4/30/08

Unions try to quash vote on worker-choice

The fight over Right to Work is under way. Dozens of Amendment 47 opponents spent Tuesday going through enormous stacks of signatures at a union house in Denver.

"We believe that, with a more careful or more extensive examination of each record, that we will be able to provide the secretary of state with substantial evidence of fraud and potential criminal activity," said Jess Knox, spokesman for Protect Colorado's Future.

Supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment learned Monday that Secretary of State Mike Coffman had certified their petitions, giving them a spot on the Nov. 4 ballot.

That success was quickly met with claims that errors were committed during the petition drive.

"To me it's a clear indication that the unions will do everything they can to keep Amendment 47 off the ballot because they know as well as we do that voters will pass it in November," said Kelley Harp of A Better Colorado, suporters of 47.

Harp said Jonathan Coors and others wanted to move now to prevent lawmakers, where Democrats hold the legislature and the governor's mansion, from creating union-friendly laws.

"The political climate is such in Colorado that basic worker rights might be in danger in the near and prolonged future," said Harp. "We're concerned about the erosion of basic worker rights. We've seen indications that the current situation in Colorado is under attack."

Amendment 47 would prohibit mandatory union membership and payment of dues.

Harp said Colorado currently has a hybrid version of Right to Work laws that can be used to prevent those practices but that an amendment to the state constitution would guarentee those protections.

"This is just part of the corporate agenda. It's a corporate agenda that allows Exxon to make $11 billion in one quarter while we're struggling to pay $3 a gallon of gas," said Ernest Duran, president of the Food Workers Union.

He called it the Right to Work For Less initiative.

Duran points to our neighbor to the north in Wyoming where laws similar to Amendment 47 are already in effect.

Duran said he represents grocery workers there who make less than counterparts in Colorado.

"Same work, same corporation, the workers there make over $3 an hour less," Duran said.

Duran said his union alone, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, has decided to spend plenty on advertising and voter outreach.

"They have allocated over $16 million to this fight," Duran said.

He also believes five pro-labor initiatives are in the process of being sent to the secretary of state for inclusion on the ballot

Opponents of 47 say they will spend three days going through the signatures before deciding on a next course of action.

"What we're very happy to report is the support to defeat this very divisive measure is extensive. They come from all walks of life, all sorts of different organizations. It pits neighbor against neighbor and communities against each other," said Knox.

Knox said by May 28 he expects to have enough information to take the issue to challenge it in a Denver courtroom.

Harp, with A Better Colorado, said that's what supporters expected and that they'll be ready.

(thedenverchannel.com)

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