Unifor Local 229 backs Liberals Michael Gravelle, Bill Mauro

One of the largest union locals in Thunder Bay says it will support the Liberals this provincial election.

Union represents about 3,500 workers locally, many of whom are in publically funded jobs

File photo of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Liberal MPPs for the region, Michael Gravelle (left) and Bill Mauro (right). (Jeff Walters/CBC)

One of the largest union locals in Thunder Bay says it will support the Liberals this provincial election.

Unifor Local 229 said it has concerns with local NDP candidates not having input in the party's platform.

In a press release issued Tuesday, the union said it was unanimous among members to publicly endorse the Liberal party under the Wynne leadership.

"Unifor Local 229 is going against the trade union grain again to support the two Liberal candidates’ running for re-election in the Thunder Bay-Atikokan and Thunder Bay-Superior North ridings," the press release stated.

The union remarked the Liberal budget was decent and provides important investments in public services and infrastructure as well as resources for continuing Ontario's economic recovery.

"Our members have seen zero percent wages, rollbacks and concessions under the McGuinty Liberal government, but the budget assures us there will be no further cuts to our jobs, especially not 100,000 public service job cuts."

After a recent meeting with the local NDP candidates, Unifor Local 229 president Kari Jefford ​said “it was clear to me [NDP leader Andrea] Horwath was not listening to her supporters. Not only were we forced into an election a year before we needed to, the [fact the] NDP [defeated] a fair budget to try and gain a few seats is despicable."

"The local NDP candidates were not a part of the party platform development which causes me great distress," Jefford continued.

"We were two weeks into the campaign and they didn’t even know what their own platform was, when I asked if they were asked for input, they said 'no.' How are we going to have a voice in Queens Park if while developing her plan for Ontario she doesn’t even hear from the candidates running in the election?"

Unifor members volunteering with NDP campaign

But the NDP candidate for Thunder Bay-Superior North said the union should not believe what the Liberals say they will do for healthcare.

 "So they made three promises a year ago," Andrew Foulds said.

"And this year's budget they made 70 promises. They didn't keep the three last year, how can we count on them to keeping 70 this year?"

Foulds noted many Unifor members have volunteered to help out on his campaign.

"The electorate, the voters in Thunder Bay are very fed up the Liberal government." said Mary Kozorys, the NDP candidate in Thunder Bay - Atikokan. "The corruption and the broken promises."

In northwestern Ontario, Unifor has a total of 3,500 members and 52 collective agreements in the education, healthcare, long-term care, social service and mental health sectors, the union stated in its release.

"All but three of those workplaces are publicly funded. Everything we do is political. We practise strategic voting. Who is best prepared to work with us, understand us and support us and have the power to do that? Definitely not the Conservatives, if we elect the NDP locally we will be silenced by Horwath and be two seats closer to a PC government. If that happens there will be nothing left to say.”

Unifor is Canada's largest private-sector union with more than 300,000 members in every major sector of the economy.