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By Susanna Kelley

Premier Kathleen Wynne now says her Liberal Party will no longer support a Conservative MPP's private members bill that would grant construction giant Ellis Don the right to use non-unionized labour. 

Under questioning from NDP leader Andrea Horwath, Ms. Wynne told the Legislature she will withdraw her party's support, and her own, for Bill 74, which mirrors a recent Divisional Court ruling - if the court's decision is not appealed.

However, the Ontario Sheet Metal Workers say it will appeal the recent court ruling allowing EllisDon to use non-union workers outside the Greater Toronto Area.

What's more, Bill 74 will likely face a Charter of Rights challenge in the courts if passed, says Ontario Sheet Metal Workers counsel Eric Comartin.

"A number of unions are considering a Charter challenge to Bill 74, if it passes, as inconsistent with the right to freedom of association," says Comartin.

But first, the Sheet Metal Workers are seeking leave to appeal the Divisional Court ruling last week that EllisDon is not bound to a 1958 agreement that ensured it used only unionized workers outside the GTA.

As she said in the Legislature, the Premier has based her withdrawl of support for Bill 74 on the basis that current the court ruling imposes the status quo. 

There is a dispute, however, about what the "status quo" actually is.

Opponents of the bill such as Comartin take that to mean the original situation, wherin EllisDon hired only unionized workers outside the Toronto region.

Supporters believe it means the situation imposed after the Divisional Court ruling - i.e. that the company could use workers that did not belong to a union.

Critics accuse the Premier of letting the court do the heavy lifting rather than be seen to give preferential treatment to a company that has been a major financial backer of her party for many years.

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