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Colorado Initiative 62 (2008)

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The Just Cause Initiative, or Initiative 62, seeks placement on the November 2008 ballot. If approved, the amendment would require Colorado employers to establish and document just cause before firing or suspending any full-time employee.

Government entities and non-profit organizations, as well as private employers who employ fewer than 20 full-time employees, are exempt from the requirement. Filing of bankruptcy by the employer or documentation of specific economic circumstances that directly and adversely affect the employer are included in the amendment's definition of "just cause."

This measure is a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment.

The official ballot title reads:

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning just cause for action against an employee by an employer, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting the discharge or suspension of an employee by an employer unless the employer has first established just cause; defining "just cause" to mean specified types of employee misconduct and substandard job performance, the filing of bankruptcy by the employer, or the simultaneous discharge or suspension of ten percent or more of the employer’s workforce in Colorado; requiring an employer to provide to an employee written documentation of the basis for his discharge or suspension; allowing an employee who believes he was discharged or suspended without just cause to apply for mediation to seek an award of back wages and reinstatement; allowing the mediator to assess costs for his services to the losing party and award attorneys fees to the prevailing party; and authorizing the general assembly to enact legislation to facilitate the purposes of this amendment.

Supporters

Protect Colorado’s Future, a coalition of advocacy groups, is the proponent of this initiative, as well as a very similar proposal, Initiative 76.

Protect Colorado's Future had raised more than $1.5 million by the beginning of May 2008 to support its ballot measures and to oppose the Right to Work Initiative. The biggest single contribution, $500,000, came from the Service Employees International Union. A Teamsters local contributed $250,000.[1]


Opponents

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce has expressed strong opposition this and several other measures being proposed by the Protect Colorado's Future coalition.

The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry said it was opposing both of the "just cause" proposals—Initiative 62, as well as Initiative 76—that would "take away from employers their ability to suspend or terminate workers except in certain, narrowly defined circumstances."[2]

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce launched a group called Coloradans for Responsible Reform, which is raising money from business interests to oppose this initiative as well as numerous other initiatives that they see as anti-business.[3]

The National Federation of Independent Business of Colorado announced May 1, 2008, that it has joined Coloradans for Responsible Reform in the effort.[3]


Status

The initiative's title has been set, but the petition form must be approved before circulating petitions for the measure. Supporters will need to collect 76,047 valid signatures to make the November 2008 ballot.

The measure survived a challenge from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, which appealed the language of the initiative before the Title Board, arguing that the initiatives did not constitute single subjects and would hurt Colorado businesses. The Title Board denied the motion, but the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce appealed the Title Board's ruling to the state Supreme Court. On May 15, 2008, the Supreme Court sided with the Title Board, affirming the title set.[4]


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