by Pam Zubeck
As Mayor Steve Bach licks his chops over the prospect of selling Colorado Springs Utilities' electric division, it's interesting to note that one of the prime potential bidders has a union shop.
Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, which serves customers in eight states, has 1.4 million electric customers in Colorado, including the Denver area.
On its website, Xcel gives extensive information about its employees, including this:
Labor Union Relations
Approximately 53 percent of our employees are represented by unions. We work with our represented employees to build collaborative and mutually respectful relationships. We recognize that all parties benefit by working together to achieve mutual goals. Interim bargaining has been used for the past 13 years to improve union relations and promote collaboration. We hold regular meetings between management and labor unions in order to address grievances and avoid arbitration when possible.
While each collective bargaining agreement is negotiated with a specific local union, we include equal opportunity clauses in all our bargaining contracts. We also operate in compliance with the policies of the National Labor Relations Board, the statutes of the National Labor Relations Act and the guidance of the Department of Labor.
Historically, Colorado Springs hasn't been a very organized-labor friendly town, but if Xcel became the owner of the electric utility here, there's a likelihood some or all of those workers would join the unions, one of which is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
A study is under way to determine the value of Springs Utilities' power division, with a report due in May. Bach and others have said the money from a sale could be used on other municipal needs, such as stormwater drains and channels.
However, the city's own Sustainable Funding Committee recommended against selling in 2009, which we reported here.