Labor Organizing In Colorado: 3 Unions Win Big

    It’s not so easy to organize unions in Colorado, but the Teamsters got something right.

    Out of the 17 union elections that have been held since 2003, 12 have been successful. And the majority of those have been initiated by and won by three local unions, according to data from the Department of Labor.

    The International Brotherhood of Teamsters conducted four elections during the time period, which was more than any other union had participated in. They won three, but lost to a business called Ampco Systems in 2004. Other big winners include Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), which both won three elections and gained a total 191 eligible union members.

    The International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers (IBEW) wasn’t so lucky. In two back-to-back elections in 2005, the IBEW lost to the Asplundh Expert Tree Company.

    But not all labor organizing comes down to an election.

    Workers with the UNITE HERE union were recognized by Denver’s Hyatt Regency hotel in October after a majority signed union cards. A city ordinance mandated that Hyatt management be neutral to employee organizing efforts, although such situations are rare.

    Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at