Big Bedfellows perpetrate labor extortion

Related: "Big Bedfellows ripped over extortion deal"
• "Extortion subdues Colorado workers"
Big Bedfellows stories: hereMore worker-choice stories: here

Anti-corruption measure could curb Big Business, Big Labor's worst instincts

Some Republican lawmakers are calling an agreement reached last week between business and labor “extortion” and “bribery.”

The group is so outraged by the $3 million business has pledged to fight the so-called right-to-work ballot initiative that they are likening it to mob bosses like Jimmy Hoffa throwing bricks through windows for not receiving protection payment.

Republican lawmakers Rep. Amy Stephens from Colorado Springs and Sen. Mike Kopp from Littleton plan to introduce legislation next year that would make it illegal to negotiate financial deals that would impact initiatives already on the ballot.

The two lawmakers point their fingers at Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper for helping to negotiate the deal. Under the agreement, labor agreed to pull from the ballot four union-backed measures, amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57, in exchange for a $3 million campaign pledge from business leaders to help fight Amendment 47, the so-called right-to-work measure, as well as Amendments 49 and 54.

“This is the political equivalent of mob bosses threatening to throw a brick through the window of your business if you don’t give them protection money,” said Stephens.

“The unions have made no pretense since the very beginning — their initiatives were only intended as political leverage, which is extortion,” she added.

Colorado Concern

Dan Ritchie, a member of a group of business executives known as Colorado Concern, said the deal isn’t a sellout by unions or a labor squeeze on business. He simply pointed out that the initiatives would be costly and divide the state, which is why labor and business put aside separate ideologies to develop a partnership.

“Some cynics have falsely claimed that this partnership represents a ransom or a buyout, but it was neither,” said Ritchie, chairman of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. “People of good faith and good conscience came together for the betterment of Colorado.”


Supporters of the agreement also include Sage Hospitality Resources, Oakwood Homes, U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., Congressman Ed Perlmutter, D-Lakewood, Congressman Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, the Colorado Hospital Association, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Colorado Senate President Peter Groff, D-Denver, to name a few.

Most supporters praised the ability of both labor and business to come together, put away differences and work together for a solution that does not “damage Colorado.”

But Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown said he would not become a “cheerleader” for the agreement. He also supports legislation that would make it illegal to negotiate financial deals concerning ballot initiatives.

“What can damage Colorado is this dangerous precedent-setting $3 million extortion agreement that shows no faith in economically savvy Colorado voters,” he said. “At a time when there is a need to rebuild trust in government, business and labor, cynical wink-wink bargains like this do not help.”

Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver, said the agreement “raises questions about the use of ballot measures and the relative ease for monied interests to get matters on the ballot.”

Jabs backs right to work

American Furniture Warehouse chief executive Jake Jabs announced Friday that he will hold a news conference tomorrow to discuss the agreement, as well as his support for Amendment 47. Jabs began appearing in television ads on Friday offering his support for the so-called right-to-work initiative. Jabs declined to answer questions until Tuesday. Meanwhile, former State Treasurer Mark Hillman said the business-labor agreement will come back to haunt business leaders.

“These business executives consented to an extortion racket and will pay the price for years to come,” he said.

“Business leaders just purchased the ammunition for their own execution,” continued Hillman. “Labor will continue its racket of extortion and intimidation until business executives grow tired of being beaten with their own hammer or until so few of them remain that their opinion doesn’t matter.”

JeffCoGiant @ 2008-10-06 00:45:06
This is case in point why Amendment 54 is necessary -- to clean up the corruption that is going on between business, unions, government, and politicians demanding political contributions in order to grant these no-bid contracts. The last thing that these groups want is transparency. We want to know where our money is being spent and we want the corruption and the scams to stop! Vote YES on 54!


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