Health Care Proposal Could Spell Trouble For Right To Work Initiative

Could a proposed initiative requiring businesses to pay for employee health insurance derail another proposed ballot measure that would make Colorado a “right to work” state?The health care proposal, which is sponsored by postal worker Charles Bader, may force the business community to choose between supporting a ballot question making it harder for unions to organize or opposing a ballot measure that would make companies cover health insurance costs for employees and their dependents.

The logic goes that both initiatives will require funding from members of the business community, and there are only so many financial resources to go around.

If the health care proposal is approved by the state’s Legislative Council and obtains the required number of petition signatures to be put on the ballot, business leaders opposing the plan could face a costly campaign.

According to a February poll of Colorado voters conducted by Rasmussen Reports, 11 percent said that health care is the most important national issue. There’s also the matter of how clearly the insurance initiative is worded; it is comparatively simpler than the confusing language of the right to work initiative.

Tony Gagliardi, a spokesman with the Colorado chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), an organization that represents an estimated 7,500 members throughout the state, says that his group would “probably support” the right to work initiative, but that the Colorado NFIB “adamantly opposes” the proposed health care change.

While Gagliardi says it’s too early to speculate about how the two proposals might interact with each other, he notes a recent poll of NFIB members showed that approximately 90 percent opposed required health coverage, while only more than 50 percent supported the right to work initiative.

Charles Bader, the son of a union official with the Teamsters local 17 connected to the Colorado AFL-CIO, is sponsoring the health care plan, sparking hearsay that the measure is being backed by labor supporters to diminish support for right to work while expanding insurance coverage.

Bader Jr. and the Colorado AFL-CIO did not return requests for comments regarding the initiatives.

Correction: This article originally reported Teamsters official Charles Bader was sponsoring the initiative. However, it is actually his son, also named Charles Bader, that is supporting the ballot proposal.

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

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