At a glance
• Clean Government Colorado chairman: Amendment 54 not designed to silence voice of teachers' unions.
• Amendment applies to organizations with $100,000 or more in government contracts not competitively bid
• Amendment would temporarily prevent contract holders from making campaign contributions.
• Last week, former president of labor union for teachers said amendment one of several targeted at damaging unions.
A Colorado campaign chairman recently defended an amendment that a speaker at last week's Moffat County Education Association meeting said was designed to bust teachers' unions.
Tom Lucero, chairman of the Clean Government Colorado campaign, contends that Amendment 54 wasn't created to silence the voice of labor unions. Instead, he said, the proposed amendment is designed to clean up corruption at state and local levels.
Lucero's defense of the amendment comes after Ron Brady, former Colorado Education Association president, criticized the proposal during a discussion last week with Moffat County teachers' union members.
The proposed amendment, Brady told the teachers, was created to cripple their organization and others like it. No one at the meeting stood in support of the measure.
Amendment 54 pertains to groups with $100,000 or more in sole-source government contracts, or those awarded by a governmental agency without a competitive bid process. The proposed amendment would prevent groups from making campaign contributions to issues or candidates while holding contracts.
It also would prohibit groups from making contributions for two years after contracts expire.
Amendment 54 identifies collective bargaining agreements between organizations and government agencies as a noncompetitive bid. Such agreements between teachers' unions and school districts, a type of government agency, are a "perfect example" of this type of prohibited activity, Lucero said.
However, Lucero maintains that the amendment wasn't created with teachers' unions in mind.
"Unions were added as an afterthought," Lucero said, adding that any attempt to brand the proposed amendment as an attempt to silence teachers' unions is a "lie."
Instead, the proposed amendment to the Colorado constitution would prohibit a union's political activities committee from making campaign contributions.
Individual teachers, firefighters and other members of unions for government agencies still can give donations to campaigns and candidates of their choice, Lucero said.
"Nobody's voice is being silenced in any of this," he said.
Clean Government Colorado was created in part to get Amendment 54 on November's ballot.
If the amendment passes in November, holders of sole-source government contracts will have one of three options: take the contracts, give them up in order to give campaign donations or request that contracted work be open to competitive bids.
"There are plenty of options for everybody on the table," Lucero said.
Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org