District 3 candidates differ on collective bargaining

       One of the questions asked at the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) candidate forum Feb. 24 was for a simple yes or no on whether Colorado Springs should have collective bargaining for its employees.
       In the part of the forum for the two District 3 City Council candidates, Lisa Czelatdko answered “No.” When he was then handed the microphone, Michael Merrifield said, “I don't want to answer yes or no. It's a very complicated question.”
       However, his effort to elaborate was cut off by forum moderator Jim Bensberg because of the question's limited-answer requirement.
       District 3 is an area that includes Old Colorado City and much of the southern part of the Westside.
       Adding spice to the race this year is the clear political-party contrast in what is typically a non-partisan contest. Merrifield recently concluded eight years (he was term-limited) as the Democrat state representative for a district that includes many of the same precincts as council District 3, while Czelatdko has been a precinct captain and state delegate with the local Republican party.
       In late February, Merrifield was a featured speaker at a downtown rally in support of protesting public union workers in Wisconsin - one of whose complaints is that the governor proposes to remove some of their collective bargaining privileges.
       Collective bargaining is currently not allowed for Colorado Springs city employees, under the city charter. Any change in the charter requires a vote of the public.
       Given a chance after the forum to elaborate on his collective-bargaining response, Merrifield said he didn't see a need to. Collective bargaining for public employees is a “non-issue in Colorado Springs,” he said, because of the charter constraint and because “no city groups are asking for it… Just because things are going on in Wisconsin doesn't mean it's an issue in Colorado Springs.”
       Czelatdko offered the comment that Merrifield “has been a longtime supporter of unions. This is proven by his votes at the State Capitol and his support of collective bargaining and union contracts.”
       If collective bargaining were in effect in Colorado Springs, Czelatdko added, “it would put the city at risk during difficult financial times. This is not the time to be extending the benefits of city employees and I do not support unionization of public employees.”
       Here are other candidate responses at the forum to the collective bargaining question:
       MAYOR - No (Brian Bahr, Buddy Gilmore, Mitch Christiansen, Phil McDonald, Kenneth Duncan and Tom Gallagher). Yes (Dave Munger). “Maybe” (Richard Skorman).
       CITY COUNCIL, AT-LARGE - No (Sean Paige, Val Snider, Doug Bruce, Brandy Williams, Helen Collins, Dan Reifschneider, Merv Bennett, Ed Bircham, Richard Bruce, Gretchen Kasameyer). Yes (Tony Exum, Bill Murray). “Maybe” (Tony Carpenter). “Not a black and white issue” (Jan Martin).

Westside Pioneer article