Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In his short time as Colorado's governor, Bill Ritter has served as referee-in-chief for disputes between business and labor -- and neither side has been happy with the calls he's made.
In February 2007, a few weeks into his term, Ritter vetoed a bill that would have eliminated one of the two votes required for workers to form all-union shops. That arcane, innocuous-sounding issue threatened to cost Denver the Democratic National Convention.
Then, in November, Ritter signed an executive order allowing state workers to form "partnership agreements." The order gave employees new powers to negotiate with management, but stopped short of granting collective bargaining rights. That half-measure earned this response from the Denver Post (which endorsed Ritter in 2006), in a rare front-page editorial:
When Coloradans elected Bill Ritter as governor, they thought they were getting a modern-day version of Roy Romer, a pro-business Democrat. Instead, they got Jimmy Hoffa.
Currently, both business and labor are pushing competing ballot measures in the state. As the Denver Post reported, Ritter isn't interesting in another union controversy:
"The governor believes the best thing for all of Colorado would be if none of these measures were on the ballot in November," said Evan Dreyer, the Democratic governor's spokesman. "The governor has had conversations with both sides and will continue trying to bring everyone together and find common ground to get to a place that's good for the entire state."
He might as well have said, "Please, please, please, can't we talk about something, anything, else?"
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