Ritter vetoes firefighter union bill

Grand Junction Firefighters Association President Kevin Kuhlman was among several labor leaders quick to blast Gov. Bill Ritter’s veto Thursday of a measure that would have allowed local firefighters to bargain collectively.

“He stood in front of our local and state union in December 2006 and said if a collective bargaining measure came across his desk, he’d sign it,” Kuhlman said. “Basically it’s just not following through on a promise.”

Ritter announced Thursday his veto of Senate Bill 180, the Firefighter Collective Bargaining Act, which was passed by the Legislature in May. Grand Junction and other home-rule cities had fought the legislation, and Grand Junction Mayor Bruce Hill in mid-May wrote a letter to Ritter urging a veto.

The bill would have given Colorado firefighters the right to unionize without local government approval. 

The governor said in a statement the measure would effectively override local voters. Grand Junction voters in 2000 rejected a measure, 69 percent to 31 percent, that would have changed the city charter to allow collective bargaining.

The veto was the fourth major labor bill killed by Ritter.

“Gov. Ritter continues to disappoint working families, undercut our economic recovery in Colorado and buy into the business-versus-labor corporate mentality that President Obama says is outdated and counterproductive,” said Crisanta Duran, legal counsel for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Kuhlman called Thursday’s veto “a rude awakening.”

“This would have given us a seat at the table, not only with our own department, but city administration,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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