Ex-DP editor lashes Colorado union thugs

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

But the Denver Post is now a pro-union organ

In a less complicated world, there wouldn't be seven measures on the Colorado ballot dealing with union issues. There would be just one, asking voters if they wished to enlarge or diminish the power and influence of labor unions.

That question is at the heart of each of the labor-related ballot issues, whether those issues were sponsored by labor unions or by business groups.

It shouldn't be a tough question. Last November, Gov. Bill Ritter set things in motion by issuing an ill-considered executive order essentially inviting the unionization of state workers. Did he really believe there wouldn't be a reaction to what was a transparent usurpation of legislative authority?

As he hoped, the Democrat- controlled General Assembly did subsequently bypass every opportunity to assume its rightful role as policymaker, and thus the voters of Colorado are presented with a rerun of the Shootout at the OK Corral. This time it is labor unions versus business — and versus the taxpayers.

Unless something dramatic happens in the next few days to remove one or more of the ballot measures, voters will have to decide the individual fate of seven labor-related measures.

Some of them are willfully pernicious and even dangerous. One would create a legal cause of action for any worker dismissed for something other than "just cause." The only people who could reasonably support such a notion would be trial lawyers and union organizers.

Another would impose health care requirements on small employers (20 or more employees) that might well sink some of those firms. These two measures, along with two others that are just as bad, are on the ballot for only one reason: to remind the sponsors of Amendment 47 (the right to work law) that two can play the ballot initiative game. Unions are saying to business that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

A misnamed group of labor organizations called Protect Colorado's Future is pushing the anti-business measures and paying for misleading ads opposing the right to work measure and two others designed to limit the political power of labor unions, especially unions in government.

The ads wrongly suggest that a vote for the three anti- union ballot issues is somehow a vote against the right of firefighters to organize and bargain collectively. This is nonsense. Police and firefighters and teachers and other labor groups have long had the power to unionize. There is nothing on the ballot this year that will affect existing contracts or others like them.

The issue this year is whether to put reasonable limits on the future growth of labor organizations and whether to restrict the ability of public employee unions to collect dues and increase their political influence.

Gov. Ritter started a fight on behalf of labor unions and now those same unions want to pretend they are just a bunch of ordinary workers with no real appetite for union power.

In politics, timing is everything, and it may be that the presidential contest and uncertain state of the U.S. economy will lessen interest in the Colorado ballot issues. It would be sad if that turns out to be the case. Given the political standoff that has developed over the last two years, it is no wonder that the only thing business and labor can readily agree on is that each has a reason to be nervous.


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