ATU Local 113

ATU Local 113

June 05, 2008 14:46 ET

Toronto Transit Union Head Condemns TTC for "Slander" Against Worker Killed in Subway Tunnel Accident

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 5, 2008) - ATU Local 113 President Bob Kinnear reacted angrily to the Toronto Transit Commission's premature and selective release of information related to the death of union member Tony Almeida in the April 2007 subway accident. The Globe and Mail reported today that Almeida "was high on marijuana when the work car he was driving crashed, according to a high-ranking Toronto Transit Commission source."

"This is a despicable attempt to shift blame to the victim of a tragedy for which the TTC has already pleaded guilty," Kinnear said.

"After an exhaustive year-long investigation, there is no evidence that Tony was in the slightest way responsible for the accident and, in fact, he could not have been. He was operating the flatbed work car, which runs on rails, and had been given clearance by a supervisor to proceed back to the yard as the shift had ended. He was proceeding at a normal speed when the accident occurred.

"He was killed because a moveable work platform had not been properly retracted, which is why the TTC was fined $250,000 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In no way could it have been his fault.

"Moreover, the TTC source's claim that Tony was 'high on marijuana' is speculative at best, as marijuana can be detected in the blood for weeks after its use.

"On behalf of Tony's widow and children, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the TTC's outrageous slander against a man who is not alive to defend himself.

"The irony here is that Tony Almeida died while removing asbestos from the subway. Asbestos is a potent carcinogen and a major lingering public health hazard which is the result of past TTC decisions. Now the TTC wants to taint his name and burden his children with a public image of their father as someone who caused his own death through the use of marijuana. It is shameful and will, at a minimum, poison labour relations at the TTC for the foreseeable future."

Kinnear also says the union will not comment further on the issue of drug and alcohol testing of TTC employees until there is a specific proposal to address. He did, however, reiterate longstanding union policy on the issue of impairment.

"Our union's policy on fitness for work has always been the same: If for any reason you do not feel able to safely perform your duties, do not report for work. Many prescription drugs can cause some degree of impairment, let alone other substances, and we must always err on the side of safety.

"We will await any specific proposal from the TTC in this area and will comment at that time."

Contact Information

  • Reno Associates
    Bill Reno
    (416) 223-7366