Gazette endorses Amendment 47, bungles basic labor facts

Colorado Springs’ conservative-leaning daily, The Gazette, penned a Sunday endorsement of Amendment 47, a measure that seeks to restrict the way unions organize in the state. But while the endorsement is really not so surprising, the way the paper justified its position is, with statements that are completely inaccurate.


The Gazette announced its endorsement, using “facts” that are, well, just plain wrong:

Often we hear that Colorado’s a "right to work" state, or an "at will" state, in which employers and employees work with each other on a private and voluntary basis, and nobody is forced to join a union.


It’s not true. In Colorado, unions can force a person to join in order to get or keep a job. It’s called a "closed shop" arrangement, and it’s not always in the best interest of employees.

Actually, under current federal law no worker can be forced to join a union. It’s illegal.


There was a time when unions could negotiate such “closed shops,” but that was before the Taft-Hartley Act banned them in 1947, more than 60 years ago.


Whoops.


The Gazette goes on:

It’s unthinkable that some workers are paying their wages, through extortion, to causes they may not believe in. It’s worse to imagine they’re paying for causes they vehemently oppose.




How do unions get away with it? Through the mandatory membership afflorded (sic) them in the "closed shop" arrangement.


Again, since “closed shops” have been banned, it’s simply not possible that unions have been legally implementing them in Colorado.


Simply put, Amendment 47 would turn Colorado into a "right-to-work" state, making it illegal for labor unions to negotiate agreements that collect dues or agency fees from nonmember employees who receive union-negotiated benefits in the workplace.  No worker is forced to join a union.

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 erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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