The jury is still out, and probably will remain out for some time, as to whether Gov. Bill Ritter made the right call in vetoing House Bill 1072 on Friday. House Bill 1072 would have eliminated a second election required in order for workers to create a union, and while it is a pretty minor provision, Republicans were able to spin it into a measure that was as scary to business as Michael Jackson is to a daycare.
Democrats pushed the bill through the legislature despite strong opposition from the media, which continually got the facts wrong in their portrayal of the measure. Newspapers across the state issued editorials against HB-1072, and the press was so negative by the time Ritter got the bill on his desk that he was almost forced to veto it. Labor Union leaders are understandably upset, as The Denver Post reports:
…In the meantime, labor plans to work on other issues, such as collective-bargaining rights for public employees, said Ted Textor, secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 537.
And while he believes labor can work with Ritter, Textor said union leaders won’t forget the setback he handed them Friday.
“Going forward,” Textor said, “Gov. Ritter has created an immense IOU to pay to his own Democratic Party and to the hardworking men and women who keep America running and who supported him.”
Ritter did promise labor leaders that he would support this issue when he was running for governor, and I certainly understand their frustrations. But I also think that supporters of HB-1072 needed to do a much better job at presenting their side of the story when the media onslaught descended upon the negative aspects of the bill. There was such a negative atmosphere surrounding this bill that Ritter was in a no-win situation when it reached his desk. He could sign the bill and make good on his promise, but he would be skewered for looking like a governor who ran as a moderate but immediately caved in to special interests once he took office. On the other hand, he could veto the bill and break a campaign promise. Either way he lost.
Ritter needed more political cover from labor unions and Democratic supporters, and in fairness, his office also needed to do a better job of promoting the bill as a good piece of legislation. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to ask Ritter to fall on a hand grenade of a bill that was rammed through the legislature with no goodwill to grease the sides. You can blame Ritter or not blame Ritter, and either way you’d probably be correct.