since taking office in January 2004, Kinnear has dealt with three TTC CGMs, three Toronto Mayors and four TTC Commission Chairs. He led negotiations for four collective agreements, one of which (2008) involved a short walkout that was ended by the Ontario Legislature in an unprecedented Sunday session. A mid-contract, half-day TTC service disruption incident in 2006 occurred after Kinnear had repeatedly warned the Commission and Mayor David Miller that the rising rate of assaults against TTC frontline staff was completely unacceptable and could no longer be tolerated. Shortly after the incident, the TTC began installing retractable plastic shields that vehicle Operators could deploy to protect themselves from attacks.
One of the most memorable times in TTC history came in 2010, when a picture of a Collector dozing off in the little-used McCowan station was plastered on the front page of the Toronto Sun. A media-fuelled frenzy of public anger and disrespect against TTC staff led to a series of public “town hall” meetings in which union members met with over a thousand people to discuss service concerns. The result was a widespread recognition that public discontent with the TTC was due to lack of funding and service cutbacks, not TTC staff.
Kinnear led the union’s charge against transit privatization in a series of public campaigns that showcased the uniformly bad experience with transit privatization around the world and the value of TTC employees who are committed to public service.
Kinnear has not said what his plans for the future are except that he hopes “I can continue to be of service to the cause of public transit and the labour movement.”