No-bid collective bargaining

More Clean Government stories: here • Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

The 'anti-corruption' measure will be fought by special interests

Amendment 54, one of two statewide ballot measures to pass in November, was labeled during the election cycle as "anti-union." But its passage is forcing businesses such as Denver law firm Grimshaw & Harring PC to take steps to ensure they are in compliance with the measure.

"As a director of this law firm, I'm prohibited from giving campaign contributions to any campaign or candidate," said Matthew Dalton, a Grimshaw shareholder. Grimshaw is affected by the measure because the firm holds no-bid contracts with hundreds of special districts, including at least one that exceeds $100,000 annually.

Amendment 54 prohibits political campaign contributions from an organization that receives no-bid government contracts totaling more than $100,000 annually. Any person who holds at least a 10 percent stake in the organization is also barred from contributing to a campaign or funneling a donation through an immediate family member.

The measure is viewed as "union-busting" because it classifies collective-bargaining agreements as no-bid contracts.

Amendment 54 proponents have said it would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by encouraging competitive bidding for government contracts.

The scope of the measure will probably be the basis of a lawsuit from a coalition of interest groups that claims the measure is unconstitutional because it infringes on First Amendment free-speech rights.

"There are a great number of groups, including businesses, nonprofits, labor organizations and community groups, that are concerned," said attorney Mark Grueskin, who represented a coalition of unions during this year's election.

Dalton said he expects a legal challenge would be successful "because of the breadth of the effect."

Amendment 54 chairman Tom Lucero said companies and stakeholders can continue to participate in the political process by dropping their no-bid contracts.

"Nobody is forcing them to enter into a no-bid contract," Lucero said.

He said the measure prohibits contributions to all candidates because Colorado is a steppingstone state where elected officials often advance to higher office.

The secretary of state's office has until Nov. 28 to certify the results of the measure, which narrowly passed. It would take effect Dec. 31, barring a temporary injunction.


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