Teamster cards create fear, confusion

Collectivizing in uncharted territory

A local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has collected about 1,100 signatures from Denver city employees who want collective bargaining power. The Teamsters, Local 17, which already has about 800 city employees as members, plans to submit the signatures to City Council President Michael Hancock next week, said Ed Bagwell, a union organizer. But it's unclear what will happen next.

The city attorney's office has said that the council doesn't have the authority to grant collective bargaining power and that the decision rests with voters.

The Teamsters disagree.

They say a voter-approved charter change in 2003 opened the door to empowering the council to approve collective bargaining.

Bagwell said the matter could end up in court.

Even though about 7,400 employees are eligible, Bagwell said, many employees declined to sign the petition because they face "underlying pressures" on a daily basis.

"There's an undercurrent of fear of signing anything that will get you into trouble," he said Tuesday morning after Mayor John Hickenlooper delivered his fifth annual State of the City address.


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