Our view: No-need politics
November 7, 2007
Craig — It is meant to provide better collaboration, help state workers, and create a more efficient work place.
“It” is Gov. Bill Ritter’s executive order authorizing partnership agreements with state employees, which allows state employees to become part of employee partnerships but limits their the right to strike and provides no binding arbitration.
But in the end, “it” will not likely provide better collaboration, help state workers or increase efficiency.
How can Ritter claim it creates collaboration when he pushed through the executive order without including the Colorado Legislature in the process?
In theory, the editorial board agrees with the executive order’s idea that “employee partnerships will foster collaboration and cross-fertilization of ideas between those in management and those who daily jobs give them concrete knowledge of what can be done better.”
However, it’s a theory Ritter did not heed.
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Instead, the governor seemingly believes he has more “concrete knowledge” and “knowledge of what can be done better” than those elected to represent the people of Colorado in the House and/or the Senate. He seems to think those elected officials cannot help “foster collaboration” or create a “cross-fertilization of ideas.”
The problem with Ritter’s theory is the difference between private and government institutions. Although partnership agreements might be successful in the private sector, communication issues are typically addressed naturally in state government when new officials are elected.
And let’s not forget that this is the man who ran and was elected on the Colorado Promise, in which he stated he would work on collaborative efforts. That he would avoid partisan politics.
Yet, he did nothing more than a legislative runaround to avoid collaboration. This executive order has divided, not solidified, feelings of unity, as members of the GOP have wasted no time in fighting what this editorial board considers a rogue act.
Even former Gov. Dick Lamm, a fellow Democrat, questioned Ritter’s actions, saying that the measure should have been debated in the Legislature, and that Ritter’s executive order would hurt the Colorado system of government.
These are questions and issues that would have been brought to light had Ritter followed through on the promise that helped him get elected.
Beyond that, the editorial board begs the question, “how does this help state workers?”
Let’s remember why unions were created in the first place. You had greedy corporations that took advantage of employees. Unions leveled – and some would argue have changed – the playing field.
Now look at the group being affected by Ritter’s executive order – Colorado state workers. Despite not having a collective bargaining agreement, on average, Colorado state employees made about 5.6 percent more than state workers nationwide.
Colorado is one of 23 states without a collective bargaining agreement in place, but has put an effective system into place. Need more proof than the better pay? Other states that don’t have collective bargaining agreements paid their state employees 14.2 percent less per year on average than state workers in Colorado.
The system in Colorado works. There is nothing that needs to be fixed.
If anything, Ritter has taken away the power of the workers with executive order provisions that include no striking and no binding arbitration. These are provisions that leave workers no real power in the formula.
And finally, how does this create a more efficient state government?
All this is doing is adding another step to government. Anyone who has dealt with the government knows it needs no help in being slowed down with additional layers. Even Lamm says it creates an extra step to an existing system that is already fair.
At best, Ritter’s energy to help the working class is admirable, but with all of the real problems Colorado faces – health care and education above all else – couldn’t that energy have been put to better use?
At worst, this is nothing short of the worst kind of politics – the kind designed to appease union lobbyists.
When Ritter ran on the Colorado Promise, we thought he would be collaborating with other politicians and the people of the state to make Colorado better.
Instead, it looks like he’s collaborating with special interest groups and lobbyists to push their agendas through. We have seen it first hand in the Western Slope, and now the Front Range is seeing it, too.
This is not the promise we bargained for.