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I think we all thought Denver had put its union issues behind them when a union was formed at the convention headquarters Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. Well it turns out that some local labor leaders are still not ready to support Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention:
A blue oasis in the heart of the predominantly Republican Rocky Mountain West, Denver could lose its bid to lure the 2008 Democratic National Convention unless it can win the support of an important constituency -- labor unions.I would think the DNC could include union protections in the contract with the city. But can the city can pressure the hotel to agree to a labor contract, and by when? It's just hard to tell if this is just standard negotiating posturing, or something that's a more serious threat to Denver's bid.
The city's prospects for securing the convention were boosted in Tuesday's election by Democratic victories across Colorado -- including the pickup of the governor's office and a House seat. They showed the party's success in making inroads in normally GOP terrain. Denver also boasts a renovated convention center and a flashy new hotel.
What it does not have, at least yet, is the support of union members. Without it, Denver has no chance of beating New York City in the competition for a political plum. Denver has asked the AFL-CIO for a resolution of support. But state union officials, unhappy about what they call the city's "unfriendly" attitude in the past, are holding out for a sign of Denver's support in return.
"If they show their support for labor, labor will support the Democratic National Convention," said Steve Adams, president of the Colorado AFL-CIO.
Leslie Moody, executive director of the Denver Area Labor Federation, which represents about 80 unions, said the group wants a union contract for employees who work for the primary convention hotel, the new Hyatt Regency at Colorado Convention Center, and a contract with the Democratic National Committee that spells out a requirement for workers in the service, hotel and entertainment industries.
One obstacle to union support for the convention was resolved in October when the city agreed that workers at the Hyatt could unionize. The city had a say in the question because its bonds helped finance the hotel. Moody said it now is up to the city to pressure hotel managers to agree to a labor contract and for the DNC to include union protections in its contract with the city.
Moody said Denver's public and private sectors have a checkered history dealing with unions. An April transit strike against the Regional Transportation District, which is largely independent of city government, left a lot of bruised feelings.
Debbie Willhite, a consultant for the host committee, said labor is crucial to Denver's bid because members of organized labor make up about 40 percent of the national convention delegates, and the national party labor support to win elections.