4/1/08

Unions go all-out to protect labor-state

One of the Colorado's biggest unions has filed five new ballot initiatives, including a measure that would require Colorado employers to give workers cost-of-living increases so that wages can keep up with inflation. The move by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 follows last week's endorsement of a "right-to-work" initiative by the statewide business chamber known as the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry.

"These are issues we feel will protect working families in full, especially if the right-to-work initiative were to pass," said Manny Gonzales, spokesman for UFCW Local 7. "It's something that would protect workers in areas that would suffer under the right-to-work effort."

A labor-backed coalition already filed a handful of other ballot measures they hope to put to a statewide vote this fall.

"Clearly, they had been loading their gun for some time," said Dan Pilcher, senior vice president for CACI, whose board endorsed the right-to-work proposal after labor groups began promoting their own ballot measures.

"No one in the business community can say these things are good."

The UFCW's Gonzales said the right-to-work measure seeks to destroy unions and working families. The measure would outlaw arrangements requiring all employees to pay fees for union representation, whether they are members or not.

A key proponent of the right-to-work ballot proposal has said he supports the measure because he opposes forcing workers to join unions. Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier has also rejected assertions that the measure would hurt working families.

"If I thought for once it would hurt working families, I wouldn't support the measure," Frazier said.

Labor's agenda

The latest labor-backed initiatives, if approved by voters, would:

* Require employers to provide cost-of-living increases to keep pace with inflation. The amount would come on top of any other increases the company provides by practice, policy or collective bargaining.

* Provide for safe workplaces, holding employers liable for failing to comply in addition to any rights the employee may have under a worker's compensation plan.

* Ban tax credits for companies moving operations overseas.

* Force companies with 20 or more employees to provide major medical coverage for employees and dependents. Employees choosing not to provide coverage would pay premiums to a state-run insurance authority.

* Increase in the assessment of nonresidential real property to 34 percent from 29 percent of its actual value. The increased revenues could be used for health care and education.

(rockymountainnews.com)

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