CBC Windsor

Windsor Votes: CUPE's Choice

Karen Brady, CBC News

As I entered the CUPE office on Parent Avenue to meet with local 543 President Jean Fox I noticed a flyer promoting an election fundraiser for Rick Limoges - a pasta dinner held last night at Club Alouette.

Labour hasn't been shy about who it is endorsing this election, for Mayor, anyway. The CAW's Rick Laporte came out early in the campaign endorsing Rick Limoges. And CBC obtained a copy of a letter recently sent to CUPE membership with its slate of endorsed candidates.

The letter, penned by Fox, encourages members not only to vote for certain candidates, but volunteer on their campaigns as well. It comes as no surprise that CUPE is endorsing Rick Limoges for Mayor of Windsor.

Rick Limoges at his campaign headquarters.jpg

Limoges on the other hand, has been less willing to tie his candidacy to labour. He expressed frustration that the media are trying to make him wear that relationship.

"I welcome the support that I am receiving throughout the community. It's clear that I am not a candidate that is here to support labour. I am here to support the citizens of Windsor and to create jobs and to reduce taxes. I am getting support from some areas, I understand, because of the poisoned atmosphere that we have between labour and management at city hall. I can't control that. I didn't ask for that to happen."

I asked Limoges if city jobs were safe if he is elected. He wouldn't rule out contracting out or cutting services. All he would say is that jobs and cutting taxes were his top priorities.

"My plan is to create jobs, to save the jobs that we have, and to reduce taxes... and everything else is secondary."

The slate of CUPE endorsed candidates includes:

Mayor: Rick Limoges

Ward 1: Joel Bentley

Ward 2: Ron Jones

Ward 3: Shannon Porcellini

Ward 4: Tony Blak & Jody Percy

Ward 5: Ken Lewenza Jr.

Ward 6, 7, 8: no recommendations

Ward 9: Hilary Payne

Ward 10: Jeff Gaudette & Sonja Maric

Percy and Maric's names were left off the original letter that went out to CUPE members almost three weeks ago. But amendment letters were drafted a few days later to CUPE voters in wards 4 and 10.

Fox says the letter bases its recommendations on applications received by the District Labour Council. Every year candidates seeking labour's endorsement must fill out a list of questions to be endorsed.

"Certain councillors do that every election... are invited to complete surveys and then a recommendation goes out," says Fox.

This year the Labour Council didn't endorse candidates. Instead it put out a 'vision statement' for the community.

Referring to the letter, Fox said, "These candidates best suited that [vision]." Limoges told me he wasn't aware of the endorsement.

W4 Adriano Ciotoli crop.jpg

Not all CUPE members were automatically endorsed. Adriano Ciotoli in Ward 4 is a CUPE 543 member who was overlooked.

Ciotoli is okay with that. "I didn't seek the Labour Council endorsement." The 30 year old says he believes he has the backing of some union people in his ward. "They believe in my platform and enthusiasm for the city."

Ward 9's Hilary Payne is another curious endorsement. He says he didn't seek a labour endorsement and is surprised to have CUPE's blessing. Payne sat across the table from CUPE leadership in his many years as city Administrator. But Fox says, he still fits the bill.

"We didn't always agree. However I find that Mr Payne is an intelligent person who understands the workings of city hall and the role of administration and the role that the union has and how both sides see each [other]. He wanted the best for this community... he's looking for well paying jobs, he's looking to enhance the community as far as infrastructure and public services. He understands the importance of public services and good jobs."

Fox says the letter was only addressed to their membership and she had no intention of going public with the list of candidates CUPE supports. She downplays the notion that the letter is newsworthy.

'We do this every election. It's not any different"

CUPE President Jean Fox heads to the polls.jpg

Our meeting ended with a drive over to the advance polling station at St Angela Merici Church where Jean Fox was casting her vote. I asked her who she was voting for. She wouldn't say, but I can make a pretty good guess that she'll be casting her mayoral ballot for Limoges.