As the Pueblo Chieftain reports:
Gov. Bill Ritter came [to Ludlow] Sunday morning to honor the striking CF&I mine workers and their families who were shot to death on April 20, 1914.
However, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, as well as Pueblo firefighters, stood up and turned their backs in protest against the governor they helped elect in 2006.
Ritter’s decisions in the past few months to veto several bills sought by Colorado unions appears to have ripped apart the alliance between the first-term Democrat and unions that worked for his election three years ago.
“He’s just disgusting us right now,” said Sam Pantelo, vice president of the Pueblo’s Steelworkers Local 2102. “I don’t know who he thinks is going to work for him in 2010.”
Most of the crowd of about 300 people at the ceremony Sunday wore caps or shirts declaring their union affiliation. Shortly after arriving, Ritter waved off a question suggesting he is losing support among organized labor.
“I have a dispute with some labor groups,” Ritter said. “But if you look at what we’ve accomplished for working families, I think I’ve acted in the best interest of the state.”
…The speeches Sunday were unashamedly pro-union and Ritter’s presence on the podium was largely ignored. In fact, he was not even listed in the program, which Robert Butero, UMWA regional director, explained as an “oversight” just before introducing Ritter after nearly 90 minutes of other speakers.
None of this should surprise you–obviously the Ludlow Massacre Memorial is not a place you would expect to find much praise for a Governor who just outraged thousands of fellow union members, and we seriously doubt Bill Ritter’s omission from the schedule was an accident. And as evidenced by these comments from a Pueblo steelworker, Ritter’s vetoes have upset a larger constituency than just the grocery workers and firefighters in the spotlight. According to the Chieftain, the biggest applause for any speaker occurred when Rep. Buffie McFadyen called for the audience to support unionized grocery workers in their ongoing negotiations–directly calling out Ritter’s veto of their (symbolically) key bill.
At the same time, you have to admit that failing to appear at the Ludlow Memorial yesterday would have been at least as bad for Ritter’s relations with labor. He didn’t have a choice but to show up and take his lumps. Until concrete steps to reconcile with this and other aggrieved communities in his Democratic base are taken–something everyone agrees is necessary but nobody seems to have really defined, let alone begun–Ritter should probably get used to the experience.
It’s what happens when you “say no to your friends.” You still have to see them every day…