Chamber board passes employer rights resolution

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To represent its members, the business owners of Moffat County, the Craig Chamber of Commerce passed a resolution to support all cases of employer rights at its meeting Thursday.

Chamber Executive Director Christina Currie brought news to the Chamber board of a labor rights fight brewing in Denver.

Union leaders are lobbying for labor protection legislation, Currie said, and others are pressing for amendments to the state Constitution, some of which would make Colorado a "right to work" state.

That would mean no one may be forced to join a union at any job, a measure Chamber board members favored.

"If those employees vote to unionize, I'm not opposed to that," Chamber board member Jeannie Thornberry said. "But I don't think business owners should be forced by laws to do things we're already trying to do."

Thornberry referred to talk of requiring businesses to provide health insurance or mandatory employee wage increases.

"With insurance," she said, "that's something we try to give (employees). It's not that we don't want to give them that, but, as a small business, we tried but it's hard" to afford.

Although the board decided to oppose issues that "tie the hands of business owners and takes how they run their business out of their hands," as the board's resolution read, members did not reach a final conclusion specifically on their stance for unions.

Members said they supported employees forming unions but did not support mandatory unions. However, that language was never made into a resolution.

Some board members commented that actions to strengthen unions at the state level likely are happening because the union era is coming to an end.

"I thought unions were somehow on the failing side," board member Gail Severson said. "Is this a last ditch effort to save unions?"

Currie answered her: "Yes, it is."

Board member Joe Bird recommended the Chamber stay out of union debates because, "the unions are doing a pretty good job screwing themselves."

After the meeting, Currie said the board will address union issues on a case-by-case basis as legislation is proposed in Denver.

"Unions have done some good things for the work environment in this country," Currie said. "I just think no one wants an all-or-nothing solution. Employees have the right to start a union, but they shouldn't be forced to join one."

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