A state advocacy group of conservative Democrats is stepping into the fray between business interests and unions by taking a position opposing labor-backed ballot measures that would provide workers injured on the job with stronger legal rights and require employers to state a “just cause” for firing an employee.
The Colorado Democratic Leadership Council, a local affiliate of the national Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) famous for backing business-oriented Democrats and deriding populist positions in the party, has endorsed a campaign by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce to defeat four union-supported measures that are currently on the state ballot.
On a chamber campaign Web site that tells visitors to “Vote No On Poison Pill Amendments,” the council is listed at the top of the endorsement list.
“We just don’t think that they should be decided on the ballot,” says Jim Gibson, president of the Colorado council. “Those issues should be deliberated on and considered in the legislature.”
Gibson notes that his group is also opposing Amendment 47, an anti-union measure that is considered to be the reason why labor submitted the ballot measures to begin with.
Amendment 47 would restrict the way labor groups organize and negotiate in the state, by banning collective bargaining agreements between unions and businesses that require minimal agency fees from nonmember employees who receive union-negotiated benefits in the workplace.
The council does not represent the Democratic Party in any official capacity, but Gibson has been involved with the DLC since the early 1990s. He has worked with Bill Clinton and praises the North American Free Trade Agreement, legislation that is considered “poison pill” in its own right by labor unions for its lax workers’ rights regulations.
Labor has sponsored four ballot measures this year — Amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57 — that would give employees greater legal recourse when injured on the job or fired, require certain employers to provide health insurance and make corporate executives criminally liable for acts of fraud committed by their businesses.
The Denver chamber believes the union measures would create a disastrous business climate in Colorado, and has so far spent a total of $2.2 million opposing the amendments, according to records with the secretary of state’s office.
Union supporters of the measures did not wish to comment publicly on the state Democratic council’s endorsement of the chamber campaign.