The bill that would have undone the 2007 executive order that gave union muscle to Colorado state employees was defeated, as expected, on a 2-3, party-line vote Monday afternoon. David Ohmart, who works for the state unemployment office -- and who has also ripped unions -- testified in favor of the bill and said he's had difficulty getting basic information from Colorado WINS (Workers for Innovations and New Solutions), which represents 31,000 state workers.
OHMART: WINS representatives have lived in anonymity. They refuse to answer questions, share information related to their funding. They have refused to identify their non-state employee staff - where they are from, who they represent, their salaries or expenses. I have tried several times to get this information from them and just been told by their legal representation that it is not forthcoming.
This testimony in itself should be not surprising. What WAS surprising was when Sen. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, said this later to the sponsor of bill SB11-038, Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield:
Sen. Mitchell, I do appreciate Mr. Ohmart's concern about openness and transparency. And perhaps that's something to be looked at. But I'm not comfortable tying the hands of the governor and saying, "You can't do this, you absolutely can't do this," prohibiting this from happening. But I'd be interested in some conversation about transparency.
Colorado WINS should have to answer some common-sense questions, like who they are and what their budget looks like, particularly because they claim to represent "more than 31,000 state employees who work to ensure our quality of life in communities across the state." Here's hoping that Sen. Boyd follows through with her interest in conversations about transparency and we get some answers about the organization that represents state employees.
And check out this recent attempt by the Colorado Government Accountability Project to have Colorado WINS disclose information, based on a Colorado Open Records Request.