Union organizers scare away employers

Political issue committees are popping up across the business community to fight the “onslaught of ballot measures” that are being proposed by Colorado’s union advocates. A total of 12 initiatives have so far been proposed by organized labor advocates. Voters could face an abundance of issues, including mandates for employers to provide health insurance, the elimination of the so-called at-will employment termination system, and a proposal to hold chief executives criminally responsible for corporate violations.

Title language for a competing initiative was approved this week for the so-called right-to-work initiative that would ask voters to ban mandatory union membership statewide. While Coloradans for Responsible Reform would not take a stance on the right-to-work initiative, it said it is in the beginning stages of forming a coalition to fight all of the proposed labor measures. The group is being led by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Scaring away business?

Spokeswoman Kate Horle said the issue comes down to defending a pro-business atmosphere in Colorado. She said the initiatives being proposed by organized labor advocates would likely lead to businesses packing up and leaving Colorado for a friendlier environment.

“Just the cost alone — what it will cost companies to do business in the state — will drive them out,” Horle said. “We’re already seeing job losses, a recession, rising food prices, rising gas prices. We face a terrifying future as it relates to the strength of the dollar … the fact is, we can’t lose employers in Colorado on the basis of some ballot initiatives.”

One of the groups proposing pro-labor legislation said voters should not compromise corporate accountability only for the sake of economic growth.

“These are the same people that clearly believe that a strong economic atmosphere includes allowing people to commit corporate fraud,” said Jess Knox, executive director of Protect Colorado’s Future. “If that’s the kind of economy they’re promoting, that’s bad news for Colorado.”

Two initiatives

Protect Colorado’s Future has proposed two initiatives. The first would require business executives to provide a reason for firing an employee. The second would hold corporate executives criminally responsible for not taking action to prevent wrongdoings. Knox said there is a gap in state law that prevents prosecutors from taking action on the state level.

“Right now, if an employer knows that they have a legal duty not to pollute the river, but they ignore that duty by polluting it, then they can’t be held liable for that lack of acting,” he said.

Defend our Economy is another group that is organizing against the pro-labor initiatives. The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry is leading Defend Our Economy’s efforts. The group is also pushing for the right-to-work initiative (Amendment 47), which is being spearheaded by A Better Colorado.

Joe Blake, president of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, said his opposition to the 12 proposed initiatives is about campaigning for what is best for Colorado’s economy.


“There are real consequences to these actions,” he said. “The Denver Metro Chamber and other business groups have consistently opposed ballot measures that are detrimental to Colorado’s economy … we will do so again if any of these 12 initiatives are on the ballot in November.”


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