February 4, 2008

Harassing Union Tactics Unleashed by Ritter's Executive Order

From the University of Colorado newspaper comes a story about union organizers accused of harassing state employees:
Last week, human resource directors from many state agencies met with leaders from several unions to voice their concerns about union organizers' tactics, which some called over-aggressive. One union organizer, employed by Colorado WINS, was arrested in downtown Denver in November for allegedly trespassing on Regional Transportation District property after attempting to distribute leaflets in an adjacent private building where a state agency is located. In a more recent incident, a union organizer who visited a Department of Corrections (DOC) employee at home, found himself on the business end of a gun. (The DOC could not confirm the incident, but S&GR learned about the incident from two union leaders, both of whom volunteered the information.)

The response from union leaders at the Jan. 25 meeting was that if unions are denied access to state employees in the workplace, home visits and home phone calls may be their chief way to get petitions signed for employee partnerships....

Heather Perdue, DOC human resources manager, told S&GR that her employees view the home visits as an invasion of privacy. Other HR directors said some employees have complained about multiple phone calls at home in the evenings. Hudson replied that there are at least three organizations trying to recruit and it's possible that employees are getting calls from three organizations in one night.
Remember, it was Gov. Bill Ritter's November 2 executive order that set these events rapidly in motion. In the past three months, we've been told these are harmless and constructive "partnerships" designed to make state government more "efficient."

And now what do we read about: Trespassing? Visits and repeated phone calls (maybe they should organize a telemarketers' union) to employee homes? The unions seem really eager to get employees on board to take part in these "partnerships." Except what they're telling their targeted future members is something different than what the governor has said to try to reassure citizens of the state:
[Colorado Association of Public Employees spokesman Miller] Hudson also addressed the issue of what messages are being communicated to state employees. He said his organization is talking about negotiating for better wages and benefits in recruiting messages, in spite of the Ritter administration's statements that those issues are non-negotiable due to existing statutory and budget limitations.
The question remains: Is Ritter being manipulated by the unions, or is he a willing collaborator? Whichever is the case, he shares some accountability for opening his employees' doors to coercive union tactics and the government's doors to inevitable rising costs.

At least one official is trying to do something about the problem on both fronts:
Sen. Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield) said he also had heard stories, including ones from friends who are state employees and say they are being harassed. He said he suspects that a master list of state employees' home phone numbers and addresses may have been illegally provided to the unions, and that he is looking into the matter. The union tactics are "outrageous," Mitchell said, "but not surprising." He said the Ritter executive order is more about "throwing open the door to coercive recruiting tactics, not about creating a collegial partnership with state employees." Mitchell is a sponsor of SB 86, which would overturn the Ritter order. It is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Feb. 6.

Hudson and [Communications Workers of America organizer Al] Kogler told the human resource managers that those lists were purchased from information brokers who are "tracking down" state employees.
Purchasing lists for the privilege of "tracking down" state employees in their homes? That's a lot of time, effort, and brain damage to spend just to make government more "efficient." Either Gov. Ritter has been insulting our intelligence, or letting his own intelligence be insulted. Neither is a flattering compliment for this great state of Colorado.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

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