Ron Brady, former Colorado Education Association president, speaks to members of the Moffat County Education Association on Thursday afternoon during their general membership meeting at Moffat County High School. Brady urged educators to vote in favor of Amendment 59, known as Savings Account for Education, or SAFE. He also told members to vote down proposed amendments to the Colorado constitution that he said are aimed at crippling labor unions, including the CEA.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Ron Brady, former Colorado Education Association president, speaks to members of the Moffat County Education Association on Thursday afternoon during their general membership meeting at Moffat County High School. Brady urged educators to vote in favor of Amendment 59, known as Savings Account for Education, or SAFE. He also told members to vote down proposed amendments to the Colorado constitution that he said are aimed at crippling labor unions, including the CEA.

Yea for one, nay for three

Members of Education Association urged to vote yes on SAFE

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A group of Moffat County educators were urged to vote in favor of an amendment that would deposit funds into the state education fund.

At the same time, they were encouraged to vote down amendments one former educator said were geared at crippling teacher labor unions.

At the general meeting of the Moffat County Education Association, Ron Brady, a retired teacher and former Colorado Education Association president, gave an overview of upcoming ballot items that could have an impact on school funding and labor unions.

The Moffat County Education Association is a local branch of the Colorado Education Association, a labor union for teachers. Its membership includes classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, instructional aids and school administration.

Brady lauded Amendment 59 as a solution to the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which doesn't allow for tax increases without voter approval.

The amendment would take funds that would otherwise be refunded under TABOR and place it in the state education fund. At the same time, however, the amendment would remove the stipulation that education funding grow by at least the rate of inflation.

In contrast, Brady suggested that the audience of about 20 educators vote no on proposed amendments that he said are designed by special interest groups outside of Colorado "interested in busting unions."

Amendment 47, entitled Prohibition on Certain Conditions of Employment, prohibits employers both from requiring workers to be members of a labor organization and demanding workers paying membership fees to such organizations.

The proposed amendment makes charging agency fees illegal, according to literature provided by the CEA, even if those agency fees were negotiated between workers and employers.

Amendment 49, limitation on public payroll deductions, prohibits government payroll systems from making deductions from a government employee's paycheck with certain exceptions, including charitable donations and insurance benefits.

The amendment, if passed, would prevent employees from allowing labor union dues to be deducted directly from their salary.

Finally, Brady addressed Amendment 54, which would limit on campaign contributions from government sole-source contractors. The amendment pertains to individuals or organizations who hold a combined $100,000 or more in contracts, including joint bargaining arrangements, given by state and local governmental agencies without competitive bidding. The amendment, if passed in November, would prohibit such contract holders from contributing to political parities or candidates during the time that they hold the contracts.

Michele Conroy, Moffat County Education Association co-president, said the proposals spoke also to the effect the labor union has had on education.

"In the long run, it's an indirect compliment to us and the organization," she said. "We have become very powerful in our collective voice in making change in education and doing what's right for our students: and us as educators."

In light of these changes, "How else can they battle us but to crush us in our ability to pay our dues and support our organization?" Conroy said.

No one at the meeting spoke either in support of the three amendments or in opposition to SAFE.

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