Colorado pro-labor groups to submit ballot petitions

The deadline to submit petitions to put an initiative on the 2008 state ballot is approaching, and union-friendly groups are starting to turn in signatures for their proposals, making a full-fledged political brawl between business and labor interests seem almost inevitable this election season.

Protect Colorado’s Future, a campaign supported by unions and other advocacy groups, announced today that it will be submitting signatures to the secretary of state’s office to approve a corporate crime measure that would hold executives criminally liable for companies that break the law.

The group is also planning to turn in signatures on Thursday for another initiative that would require employers to provide just cause for firing certain employees.

A campaign by the local United Food and Commercial Workers union is also expected to turn in signatures next week for two ballot proposals. One would give employees injured on the job stronger legal rights against their employers, and the other would require companies with more than 20 employees to provide health-care coverage.

All three measures result from an attempt by certain business interests in the state to restrict the way unions organize, through Amendment 47, a proposal that has been approved for the ballot and would make it illegal for labor unions to negotiate agreements to collect dues or agency fees from nonmember employees who receive union-negotiated benefits in the workplace.

Under federal law, no employee is required to join a union, but Amendment 47 has already succeeded in provoking a number of countermeasures from labor, including the four initiatives that will soon be submitted for state approval.

Another measure targeting unions was also certified for the ballot on Thursday. The proposal, Amendment 49, would bar automatic union dues deductions from public employee payrolls.

The deadline to turn in petition signatures is Aug. 4.

Read our continuing coverage on the dueling Colorado labor ballot initiatives from right-to-work and worker advocacy groups.

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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