Colorado ballot shrinks |

Colorado ballot shrinks

Joanne Kelley
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado

Colorado labor unions agreed late Wednesday to pull four initiatives from the statewide ballot, just hours ahead of today’s withdrawal deadline.

The decision ends weeks of intense negotiations between labor and business interests to defuse what would have been an all-out brawl leading up to November’s election.

The details were to be announced at an 11 a.m. news conference today and were still being worked out late into the evening after the parties met for several hours Wednesday toward a resolution.

The agreement will allow unions to spend all their campaign resources fighting three potentially damaging ballot measures aimed at weakening labor activity in the state. Sources declined to say exactly how business leaders would coordinate their efforts with the labor community. But those details will likely become clearer after the measures are formally withdrawn from the secretary of state’s office.

The measures that will not be put to a vote include: mandatory employee healthcare premiums, a safe workplace proposal, a just cause measure that limits employers’ ability to fire workers and a corporate fraud initiative that makes executives criminally liable for wrongdoing.

Mayor John Hickenlooper and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President Joe Blake announced the deal to a group of Denver business leaders traveling in Vancouver, Canada, as part the chamber foundation’s Leadership Exchange program. The news was met with hearty applause.

“I can’t possibly express how relieved we should all be,” Hickenlooper said. “We can get back to solving problems.”

Hickenlooper called the labor-backed initiatives “four poison pills” that posed the greatest risk to business viability that Colorado will ever face.

He then encouraged everyone to oppose three ballot measures viewed as labor-unfriendly, including the right-to-work Amendment 47.

“This now gives us an opportunity, assuming we can defeat 47, 49 and 54, to return to the labor peace where labor and business can work together to solve the challenges we face,” Hickenlooper said.

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