10/28/08

Colorado's ugly forced-labor unionism displayed

More worker-choice stories: here

Union operatives will say and do anything to defeat worker-choice amendment

A former legal adviser to the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, a union opposing the so-called right-to-work measure on the November ballot, sent an e-mail to the measure's co-author using a racial slur and profanity.

DeAngelo Starnes, who until recently was an associate general counsel for the UFCW Local 7, wrote to Amendment 47 co-author Ryan Frazier in August, after Frazier had sent a mass e-mail to Starnes and dozens of others. The e-mail was about an event the Aurora city councilman sponsors to help children receive school supplies.

Starnes replied to Frazier, saying, "You f------ sell-out. Why are you sending this to me?" according to an e-mail obtained by The Denver Post that was sent from Starnes' private account to Frazier's public e-mail account with Aurora. "Take me off your e-mail list, House N----."

Frazier replied: "Hey, no need for the ignorant language. We will take you off immediately. God bless you."

Starnes then replied: "Just keep bending over for the white man, alright?"

Both Frazier and Starnes are African-American.

"Certainly those are words that you don't soon forget," Frazier said. "But I'm a grown-up, and you move on and do what you have to do in life."

In an e-mail, Starnes acknowledged the reply to Frazier, saying, "It was a joke, albeit a crude one."

He said the focus should be on Amendment 47.

"Those e-mails had nothing to do with Local 7 as they were sent unsolicited to me by Mr. Frazier to my personal e-mail account," Starnes said. "I didn't mean any harm to Mr. Frazier."

Ernest Duran, president of the UFCW Local 7, said he was not aware of the e-mail. He said Starnes "recently left" the union position but would not elaborate.

"It's totally inappropriate," Duran said of the e-mail. "Any comments like that we don't condone or tolerate."

Starnes appears in a television ad paid for by Coloradans for Middle Class Relief, which opposes Amendment 47. The amendment would prohibit mandatory union fees as a condition of employment.

Frazier said he did not realize who Starnes was until he saw the commercial and recognized the name.

Julian Jay Cole, who wrote Amendment 47 with Frazier, on Monday filed a complaint with the state contending that Starnes has been practicing law without a license.

The complaint states that Starnes appeared as counsel for the union at least three times.

Starnes, who made $110,000 last year as the union's counsel, does not have a license to practice law in the state.

Starnes acknowledged he doesn't have a Colorado license, but said he was admitted to practice law in federal court. That would require he be licensed in another state. He would not say whether he has a license from another state.

He was admitted to the federal bar in U.S. District Court in Denver in July 2000. Labor cases are typically handled at that level.

Records show his law license in Washington, D.C., was suspended in 2003 for six months for making a false statement to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Committee on Admissions.

The committee also found he failed to provide competent representation, abandoned his clients, and failed to withdraw as their counsel after he began working full time for a federal agency and could no longer shoulder his duties to his private clients.

Records do not show his license was reinstated.

Duran said he did not know that Starnes was not licensed to practice law in Colorado.

Earlier this year, a pro-union group cited certain campaign contributions to Frazier in an attack ad against Frazier and Amendment 47.

The contributions made to him were from a company that won a $10 million contract with Aurora. The entire City Council had approved the contract.

(denverpost.com)

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