TTC Union Puts Worker Drug and Alcohol Testing on Hold

In 2011 the TTC management board approved a policy that would allow for random drug testing of its employees. This policy was voted on after a 43-year old woman, Jadranka Petrova an immigrant from Macedonia, was killed. Petrova was a passenger on a TTC bus which collided with a flatbed crane truck. Six other passengers were hurt and taken to various trauma centres.

The driver of the TTC bus was charged with negligence and possession of cannabis. He refused a drug test.

Under the current policy, the TTC may test an employee, if management believes there is a reasonable cause to do so.  Management may also drug-test an employee following an incident, such as a collision. Between 2010 and 2014 drug testing for reasonable cause found eleven TTC drivers to have been drug or alcohol-impaired. Seven other employees, who refused drug testing, were considered to have had a positive test result under the TTC drug policy.  Other TTC employees have tested positive for drugs after incidents occurred while they were on the job.

The proposed random drug testing program is now on hold, pending the outcome of arbitration with the TTC’s largest union. The TTC union, the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113, opposes all forms of testing (including testing based on reasonable cause and post-incident drug-testing). The conclusion of the arbitration process may take up to three years. The union has already spent $800,000 challenging the policy and will spend a lot more fighting what the union alleges to be an invasive and costly policy.

Andy Byford, the TTC’s CEO, supports drug testing. He has expressed that a responsible transit authority should take whatever measures are available to make sure there is no question that employees should never be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Random testing for drug or alcohol impairment of TTC drivers will help reduce unnecessary injuries and death of TTC passengers.  Such a policy is long overdue.

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