Committee passes bill on collective bargaining

By Peter Marcus, The Colorado Statesman

The Democratic-controlled legislature on Wednesday began debate on a labor union bill that would ensure collective bargaining rights for Colorado firefighters, pushing the measure through the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on a party-line vote of 3-2.

The proposal offered Democrats their first chance this year at flexing their political muscle after voters returned control of the legislature to them after the November elections. The issue could become a political football, as some Democrats may scurry from the polarizing labor union debate in an effort to maintain a moderate stance with constituents in more middle-of-the-road districts. Republicans have vowed to put up as much of a fight as they can.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, could be left with the final decision, forcing him to step away from his moderate image, as well.

A similar bill caused former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter heartburn in 2009 when he made the difficult decision to veto the measure, which was sponsored at the time by Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton. She is sponsoring the bill again this year.

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