CDOT “Partnership” Success Begs Questions about Ritter Order

The Pueblo Chieftain‘s Charles Ashby reports (H/T Mike Saccone) that Gov. Bill Ritter and the Democrats are trotting out a Republican state department chief as safe cover for his executive order:

A Republican Cabinet member in Gov. Bill Ritter’s administration already has found the governor’s plan to “partner” with state workers beneficial to running his de- partment.

But Russell George, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, would have done that anyway, the former GOP House speaker said.

“It’s very much in my nature to want to know the people I work with,” said George, who previously was head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources under former Gov. Bill Owens. “So, as I got here, I would have worked out some arrangement anyway. This is what I’ve done in the past.”

To George, it makes little difference that Ritter wants all of his departments to create formalized “partnership agreements” with state workers, which allow them to form or join unions to negotiate on their behalf.

The point, Ritter and George said, is to help state government operate more efficiently.

But the story begs the question (several times over): If George was able (as many managers do) to establish a “partnership” with employees in his department before Ritter issued his order, why was the order needed? How does setting up unions as “exclusive representatives” of state employees – which Ritter’s order authorizes – enhance the relationship between management and employees? Couldn’t Ritter have instructed his department heads to follow George’s model of building partnerships without contracting out to third-party private labor unions?

More questions are begged of the reporter who wrote the story, such as: Where’s the other side of this story? (Or the other story today by Ashby, that cites alleged poor management at the state mental hospital as something that would be remedied by giving unions the status of exclusive representative. But this story begs similar questions – questions left unexplored and unanswered.)

Yet instead of having an open debate on these matters, Ritter signed the new policy into effect by fiat. And now it looks like he is doing some serious PR repair duty. Meanwhile, Coloradans await the tough but obvious questions from reporters.

Leave a Reply