Chamber glad to see labor measures dropped |

Chamber glad to see labor measures dropped

Four amendments would have harmed business, Evans Hall said

Blythe Terrell

Steamboat Springs – Sandy Evans Hall was “thrilled” to learn Thursday that labor groups agreed to drop four proposed constitutional amendments from the Nov. 4 ballot. Evans Hall, executive vice president for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said those proposals would have been detrimental to business.

“I think we’ve got a lot of things to be concerned about with our economy, and this is one less thing to be concerned about,” she said.

Thursday was the deadline to withdraw the proposals.

The four amendments cut were 53, 55, 56 and 57. They relate to penalties for executives whose businesses break the law; requiring specific cause for termination; requiring employers to provide health insurance; and allowing injured workers to sue employers if they think the workplace is unsafe, respectively. The four will appear on the ballot, but votes will not be counted.

In exchange for the removal of the four measures, business leaders pledged to raise $3 million to fight three amendments viewed as anti-union, the Rocky Mountain News reported. Those three will remain on the ballot.

The labor groups mainly oppose Amendment 47, which would prohibit employers from requiring workers to pay dues to labor organizations. They also are fighting Amendment 49, which would prohibit public employers from deducting money from workers’ paychecks for anything but specific purposes. Union dues are not included.

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Amendment 54, the other proposal business leaders and labor groups will fight, restricts political contributions from certain government contractors. The limits would apply to labor groups holding collective bargaining agreements with state or local government.

Ken Brenner, a Steamboat Democrat running for state Senate, said he was disappointed to see “big business” pushing forward with Amendments 47, 49 and 54.

“I’m not surprised to see labor being reasonable in pulling their amendments, and I think we can address these through a more deliberative process at the Legislature next year,” Brenner said.

Brenner’s opponent, Hayden Republican Al White, said he was pleased with the removal of the proposals.

“I’m glad to see they came to that conclusion,” White said. “Those union issues had the potential of being very negatively impactful of the economy and business. Had one or more of them passed, I believe we would have had some serious consequences in the business environment in Colorado.”

The Steamboat Chamber’s board had voted to oppose the four labor measures and support the “right to work” initiative. That support mostly was a response to the other proposals, Evans Hall said. The board will revisit its stance on Amendment 47 next week, she said.

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Labor-related measures still on the ballot:

47: Would prohibit requiring an employee to join and pay dues to a labor union

49: Would prohibit some public employee paycheck deductions

54: Would prohibit some government contractors from contributing to political causes and candidates