June 12, 2008
AMENDMENT 47 - Right to Work
For several months, the Board of Directors of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce has been considering the merits of a Right to Work ballot measure, now known as Amendment 47, and the economy-killing measures filed by Colorado's organized labor forces in response.
The Board of Directors has already taken a position against all of organized labor's proposed initiatives.
The leadership of this organization, both staff and volunteer, are part of a larger group that has been working for months on a solution that would allow both sides of this high-stakes game to fold their cards.
While that remains our greatest hope-allowing us all to focus on issues that will move our state forward-we realize that we must also begin to prepare for the very real possibility that a removal of the initiatives will not occur.
Colorado is unique and balanced in how labor and management relations are governed. Since 1943, we have co-existed under Colorado's Labor Peace Act. It has been an arrow in our quiver when recruiting companies to our state, because it provides balance.
Data compiled by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation clearly shows that Colorado's competiveness and job growth is equal or better than "right to work" states.
Our research indicates that, over the long run, states with "right to work" statutes do not perform significantly better in wages, economic development or business growth than Colorado.
The Chamber's Board of Directors does not view these initiatives and their benefits or consequences in a vacuum. We take into account all of the proposed initiatives in deciding where this organization finds itself in this statewide dialogue and debate.
Certainly, support of "right to work" is a basic business principle. Allowing unions the ability to organize, but not requiring workers to participate or pay dues, makes sense in our world. However, support of such action by the electorate this fall may, as a result of the passage of the labor counter-measures, bring the removal of our at-will employment system and mandate that business provide health care for employees and their dependents.
Support of "right to work" is not worth the risk to the health of our economy, our business climate and the competiveness of Colorado.
Make no mistake, should any of these labor counter-measures pass, jobs will be lost, businesses will close and economic development will be seriously and irrevocably impacted. All the work the Chamber and our members have done, as well as the thoughtful and strategic investments we have made to grow this state and to advance our 11 key industry clusters, would be risked in the name of ideology.
With all these factors in mind, and with a vision of how Colorado should continue to move forward, the Chamber Board of Directors today took a position to oppose Amendment 47, the Right to Work ballot measure.
They were clear in their message: Ideology must not trump the economic health of this state, the businesses that contribute and provide jobs, and the residents who call Colorado home.