So today the AFL-CIO has officially threatened Governor Bill Ritter with throwing its weight around to move the Democratic National Convention from Denver, just because the Governor vetoed HB 1072. A bill Ritter once described as “not a big deal” is certainly much more than that to labor union leaders. Here is the statement in full:
AFL-CIO Executive Council Statement
March 8, 2007
Las Vegas, NV
COLORADOâ€™S WORKING FAMILIES
For a decade, working families in Colorado have fought to build a stronger, more unified labor movement and create a more balanced political and economic environment â€“ an environment responsive to working peopleâ€™s needs and concerns. This extraordinary effort has produced significant progress and potential on many levels. Colorado labor is rightfully proud of helping elect working family-friendly majorities in the state House as well as the Senate and replacing a Governor hostile to workers with one who promised to stand with workers.
The reality revealed by recent events, however, is sobering and unacceptable.
After the Colorado state legislature struggled to produce a major breakthrough for workers by voting to amend the Colorado Labor Peace Act, Gov. Bill Ritter turned his back on workers and the values of his own party by vetoing this long-sought reform.
The legislature is to be commended for championing issues important to the lives and futures of Coloradoâ€™s working families. But Gov. Ritterâ€™s actions deserve our strongest condemnation.
Gov. Ritter publicly supported the reform legislation while running for office and actively seeking the support of Coloradoâ€™s working families. His veto at the behest of moneyed interests is a betrayal of the working men and women who devoted countless hours to help elect him by going door-to-door, working in phone banks, passing out leaflets at worksites to mobilize their co-workers and showing up on election day to vote for him.
Gov. Ritter also broke faith with the legislators in his own party who supported the Labor Peace Act amendment.
This betrayal weakens the prospects of all working people. We are united in denouncing it, and we will take immediate action to reverse it.
As a first step in supporting the Colorado labor movement, the AFL-CIO Executive Council will send a top-level delegation to meet with Gov. Ritter to discuss this and other issues of crucial importance to working families in Colorado.
We intend to pass the legislation again and secure a clear commitment from the Governor to sign it.
We will also ask the legislature and the Governor to commit to move ahead with other actions to strengthen the voices of Colorado working families, address their economic insecurity and take on the Colorado health care crisis.
We call upon Gov. Ritter to demonstrate that he is in fact committed to working families and the issues important to them by immediately appointing a labor liaison representative to his cabinet so the voice of workers and their unions is heard in the highest levels of state government.
Finally, the AFL-CIO Executive Council recognizes that the attention of the American people will be focused on Denver and the state of Colorado as they prepare to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Union members and working people will make up more than a quarter of the delegates to the Denver convention. These delegates and working Americans across the country will be looking in the months ahead to see whether Gov. Ritter supports working families. Unless we can be assured that the Governor will support our values and priorities, we will strongly urge the Democratic Party to relocate the convention.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council asks that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to Gov. Howard Dean, Chair of the Democratic National Party; Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Chair of the Democratic Governorsâ€™ Association; Senator Joan FitzGerald, Colorado Senate Pro Tempore and Chair of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee; Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff; Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper; and the Honorable Elma Wedgeworth, Chair of the Denver Democratic National Convention Host Committee.
My favorite line? “Gov. Ritter publicly supported the reform legislation while running for office….” We’re still waiting to see where in the record this was promised. The proverbial smoke-filled back rooms of union headquarters should not be considered a venue for expressing public support.
The question is: What will Ritter do in response to this delegation’s demands? I don’t know, but it sure is fun to watch the rift grow among Colorado Democrats, at least from this seat in the house.
It sure helps to make for a great weekend!