Guest column: Urge Polis to veto union bill

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Elbert County's elected officials join nearly 200 others from 39 Colorado counties in urging Gov. Jared Polis to veto Senate Bill 22-230, which supports expansion of government unions to the detriment of delivering county services.
 
“Gov. Polis, every local government association from cities to districts oppose this bill, as well as the undersigned county elected officials,” the letter from local officials reads. “It does not purport to solve any problem.  In fact, it creates huge problems for counties who will have no choice but to cut services and jobs to pay for the cost of mandated collective bargaining.”
 
The bill's legislative declaration should justify its need.  However, it doesn't identify any issues to be resolved.  It doesn't claim county employees are poorly compensated, it doesn't claim statewide suffering under unsafe or hostile work conditions, and it doesn't claim that there are no methods to bring grievances to management.  These are the usual conditions that prompt calls for unionization — and they have not been found to exist.
 
So, it is fair to ask, "Why would Senate President Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and House Majority Leader Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo introduce this bill only 17 days before the end of the legislative session?"  A bill that counties didn't ask for.  One that county employees didn't ask for (only 3 of 40,000 county employees statewide testified in support during committee hearings).  A bill that every Democratic legislator joined in sponsorship and voted for.
 
Who asked for this?  Who demanded this bill?  Perhaps the answer is as simple as it is obvious.  "Unions."  
 
This could seem a cynical or partisan answer were it not for the following fact.  In July 2021, the Colorado Sun published excerpts from a letter to union affiliates in an article entitled, "Colorado AFL-CIO will Withhold Donations to Democratic Campaign Committees through May 2022, saying Unions have been 'Excluded.'"  The letter, penned by the executive director of Colorado's AFL-CIO, stated that the Colorado Democratic Party needed to treat labor leaders like "authentic partners."
 
It's surely no stretch to posit that SB22-230, passed in May of 2022, is a sad demonstration of the "authentic partnership" demanded last July, if not outright collusion that puts special interests and campaign contributions ahead of Colorado's citizens.  It's an example of "pay for play" that that should concern all voters regardless of party, should be condemned, and vetoed by the governor.
 
An analysis of the costs of the bill prepared by non-partisan legislative staff states that counties such as ours could face increased administrative and management costs of $436,892 annually regardless of whether our employees unionize.  This cost to taxpayers will result in reduced levels of service and/or reduction in funds available to provide for improving the compensation to our hard-working local civil servants.  
 
These numbers aren't pulled from thin air.  The costs of collective bargaining are real.  For example, this year state employees began operating under a collective bargaining agreement called Colorado WINS.  The name is ironic because it's not been a "win" for taxpayers.   This agreement, which hasn't led to any noticeable improvements in state services, has cost taxpayers, as reported in the Denver Post, an additional $114,000,000 in its first year and required over 40 new state employees be hired to manage "WINS."  It’s a loser.  So is SB22-230.
 
This a very bad bill with a very concerning background that will increase costs and reduce services to taxpayers.  Please join us in calling on the governor to veto SB22-230.  He can be reached by phone at 303-866-2885 or email at governorpolis@state.co.us.
 
Chris Richardson is the District 1 commissioner for Elbert County.
 
The Elbert County News welcomes the submission of thoughtful guest columns written by residents of Elbert County. Please send proposed columns or inquiries to editor Scott Gilbert at sgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com
 

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