Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
May 25, 2005
The Honorable Colorado House of Representatives
Sixty-Fifth General Assembly
First Regular Session
Denver, CO 80203
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am filing with the Secretary of State House Bill 05-1239, "Concerning the Provision of Unemployment Benefits to Employees Engaged in a Lockout." I vetoed this bill as of 12:26 p.m. today and this letter sets forth my reasons for doing so.
In 1999, I signed S.B.99-155, which established a balanced approach to unemployment issues during labor disputes. That legislation clarified the distinctive difference between a "defensive" and an "offensive" lockout. If an employer locks out employees in an attempt to impose the employer's offer in the bargaining process, those employees would be eligible for unemployment compensation. However, if an employer locked employees out as a defensive action to protect property or operations, employees would not be eligible for unemployment compensation. This evenhanded approach protects employers and employees alike during labor disputes.
The State of Colorado should not take sides in labor disputes. This bill would unfairly subsidize certain employers while on strike. H.B.1239 turns back the clock by reversing the sound, balanced policy defined in current law. The bill is clearly one-sided in its attempt to alter the definition of a lockout. In addition, if all locked-out employees, regardless of the situation, were able to collect unemployment compensation, it would place a substantial drain on the Unemployment Insurance fund. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment estimates that such a change could cost taxpayers $13 million.
H.B. 1239 is one-sided, and would reverse the current, balanced approach to awarding unemployment compensation in lockout situations. The bill accomplishes this objective at the taxpayers' significant expense. Accordingly, I have vetoed this bill.
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