Labor-state panicked by worker-choice petition

They're all in on this, it seems. First Gov. Bill Ritter and now Sen. Ken Salazar are advising business and labor interests to cool it - stop threatening competing November ballot issues that collectively would cause great damage to Colorado's economic and political well-being.

On the right is a "right to work" petition that would outlaw forced union dues, or agency fees in lieu of dues, on non-union workers. On the left are five union ballot proposals that have state business leaders shaking in their boots.

How do unions get rid of "right to work?" They threaten far worse measures in reprisal.

The fact that Gov. Ritter and Sen. Salazar are calling for a cease-fire in this brewing election battle is not surprising. They are Democrats and most "right to work" anti-union dues adherents are Republicans.

The Right to Work Committee has been trying for decades to make Colorado a right to work state.

Normally, right to work threats are a minor inconvenience to unions because they don't lead anywhere. But this year, the influential Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry has endorsed this ballot initiative. This time, the unions have decided to fight fire with fire.

That's putting it mildly. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, based in Denver, is threatening to bring a bazooka into this war if CACI and other business leaders don't back off. How to get management's attention? Take out ballot petitions to:

Mandate that all employers give cost-of-living raises every year regardless of the wages provided by collective bargaining contract. That's all employers, not just larger businesses that can pass along the cost to customers or, in the case of government, to the taxpayers.

Mandate all companies with 20 or more employees provide major medical health insurance.

Allow employees to sue if they're injured on the job regardless of what they can get from worker's compensation.

Prohibit state tax credits for corporations that relocate operations outside the United States.

Increase the property tax rate on business and commercial properties to 34 percent of value. This would out-Gallagher the Gallagher Amendment of the Colorado Constitution, which currently sets business property taxes at 29 percent - roughly three times the residential rate.

Talk about running business out of Colorado!

You might speculate that the unions cannot possibly be serious, potentially killing the goose (employers) that lays the golden egg (good jobs).

To many people not tied to organized labor, coercing union dues from unwilling non-union members is simply undemocratic and even un-American. This is especially true when unions use the dough to support political campaigns that conflict with the individual worker's view.

On the other hand, Colorado has failed to enact a right to work law despite all attempts in the past. Why not wait a little longer, until the political smoke clears?

As Gov. Ritter and Sen. Salazar suggest, both sides can withdraw from battle before a real shot is fired. Perhaps business leaders will decide that discretion is the better part of valor.


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