Deal takes 4 measures off ballot

Business leaders had opposed the initiatives

Mug of Bernie Buescher from 3-18-6

Colorado’s staggeringly long ballot just got a little shorter, thanks to a deal unveiled Thursday by a group of business and union leaders.

Four union-backed ballot initiatives that business leaders worried could be toxic to Colorado’s business environment will be removed from the ballot in exchange for help defeating three anti-union questions, including one to make Colorado a right-to-work state.

In exchange for removing Amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57 from the ballot, business leaders have agreed to raise $3 million for a campaign against Amendment 47, which would allow workers to forgo joining a union even when a union represents them, and two other anti-union measures, Amendments 49 and 54.

“It’s huge,” said state Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction. “It’s a huge victory for business. … This is a victory for the state.”

As a result of the deal, the number of statewide ballot questions is reduced to 14.

Gov. Bill Ritter called the deal a win for policy makers who wanted to prevent an upset in the balance that Colorado laws strike between promoting strong businesses and unions.

“This is a very good day for Colorado,” Ritter said.

The deal came just shy of a statewide deadline to finalize the contents of the ballot.

Diane Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said she was delighted to hear of the deal.

“If any one of these would have passed, I think the effects would have been devastating for the economy of the state,” she said.

Schwenke said the chamber’s board, which endorsed Amendment 47, has not formally reacted to the amendment deal. She said, however, it long has been the chamber’s position that labor law does not belong in the state Constitution.

She said the chamber could reconsider its position on Amendment 47.

State Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, said even if some business groups back away from Amendment 47, there will be consequences for the unions attempting to force businesses to join them.

“I’m glad the four extortion measures were pulled, but I still believe very strongly the state of Colorado should enact the right-to-work law,” Penry said. “I think there will be backlash.”


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