Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, October 06, 2008

Colorado Truce - Management & Labor Compromise on Ballot Initiatives

Iit's always good to see management and labor work out their differences, although this is an unusual issue. The WSJ in its story, Executives Pledge Funds as Unions Drop Colorado Initiatives, details a compromise where the business community has agreed to help raise up to $75 million to defeat three anti-union proposals that will be on the November 4th ballot in Colorado, including one designed to make Colorado a right-to-work state.

In return, organized labor dropped four potential anti-business initiatives, including one that would have allowed employees to sue for injuries outside the workers compensation system.

What this confirms for me is the danger of making ballot initiatives too easy. Hard to believe that is the best way to come up with public policy.

Hat tip to the folks at Workplace Issues Today from the M.P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.


Ballot initiatives could be better:

Voters on ballot initiatives need what legislators get: public hearings, expert testimony, amendments, reports, etc. The best project for such deliberative process is the National Initiative for Democracy, led by former Sen. Mike Gravel: Also and

In Switzerland, petitions are left at government offices and stores for people to read and sign at leisure, so there are less aggressive petitioners more informed signers, and less $ required. The Swiss vote on initiatives 4-6 times a year so there's never too many on one ballot. Because they have real power, the Swiss read more newspapers/capita than anyone else.

Legislators have never tried to improve the ballot initiative process, but often try to make it even harder. They'd rather have absolute power!

In Switzerland, representatives are humbler, after centuries of local and cantonal (state) ballot initiatives, and national initiatives since 1891. They call their system "co-determination." This works well for couples, too!
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