Why Labor Activists Have Followed Governor Ritter to Washington

June 2009

ritter-bill1Less than two years ago, Republicans attacked Governor Bill Ritter for signing an executive order that gave state employees the right to collectively bargain for power. Now, as unions batter the Democratic governor over his recent vetoes of labor legislation, Republicans only have to sit back and imagine how the latest commotion might help them in the 2010 election. Yesterday, angry firefighters and grocery store workers "spent much of the day hounding" Ritter in Washington, D.C., as he attended campaign fundraisers, according to The Denver Post. "We're a little upset," says Aurora firefighter Steve Clapham, mentioning that Ritter shot down a measure that would allow firefighters to bargain collectively. Ritter also vetoed a bill that would have helped workers receive unemployment benefits if they are locked out on strike. David Kenney, Ritter's campaign manager, says the governor supports workers but that "sometimes leadership means saying no to your friends."

9News political analyst Floyd Ciruli says the picketers cast the image of a "governor who is embattled, who is not able to lead," adding that "right now, he ought to be focused on and would like to be focused on his overall message, [but] he has to be worried about the base of the party, the labor unions in particular who have shown they are willing to go and disrupt his speeches. Nothing could be more distracting." In tangentially related labor news, a district court judge in Denver issued an injunction against Amendment 54 on Tuesday. The measure, passed by voters last November, sought to restrict campaign contributions by government contractors, but the judge found the restriction to be a violation of free speech, according to The Colorado Independent.