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Colorado Labor Peace Act Doesn’t Give Peace of Mind

Sheron McCampbell, a First Student school bus driver and member of Teamsters Local 455 in Denver, organized with her co-workers to join the Teamsters in February 2009. As an active member organizer, McCampbell has since traveled the country to help organize her fellow school bus workers. Hers is the first in a series of profiles on active women Teamster members in commemoration of Women’s History Month.

My co-workers and I work at First Student in Grand Junction, Colo., and are now union members represented by Teamsters Local 455 in Denver. We work in the only state where not only do you vote for union representation under the National Labor Relations Act, but then there is a second vote under the Colorado Labor Peace Act. This vote requires that 75 percent-plus-1 of workers in the workplace vote for a “union shop.” Until that vote date arrives and you win the second election, there is no peace of mind. Our peace of mind came only after winning the second vote. Currently, this act is the only thing that keeps Colorado from being a right-to-work state!

In 1935, the Federal Government passed the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act. It protected workers’ rights to choose whether or not they wanted to have union representation in their workplace. But by 1943, the governor of Colorado signed into law the Colorado Labor Peace Act.

The 1947, Taft-Hartley Act diminished the strength of labor unions in many ways, including allowing individual states to make modifications to their labor laws and become right-to-work states. We are seeing the impact of this today, as workers across the country are rallying together to fight politicians’ efforts to eliminate their collective bargaining power and collective rights as workers. Yet many years of economic research have yet to demonstrate any correlation between outlawing “union security” and the economic advantages for a state.

Colorado, however, continues to require a second election. If the federal legislators found it was time-consuming and not cost effective, wouldn’t you think Colorado would do away with this worthless policy? If it is such a good labor policy, why is Colorado the only state that has ever adopted it in the last 60-plus years? The voice of workers should speak in an election; holding a second election is profoundly anti-democratic.

I am thankful my co-workers and I were able to produce the 75 percent-plus-1 at our vote under the Colorado Labor Peace Act. It gives us peace of mind knowing we were able to stand strong not only against our huge multi-billion dollar conglomerate First Student, but also against a state policy that was enacted to keep unions out of Colorado. We are proud to be Teamsters and hope other workers in Colorado, and nationwide, will become unified knowing it can be done!