Talks continue on Colo. labor questions |

Talks continue on Colo. labor questions

Kristen Wyatt
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Colorado business and labor groups were working Wednesday on a deal that might pull some union measures off the November ballot in exchange for business help in fighting a right-to-work measure.

But one business group in the talks says there’s no chance it will spend money fighting the right-to-work measure, which union groups want to defeat.

“It’s not negotiable,” said Kate Horle, spokeswoman for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “

The chamber opposes the right-to-work measure, but Horle said spending money to defeat it “would be violating a promise we made to our members.”

The union-business talks come as the two sides try to sort through a raft of labor-related ballot measures approved for ballots this fall. Labor groups have raised millions to fight the right-to-work measure, which would prohibit mandatory union membership.

Brewery heir Jonathan Coors is championing the measure.

In response, labor groups have succeeded in placing four worker-friendly measures on ballots that worry business groups. Those include a requirement that businesses with at least 20 employees provide health insurance and a ban on firing employees without a specific reason.

The confusing labor crossfire has helped leave Colorado with the nation’s longest ballot this year. But union groups have signaled they’re willing to withdraw their four questions, as allowed under state law, if business groups will help them defeat the right-to-work amendment.

Groups that successfully file ballot questions with the secretary of state’s office can request by Oct. 2 that the questions not be counted, though they’d still appear on ballots.

The question has led to negotiations with state and federal officials, including Gov. Bill Ritter and Sen. Ken Salazar.

“The senator has basically been trying to call for a peaceful standoff,” said Salazar spokesman Michael Amodeo. “They’re making some progress.”

But the chamber spokeswoman insisted Wednesday that any deal including business donations to defeat the right-to-work amendment won’t be approved.

“Right now there is no deal for labor to stand down,” Horle said.

Wendy Greenwald, spokeswoman for the labor coalition Protect Colorado’s Future, said it’s unclear when a resolution might come.

Even if business groups talking with labor unions don’t agree to help fund labor’s campaigns, Colorado voters should be in for a deluge of campaigning against the right-to-work measure. Labor groups say they have raised more than $8 million and are prepared to raise millions more to defeat it.

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