Union Supporters Throughout Colorado Turn On Hickenlooper Over Douglas County Dispute

Union supporters throughout Colorado are beginning to turn on Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, over his refusal to involve the Department of Labor and Employment in the local Douglas County (Colo.) teacher’s union conflict.

Most of the blue-on-blue warring has centered around recent comments submitted on a SignOn.org petition calling on Hickenlooper to demand state level intervention in Douglas County. The local Board of Education nullified the union contract after stalled negotiations in July. Within the last ten days, close to a dozen comments questioning the Governor’s liberal bona fides have been submitted by union-supporting Democrats across the state.

Bernadette Jiron, Union President of the Local 4463 Denver Federation for Paraprofessionals and Nutrition Services Employees(DFPNSE), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the AFL-CIO, warned Hickenlooper that her union stands in solidarity with the Douglas County Federation of Teachers. In signing the petition on October 1, Jiron demanded immediate action, stating, “DON’T DELAY AND TAKE A STAND FOR WORKER’S RIGHTS!” In addition to serving as the President of the DFPNSE, Jiron has also served in several other union positions, including her role as the Secretary Treasurer of AFT.

NARAL supporter and Democratic Party contributor John Fulton, from Aurora, rejected Hickenlooper entirely. In his October 2 posting to the SignOn.org petition, Fulton claimed that the governor is no longer even a Democrat. “It’s time we elected a Democratic Governor in Colorado,” Fulton commented.”All we get for our efforts are Republicans lite – and I mean lite.”

On October 3, Thomas B. Ford, a Denver resident and union supporter, signed the petition and authored an all-caps, threatening comment to Hickenlooper. “ARE YOU A DEMOCRAT?” Ford asked. “IF IN FACT YOU ARE THEN ACT LIKE ONE AND SUPORT COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. IF NOT THEN IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS YOU TRULY ARE. BUT REMEMBER WHO SUPPORTS YOU, OR NOT.”

Similar comments expressing anger came from well outside the Douglas County district. Jill Stevens of Pueblo and Mary Lego of Centennial also questioned the governor’s political leanings, reminding him that he needed to act like the liberals who voted for him. “THERE GOES THE MIDDLE CLASS. ANOTHER NAIL IN THE COFFIN GOVENOR, YOU ARE A DEMOCRAT. DON’T FORGET! UNIONS ARE GOOD!” Lego wrote when signing the petition.

One individual signed the petition on September 30 did so under the alias “WmDC SchFed” and claimed to be from Westminster, CO. “WmDC SchFed” added to the anti-Hickenlooper sentiment, characterizing the governor as “HickenBLOOPER, the Blue Dog Democrat.” The SignOn.org petition allows for anonymous signatures and entries, which raises doubts about the validity of the petition as a whole.

The petition, titled “Stop The Union Busting In Douglas County”, was started on September 7 and has received 5,500 signatures to date.