Labor-business alliance pledges to kill three anti-union measures

Unions and business groups in the state announced today the formation of a massive joint campaign against three anti-union initiatives on the state ballot, following an agreement by labor to pull four other ballot questions that would have strictly regulated business practices in the state.

A coalition consisting of the AFL-CIO union federation, the Teamsters and the United Food and Commercial Workers announced today that they would remove four initiatives from the ballot, following an 11th-hour deal between the labor groups and large businesses like Oakwood Homes, a real estate firm, and hospital operator HealthOne.

The deadline to pull the initiatives was today, Oct. 2.

In return, businesses will do whatever it takes to defeat three anti-union measures that are still on the ballot, and they have pledged at least $3 million toward the effort.

One initiative that will be targeted by the joint-campaign effort is Amendment 47, a “right-to-work” effort that would restrict the way unions organize and negotiate in the state. The other two ballot measures, Amendments 49 and 54, would prohibit certain unions from giving to political campaigns and restrict the way organized labor retains dues from state employees.

Gov. Bill Ritter also confirmed today on a media conference call that he would play an active and public role in the campaign, claiming that he had already started to make phone calls soliciting donations from opponents of the anti-union measures.

Labor agreed to pull four measures: Amendment 53, which would have made corporate executives criminally liable for certain offenses committed by their companies; Amendment 55, which would have required businesses to provide a “just cause” for firing an employee; Amendment 56, which would have made certain businesses provide health care to employees; and Amendment 57, which would have given workers stronger legal recourse in cases of workplace injuries.

Because ballots are already starting to be printed, the retracted labor-backed initiatives will appear on the ballot as questions, but they will not be counted in the statewide election.

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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