Updated: February 8, 2013 at 12:00 am
Maybe the conscientious voters of central and western Colorado Springs, who continue electing Sen. John Morse, don’t know what he is really about. Morse is so far out in left field he could have a hard time winning in Boulder. He exhibits a palpable contempt for the values of the majority in Colorado Springs.
Nothing Morse does protects or enhances freedom of the individual. He votes 100 percent of the time in favor of less autonomy for Coloradans and for more authority and control for state government.
His latest maneuver involves enthusiastic support of SB25, which is Morse thumbing his nose at the electorate in Colorado Springs.
The law would grant firefighters the right to form unions and force cities and counties to engage in collective bargaining with them. Historically, Colorado voters have decided whether to bargain with unions formed by the men and women they pay to protect them from fires. It only makes sense, given that firefighters are hired and paid only because the general public wants their services.
Colorado Springs firefighters are brave and hardworking city employees. They are well compensated, relative to their peers, and Morse knows it. He also knows that Springs voters firmly rejected unionization of the Fire Department twice. Another effort failed to gain enough signatures for the ballot.
Morse doesn’t care. He thinks District 11 is such a niche of liberalism that he doesn’t need to respect the vast majority of Springs residents who don’t want to unionize the Fire Department. To heck with them, because the Legislature crafted him a solidly liberal district.
“I represent folks in Colorado Springs, and a portion of Colorado Springs that’s much more progressive than what’s come out of City Hall in the past with respect to how we treat our government employees,” Morse said.
If they’re so progressive, they understand that unions are not the wave of the future. Membership has declined for the past decade, as workers come to understand that union bosses and hefty membership dues aren’t always in their best interests.
Morse also wants to begin discussions with cops and teachers, pitching similar legislation that would force the public to negotiate with public employee unions.
Anyone qualified is free to take or leave dangerous and valuable professions of public service. If the public wants the best and brightest to protect the community from fires, then voters will elect politicians who promise pay and benefits high enough to compete with demand in nearby cities. In Colorado Springs, voters have done just that.
Even the hyperliberal mayor of Boulder, where the City Council chooses to negotiate with the firefighters union, opposes this radical bill that would impose state authority on locals. Unions were never intended for public employees, and nobody in the heyday of unionization would have suggested that states impose unions on home rule cities.
“It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government. Unions, as well as employers, would vastly prefer to have even Government regulation of labor-management relations reduced to a minimum consistent with the protection of the public welfare,” said the late William George Meany, who was president of the American Federation of Labor from 1952 to 1955.
Even President Franklin D. Roosevelt, patron saint of organized labor, warned against unionizing public employees.
“All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” Roosevelt said. “ … The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives.”
We understand that Sen. Morse represents a district of voters who, on average, lean to the left of the rest of Colorado Springs. Many are public employees, students, teachers, professors and other enlightened professionals. Senate District 11 is an outstanding segment of our community.
But District 11 is not composed of people, on average, who would support Sen. Morse if they genuinely understood what he stands for. He wants something considerably more than traditional Democratic support for social justice, living wages and strong local government. He wants ever-increasing power and control for federal and state politicians — the people of Colorado Springs be damned.