They brought their dog and pony show to the Colorado Capitol in February but it wasn’t much of a hit at the box office.
Members of the right to work gang came to the statehouse with briefcases filled with the same kind of misinformation they have presented to legislators almost every year since 1988. They had expected their suited presence to draw a sharp contrast with the appearance of the union “thugs” who would be opposing Senate Bill 100, AKA right to work (for less).
No such luck.
This time, the gang’s opponents—Colorado unions–didn’t even offer a response. As Senator Lois Tochtrop, chairman of the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee, pointed out, the right-to-work (for less) issue was decisively defeated at the polls in 2008, and nothing has appeared to change since then.
The right to work supporters knew they had no chance of passing their bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Tom Neville (R-Littleton). They were seeking to produce some good theater for the press and some grist for their base’s mill. But they failed miserably. The committee voted against the bill 4 to 2.
After the hearing, Phil Hayes, lobbyist for the Colorado AFL-CIO, pointed out that the union busters couldn’t even draw a crowd at the hearing. Many business groups such as the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI), the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and others, Hayes noted, “chose to responsibly honor the will of Colorado voters who defeated Amendment 47 in 2008 by not supporting the bill.
The few supporters who were there included Jeff Crank of Colorado Springs, who represented Americans for Prosperity, a front group for the notorious billionaire Koch brothers, who have given massive amounts of money to Governor Scott Walker’s war on workers in Wisconsin. Attending from Washington, D.C., was Greg W. Mourad, a vice president of the National Right to Work Committee, which is also supported by the Koch brothers.
If the National Right to Work Committee believes it must tell Coloradans how to run their state, it could at least have sent Anne Coulter, who is an officer on the committee’s executive board. The Dragon of the Right would certainly generate more interest than did Mourad with his phony statistics.
Locally, lobbyists for the Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), spoke in favor of the bill. Although the NFIB is a consistent supporter of right to work laws, which depress wages of all workers–union and nonunion–the federation has few unionized employer members. NFIB’s only goal in supporting right to work (for less) is to eliminate the higher wage standards set by the unions for all workers. Ditto for the builders and contractors.
Senator Shawn Mitchell, a veteran conservative Republican on the committee, questioned the tactics of the unions in not testifying on the bill. He said the democratic process suffered because they didn’t join the debate.
That argument is an example of the well-known Shawn Mitchell hogwash. Indeed, a better example of true democracy was the overwhelming vote against right to work by the electorate in 2008, which Mitchell and his pals were trying to undo.
The hearing was a waste of taxpayers’ money, pure and simple. But at least it died a quick and humane death, thanks to committee Chair Tochtrop and the other Democrats on the panel—Cheri Jahn, Irene Aguilar and Suzanne Williams.