The Ritter/AFL-CIO T

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean met with AFL-CIO President John Sweeney two weeks ago to start a dialog about labor issues concerning the convention, however Gov. Bill Ritter had a previous engagement out of state and was unable to attend. On Tuesday, Ritter sat down with Sweeney to begin discussions in earnest not only regarding the convention, but other issues concerning unions in Colorado.From the Washington Post:

Ritter said he and Sweeney discussed the lack of union workers at area hotels, problems over contracts with stage hands and the temporary use of union labor at the main convention venue, the Pepsi Center.

They also discussed Ritter’s decision to veto a bill that would have made it easier to form union shops. The Democratic governor said he made no commitments other than to continue talks with unions.

Denver’s bid for the 2008 convention nearly collapsed because the leader of the stagehands union balked at signing a pledge not to strike if the convention were held at the Pepsi Center, where the work force is not unionized.

A compromise was negotiated to staff the Pepsi Center entirely with union labor for the duration of the convention.

“I really am very optimistic that not just the hotel issue, but that many of these issues that relate directly to the convention, that every effort will be made to resolve them and I’d like to focus on that and not talk about what if,” Sweeney said.

AFL-CIO in Colorado has also been embroiled in an internal disagreement and recently Sweeney had terminated the state’s AFL-CIO President Steve Adams and Secretary-Treasurer Paul Mendrick from their elected posts. There are about 90,000 union members in the state.

Contrary to the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union Local 105 has expressed their support of the convention and of Ritter for his signature on health care bills. The national SEIU was one of the early supporters of Howard Dean when he ran for president in 2004 and defected from the AFL-CIO about a year later.

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Leslie Robinson

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