The first big line in the sand this year for Colorado’s selected U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and not-so-senior partner Mark Udall was the vote in favor of the massive federal spending (so-called “stimulus”) bill.
Next on the docket is the poorly-named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would take away employee secret ballots in workplace election and impose costly binding arbitration procedures.
Which brings us to an interesting Karen Crummy article in today’s Denver Post, that pretty well shapes up a major part of the changing political dynamics in our state:
Unions soaked Colorado with $25 million in campaign contributions last year, winning victories on two of three ballot measures and backing state candidates to ensure the legislature remained in Democratic control.
Contributions to state-level races from labor unions dwarfed those from the business community by a ratio of more than 2-to-1, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics. And the $25 million was almost four times the amount spent by unions in Colorado’s previous four elections combined.
“Labor is re-energized,” said professor John M. Holcomb, who teaches business, public policy and ethics at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business. “I would expect to see unions mobilize even more money into Colorado and add more pressure (on politicians).”
Will Michael Bennet kowtow to the pressure, follow the Democrat party line, and vote for Big Labor’s EFCA card-check bill, too? Or – unlike the massive spending boondoggle – will he show some independent backbone? When it comes to EFCA, he might want to listen to the likes of George McGovern, Al Sharpton, Labor Department official Ariella Bernstein, and dozens of other influential voices.
Yesterday researchers unveiled the latest state-by-state breakdown of union membership statistics, taken from federal labor department data released a couple weeks ago. Colorado’s union membership in both the public and private sectors is stagnant.
Labor leaders hope that EFCA will stem the decline of private-sector union membership – here in Colorado and nationwide. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with their end, but the means of using coercive government procedures is the wrong way to go. Government shouldn’t bail out failing businesses, and it shouldn’t bail out failing labor unions.
While in the House, Mark Udall was a cynical co-sponsor of EFCA, so it’s hard to see him challenging union bosses.
At least there’s a shred of hope that Michael Bennet might vote on the right side. With a growing primary threat from former state house speaker Andrew Romanoff, however, the decision whether to buck Big Labor will be all that much harder for the greenhorn Senator.