Saturday, January 06, 2007

Willhite: Significant Progress

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com

Denver's Debbie Willhite says negotiations are making progress:

A decision on where to hold the 2008 Democratic National Convention is not expected for at least another week, but local organizers are more optimistic that an agreement can be reached on labor issues that have held up Denver's bid.

Debbie Willhite, director of the Denver 2008 Host Committee, said Thursday "significant progress" has been made in reaching an agreement with national labor leaders. But Willhite said the swearing in of several new Democratic governors next week - including Colorado Gov.-elect Bill Ritter - will probably delay a decision for at least a week.
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Denver's bid has been delayed by the local stagehands union's refusal to sign a pledge not to strike or picket during the convention. Members of the union would handle all setup during the event but objects to working in the nonunion Pepsi Center, where it likely would be held.

National union leaders, including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, are now involved. "I think that the national union leadership wants to be cooperative and helpful," Willhite said. "I don't think they want the decision to be made based on the unions not being cooperative. "I think we'll get this worked out."

8 comments:

Matt said...

When I first posted in my own blog about the battle with Jim Taylor, I got an email from a reader suggesting that Jim Taylor was bitter toward the Pepsi Center because they snubbed his union years ago when deciding who to hire, so his vendetta against the arena was more or less personal rather than political. The comment made a bunch of secondary allegations against Taylor, so I didn't publish the information because I had no way to verify the accuracy of the information and didn't want to libel someone. But a new Denver Post article seems to back up the story.

Denver's drama is now getting some national attention with a recent Time article, which repeats what you and I already know about the situation and also mentions that Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which owns the Pepsi Center, is headed by Stanley Kroenke, who is married to a Walton niece. The Waltons, owners of Wal-Mart, are notoriously connected to one of the the most anti-union forces in the country, and avid supporters of the GOP, so in that case it's no surprise the unions don't want a Democratic convention benefitting that family.

I don't personally take Jim Taylor's side here, because I think that he's putting so much more at stake than this petty feud is worth, especially considering that he might be doing this out of spite. And if he were making a resonable request, he wouldn't be such a maverick, standing almost alone in his opposition to Denver's bid. But I can understand any union leader's personal beef with Wal-Mart (though the Pepsi Center's association with Wal-Mart is much too loose to seem significant to me personally), if that's really what's driving Taylor's position.

Anonymous said...

If Denver gets the bid, the convention will be held in the Pepsi Center. The Pepsi Center is a non-union facility. Even so, all workers in the Pepsi Center during the convention and during the build-up to the convention will be union workers -- many of them Stagehands. Jim Taylor myopically thinks he has the juice to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to force long-term unionization of the Pepsi Center. But if his stunts cost Denver the Convention, he'll have a lot to answer for just from his membership. Like this: why did he cost them a substantial amount of well-paying work in the summer of 2008?

Anonymous said...

I'm quite disturbed by some of the commentary on this blog. Like the rest of you, I hope that a labor agreement is reached that makes it posible for Denver to host the convention (if for no other reason than the apparent fact that no other city wants it). However, the commentator above seems to suggest that Taylor should sell out the rights of present and future workers at the Pepsi Center in exchange for "a substantial amount of well-paying work in the summer of 2008." Mr Taylor apparently understands that he is a part of a movement to protect the rights of all workers at all times, not just the workers he directly represents in the summer of 2008. This should be applauded, not criticized. I'd like to see more "Why won't the Pepsi Center agree to unionize?" posts and less suggestions that Jim Taylor back down from his principles.

denverdan said...

I don't know man. Nothing personal against labor, but I don't particularly like armtwisting in any form.

Gabe Stein said...

I completely disagree with anonymous (#2) and entirely agree with Matt and the first anonymous. Let's be honest: Jim Taylor does NOT represent present and future workers, because the union machine works and changes at the national level, not the local level, hence Denver's appeal to national union heads instead of continuing to work with Taylor directly.

Second, as Matt said, this is a PETTY FEUD because as Matt posted, he's clearly not in touch with reality (the Convention Center? Amateur, really Amateur) and thus not working with anyone to get this dispute resolved. Even if this was a stand for the principle, not the personal (and I'm beginning to smell foul play), Taylor isn't even using his power effectively, because there's NO WAY they can switch to the Convention Center and he hasn't made any other demands or suggestions like, oh, I dunno, future considerations with the Pepsi Center. Again, why Dems have gone national.

The Pepsi Center agreeing to unionize is a moot at this point, because that's not what Taylor is demanding - so you'll see no posts here about it. And chances are the Pepsi Center won't unionize anyways, since it is, as Matt pointed out, semi-connected to Walmart.

So unfortunate as it may be, it basically leaves the situation here: A local union leader pulling his weight around without offering a reasonable compromise and with little chance to change anything EXCEPT for two weeks during July when the unions get inroads into the Pepsi Center. In that view, he's DEFINITELY going to face questions if his actions mean the Convention doesn't go to Denver.

And as a post script, I'll offer that that two weeks in the summer may be the only time the union workers will ever have a chance to show Kroenke & Co. that they're better and more productive workers than non-union stagehands. If, on the other hand, the Convention doesn't go to Denver and Kroenke loses that business and recognition because of the union, you know they'll NEVER set foot in the Pepsi Center except as fans in the bleachers.

Matt said...

All, just to keep things sane, the matt who posted the first comment is not the Matt who runs this blog. I'd appreciate it if the matt who posted the comment would change his display name, or sign his posts somwhow. But please keep posting! thanks - Matt

Gabe Stein said...

Sorry, it's a little confusing...Still, doesn't change my views.

Matt Pizzuti said...

I don't know how to edit comments I already made. The site was automatically making my name into a link to my own blog, so I thought the difference would be clear, but then it reverted back to plain text...