Denver council’s e-mails show no improper union activity, chamber says

May 09, 2013

The Denver Post

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s recent unprecedented request to look through Denver City Council e-mails in search of improper influence by labor organizations found no evidence of wrongdoing.

But chamber director Kelly Brough said the 139 documents that were turned over by City Council members show labor unions have regular contact with council members and often make requests for their assistance.

“Is it as ethical as it could be? We don’t think so,” Brough said. “One group shouldn’t be able to have more influence than another. We expect our elected officials to ensure there is no undue influence.”

The e-mails that were also provided to The Denver Post reveal numerous meetings between union officials and City Council members, union officials requesting council members to pressure companies whose employees are organizing and responses from companies to those inquiries.

This kind of dance between pro-labor and pro-business forces is nothing new, said Cynthia Fukami, professor at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business.

“If a company treats its workers well, it shouldn’t have to worry about unionization,” she said. “Unions are brought in when companies are mistreating people. If companies are treating people well, they shouldn’t have anything to worry about. The city has ethics laws and makes sure the council isn’t peddling their influence. My goodness, the percent of workers represented by labor is so small, it’s hard to believe that is a clear and present danger.”