Update, 9:30 AM: AFL-CIO press release in response to Ritter’s SB 180 veto pasted below the fold. Also, Amy Oliver notes that several legislators from northern Colorado went against the will of the people in voting for SB 180 — having benefited from thousands in labor campaign contributions.
Yesterday I gave Governor Bill Ritter kudos for the veto of SB 180. Today’s Denver Post follow-up by Lynn Bartels is headlined with the statement that Rep. Edward Casso and organized labor interests see the decision as a “tipping point”.
It could be my imagination, but I got the impression from reading the story that Ritter essentially is saying something like this to the unions:
So yeah, I have this penchant of making a wide spectrum of different groups really mad at me. But you guys are labor, and I’m a Democrat. Where are you going to go? I had a better chance of creating an open enemy in the Chambers of Commerce and the Municipal League, so I decided to keep them happy. Go ahead. Deal with it for now. I may try to find a way to make it up to you later. But if not, what will you do about it? Seriously?
In other words, Bill Ritter’s decision to veto SB 180 was good policy, but promoting good policy may not have been his primary motivation. But is it a dare? How far will he go before Big Labor takes him up on it?
Honestly, though, it’s hard to figure out. Was Bill Ritter really indecisive about this issue enough to wait to the last minute to make his intentions known? Was he waiting for something to change his mind? Why string along the labor unions?
From the standpoint of good politics it doesn’t make sense, even if the final outcome prevented bad policy.
A press release sent out by the Colorado AFL-CIO late yesterday that I missed:
â€œOn behalf of the unions of The Colorado AFL-CIO, I want to express my tremendous disappointment with Governor Ritter for his veto of Senate Bill 180. This veto is an outright rejection of the most basic, core value of our movement â€“ the right of all workers to have a voice on the job through collective bargaining,â€ stated Dwayne Stephens President of the Colorado AFL-CIO.
The Fire Fighter and Law Enforcement Officer Collective Bargaining Act (SB180) would have helped local governmental agencies and public safety personnel come together to address and solve workplace challenges in a cooperative and productive manner, promoting more effective and efficient delivery of emergency services during times of both economic difficulties and prosperity. Senate Bill 180 would have enabled dues-paying union firefighters the option to achieve the same, full collective bargaining rights enjoyed by a majority of Coloradoâ€™s union members.
There has been much speculation about how the veto of Senate Bill 180 paired with the vetoes of House Bill 1170 (Unemployment Benefits for Locked-out Workers – 2009) and House Bill 1072 (Repeal of the Colorado Labor Peace Act â€“ 2007) would impact Governor Ritterâ€™s relationship with Coloradoâ€™s Labor Movement. Over the coming months, Colorado AFL-CIO leaders will be conducting private discussions amongst affiliate unions to determine how to proceed in its future relations with the Ritter Administration.
â€œWeâ€™re going to have to take a hard look at where we stand with Governor Ritter. Our hope has always been to forge a better working relationship with him, but weâ€™ll have to discuss with our affiliates how
the vetoes impact how we move forward.â€ stated Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Director Mike Cerbo.
The veto of Senate Bill 180 hangs a dark cloud over what could have been a very productive legislative session in 2009. AFL-CIO affiliates made strides in finding new ways to partner and collaborate with the Ritter Administration. Issues such as Ballot Initiative Reform (HB 326), Worker Misclassification Reform (HB 1310), and Unemployment Insurance Modernization (SB 247) all passed the legislature and
were signed into law. Unfortunately, Governor Ritter did not take the same collaborative approach on Senate Bill 180, which has caused frustration amongst AFL-CIO leaders who worry this veto may overshadow the other good work done this session.
â€œGovernor Ritter should have brought the right people together to make an honest attempt to work through his concerns on this bill. There was never a willingness on his part to engage in any meaningful
discussion. This basic lack of effort makes the veto very hard to swallow,â€ said Cerbo.
Stay tuned as the drama unfolds.
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