CO Gov. Bill Ritter Screws Labor

Given the amount of promotion of Colorado as a "blue state" miracle in the west and a model for Dems across the country, the latest policy decision from Gov. Bill Ritter makes this progressive wonder what the point of electing Dems in the first place is.

Friday Ritter vetoed a bill that would have revisesd the union eletion process, making it easier for employees to form unions. This comes after promising, in writing, to sign such a bill if it ever reached his desk.

On the other side of the flip I've included the relevant passages from the Denver Buisness Journal and a few editorial comments.

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Both Bill and Teaching Moment

I've gotten a few questions about the legislative prospects of the Employee Free Choice Act. Well, erm, honestly? With the current makeup of the Senate, and more importantly, Bush still in the White House, the smart bet has to be that this bill doesn't become law in the 110th Congress. What a push now does is create the space for an enormous amount of concentrated education on unionization. Then, with the right numbers on the Hill and a labor-minded prez in the Oval Office, magic happens. But what's more, I'd suggest that thinking "education" is key to understanding why H.R. 800 is pretty darn important. Beyond card check, it seems to me that the success of the American labor movement is tied to the creation of a political/social environment where collective bargaining is more widely understood to be what Martha Stewart would call "a good thing."

Resurrection Not All About the Benjamins

Taylor Marsh, who has been doing great work covering the SEIU nurse's lockout in Las Vegas, has the good word that that the nurses and techs have reached a contract with the Universal Health Service hospitals out there. One of the main bones of contention in the Nevada situation was the question of staffing levels -- how many nurses UHS has on the floor at any one time. I think it's worth remembering that these union fights aren't always just about money or hours. In a way, they're as much about better workplaces, and the impact of that can reach out far beyond the employees themselves.

For example, the nurses out in Chicago working to organize the Resurrection Health Care system desperately want to have a say in how the units in the hospital are manned. Again and again I heard in Chicago that the nurses feel like they just can't deliver patient care the way that they want to, the way that they were educated, when they're running around just trying to keep the very worst from happening. (Reminder, I'm working with the AFL-CIO on the Employee Free Choice Act and was out in Chicago to meet with organizers and employees involved in the AFSCME unionization drive there.) More on nurse staffing after the flip.

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With Elections Like These, Who Needs Democracy?

If local, state and national elections utilized the   election rules provided through the National Labor Relations Board, there would quite likely be rioting in the streets.  The 2000 Florida recount would look like a textbook example of Jeffersonian Democracy, and not the disaster it's looked back at as today.

There is only one way to get a true sense of how devastating the workplace voting system is for workers is in the United States today.  And that is by applying it within the context of a local, state or national election.

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How Employers Get Away With Highway Robbery

Imagine a world where a person gets beaten or shot by someone whose punishment is set by how long their victim remains in the hospital.  

A world where an assailant can be charged with a one week sentence - reflecting the hospital time his victim had to endure recovering from the trauma of a viscious beating.  Or one where a robber gets a reprieve from his or her punishment once the victim's insurance carrier makes up for the stolen items.

There is a world like this that exists for employers, a unique reality shaped by the policies and statutes set by the National Labor Relations Board.  The NLRA's penalties against illegal firing of union supporters are so minimal that employers treat them as a minor cost of doing business.  

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