Union threatens to ask Democrats to pull convention from Denver
DENVER ” Stung by Gov. Bill Ritter’s veto of a bill that would make it easier for unions to organize, the AFL-CIO threatened to recommend the Democratic Party move its 2008 convention from Denver.
In an unsigned letter Thursday, the AFL-CIO’s executive council said it planned to seek reintroduction of a bill that would make it easier to set up all-union workplaces and seek a commitment from Ritter that he would sign it.
“Union members and working people will make up more than a quarter of the delegates to the Denver convention,” a statement from the union said. “Unless we can be assured that the governor will support our values and priorities, we will strongly urge the Democratic Party to relocate the convention.”
Keith Maddox, a national AFL-CIO official, said a high-level delegation that could include the union’s president, John Sweeney, will be sent to speak with Ritter. He did not provide a timetable.
Governor spokesman Evan Dreyer said the governor welcomes the dialogue and is confident that the delegation won’t focus on a dispute over the vetoed bill.
“He feels badly that labor feels badly about what happened,” Dreyer said.
In his first veto in office, Ritter said he was satisfied with the bill but not with the process that led to its passage, arguing the debate should have been broader. Business leaders had complained they were excluded from the discussions.
Ritter paid his way through law school with a job as a union pipe layer.
Observers said it would be difficult for the union to get the convention moved, but the threat is “very potent.”
“If they make the threat very publicly, they are going to have to live up to it,” said Gary Chaison, professor of labor relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
Denver’s bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, nearly collapsed because the leader of the stagehands union balked at signing a pledge not to strike if the convention were held at the nonunion Pepsi Center. A compromise was negotiated to staff the Pepsi Center entirely with union labor for the duration of the convention.
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