More Unions Jockeying to Get a Piece of State Employee Action

From this week’s edition of the always insightful & entertaining Education Intelligence Agency Communique:

2) Colorado Public Employees Union Hooks Up with CWA. Organized labor in Colorado is about to become very volatile.

The dust has yet to settle from Gov. Bill Ritter’s executive order establishing “partnerships” between state agencies and labor unions, which is clearly the prelude to public sector collective bargaining. The plans of Colorado WINS, a coalition of SEIU, AFSCME and AFT, are in evidence in the new organization’s founding documents, first released exclusively by EIA on November 19.

But Colorado WINS will have some competition. The formerly AFT-affiliated Colorado Federation of Public Employees has dissolved and reformed itself as the Colorado Public Employee Alliance, affiliated with the Communication Workers of America (CWA).

The national affiliation will prevent Colorado WINS from squashing its rivals like a bug, and has the potential to cause even more problems. The establishment of Colorado WINS is a national agreement between two AFL-CIO unions and one Change to Win union. CWA is also an AFL-CIO union, and a juridictional dispute such as this one is bound to get bounced upstairs to national AFL-CIO. It could get ugly.

And while the Colorado media has generally been pretty good on the political ramifications of the new union role, I don’t think there is a labor reporter left in the state, so the internal union drama is largely going unnoticed.

Lest we forget, the labor unions are re-aligning and coalescing because Gov. Bill Ritter’s November 2 executive order has empowered them to organize and collect funds from state workers. Sure, Ritter and his team have tried time and again to reassure the public that the order’s “employee partnerships” are merely a way to find greater efficiency and productivity in state government. But not so many are buying that line. The timing of the order, has been assailed by the Denver Post and by many other Colorado newspapers. More recent revelations have shown that the order was crafted and released according to union leaders’ concerns about organization and re-alignment.

In spite of apparently conflicting opinions concerning whether Gov. Ritter’s order has authorized collective bargaining, union leaders have wasted no time in showing their eagerness to form coalitions to organize state workers.

Whether Ritter acted out of deception or ignorance, his order has emboldened and strengthened the hands of a special interest group – political allies and supporters. What’s coming next doesn’t promise to be good for Colorado’s taxpaying citizens.

Leave a Reply