Memo to Colorado Lawmakers: Collective Bargaining in Government Different than in Private Business

Slipping under the radar late in Colorado's legislative session (sine die is tomorrow, hallelujah!) is House Bill 1320 -- sponsored by two conservative Republicans, Rep. Janak Joshi and Sen. Bill Cadman -- a rare two-page piece of legislation that would essentially outlaw collective bargaining in state and local governments. It's not going to pass, and concerned citizens and political observers rightfully are paying attention to Colorado's redistricting debate instead, so it's not worth expending too many pixels. However, I found the apparent reason for HB 1320 being held up on the House floor a bit disheartening -- albeit not surprising, given the unimpressive record of the new Republican majority:Rep. Keith Swerdfeger, R-Pueblo West, … [Read more...]

FOX 31 FAIR AND BALANCED ON EDUCATION? We Report, You Decide

Originally posted at Colorado Peak Politics. Re-posted here with permission. As author, I am solely responsible for the content. Local FOX 31 Denver News and reporter Eli Stokols are to be commended for wanting to look at the effects of K-12 education spending cuts and innovative ideas for addressing the challenge. But the first edition of the televised series cries out for context and correction. First of all, it's important to stress that yes, for the past couple years Colorado schools have been experiencing real budget cuts -- after years of steady increases in per-pupil funding. And of course, the cuts will have an impact, albeit an impact that can be heavily mitigated and overcome in the long run by re-thinking how our school system … [Read more...]

Aurora Citizens Denied: Colorado Springs Not State’s Only Front in Push for Open Government Negotiations

In a time when a large fiscally conservative grassroots movement like the Tea Parties have developed a strong voice, we shouldn't be surprised to see calls for greater transparency in government operations. Not only when it comes to the fiscal ledger ("if you can't defend it, don't spend it"), but also when it comes to those union negotiations that drive so much of government spending. Should any government contract negotiations be done behind closed doors? Why should unions be treated any differently? In Colorado Springs a citizen lawsuit has pressured one of the state's largest school districts to concede to opening up one teachers union bargaining session to public observation. (Decisions on future sessions pending... most likely on … [Read more...]

Supreme Court Campaign Case Pits Colorado Ethics Watch vs. Colorado Education Association

This little tidbit I uncovered either shatters the grand Colorado Democracy Alliance (CoDA) conspiracy theory or proves it to be even more convoluted and diabolical than previously imagined. But court documents show two of the Alliance's core groups -- sue-happy Colorado Ethics Watch (CEW) and the Colorado Education Association (CEA), the state's largest teachers union -- on opposite ends of a state supreme court case regarding elections law. Back in 2008 CEW filed suit against a couple of Republican 527 groups (Senate Majority Fund LLC and Colorado Leadership Fund LLC) claiming that they had overstepped the bounds of campaign finance law by participating in "express advocacy" of state legislative candidates. The administrative law judge … [Read more...]

A New Way to Contact Elected Officials; A Solution for Grassroots Apathy?

Efforts to organize constituent groups to contact and lobby their elected officials have grown more sophisticated in recent years. Many of us like the ease of the online petition that automatically directs messages to our representatives based on our input location data -- though I frequently prefer to tailor the pre-fab messages with my own words. I can't be the only one who has subjected myself to an onslaught of email messages urging me to call my Congressman or state senator over the latest hideously outrageous or earth-saving piece of legislation. A result of the sheer volume of these messages, combined with limited resources and competing priorities, my eyes long since have glazed over most of them. Have I become too cynical? … [Read more...]

Numbers Show Government Employees Top Private Sector Counterparts in Colorado’s Union Membership

It looks very much like Colorado is only one year behind in achieving a labor movement milestone measured at the national level. A little over a year ago I reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finding that government employees represented a numerical majority of the unionized workforce in the United States. (You can listen to a 2010 iVoices podcast on this finding that I recorded with the Alliance for Worker Freedom.) This milestone is the culmination of a decades-long trend in which private sector unions have diminished while Big Labor has targeted government agencies as fruitful sources of revenue. As of 2010, we have the first strong indications that the same observation can be made of Colorado -- namely, that more of the … [Read more...]

Taxpayers Push Back, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Goes Bold, Unions Raise Ruckus, Democrat Senators Run Away

Update II, 4:05 PM: Writing on the Townhall blog, Guy Benson offers up some exclusive video footage of the Wisconsin Democrat senators running away. John Hayward at Human Events offers some fascinating insights and concludes with a bit of powerful advice: "Governor Walker should take a page from the handbook of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and face the unions down. Every teacher who participated in the illegal strike, or brought students to political rallies, should be fired immediately. The taxpayers of Wisconsin don’t have Hollywood celebrities and millionaire union bosses to brew up angry mobs to press their demands. They don’t have the luxury of slipping away from jobs they’re already nervous about to march around the state … [Read more...]

Weld County School Board Challenged for Taking On Local Union Prerogatives

Colorado is an interesting place for education reform, for many reasons. Among them are issues related to teacher professional membership and representation: In Colorado, public school teachers have a right to join or not join (and not pay fees to) a union or other professional membership organization. In Colorado, elected school boards are not obligated to enter a collective bargaining relationship with teachers or other employees. In Colorado, no state laws define collective bargaining for government workers, nor any of the related procedures and guidelines. In Colorado, school districts with active collective bargaining agreements are required to post them online (and have them available in the school office) for transparency and … [Read more...]

Colorado Education Association Members Can Get EMO Political Refunds Until December 15 Deadline

Spend 99.9% of member dues political funds on Democrats over Republicans (at a 50% success rate for the most heavily funded candidates)? Check. Give $250,000 in member funds to the 527 group Accountability for Colorado, with a track record of negative political smears -- a group denounced by candidates in both parties and by Denver Post columnist Vince Carroll for maliciously distorting the truth? Check. Remember: The deadline to request the Every Member Option political refund is December 15. CEA members can go directly here to make an online request of the $39 refund. To find out more information, including on local union refunds, visit the Independent Teachers web site. … [Read more...]

Non-Union State Employee Closes Up Tongue-in-Cheek ColoradoLoses

Today marks the end of an era. The state employee who started the non-union group ColoradoLoses as an answer to Colorado WINS, the union coalition outgoing Governor Bill Ritter invited into Denver by executive order in 2007. Dave Ohmart posted the announcement on his website earlier today:I am shutting ColoradoLoses down. Thaks so much for the support you showed me over the past two and a half years. WINS will be shutting down too, I believe. They have lost support and are near bankruptcy. I don't have any independent information to confirm or challenge Dave's assessment and prediction. But it's important to note that Colorado WINS (a joint coalition of SEIU, AFSCME and AFT) did gain its semi-exalted bargaining position, after … [Read more...]