Independence Institute spokesman says Associated Press got only a part of his point

If you were falling asleep while reading an Associated Press article Sunday about Colorado’s unions, this paragraph should have startled you into full consciousness:

“Ben DeGrow, an education analyst who studies teachers’ unions for the right-leaning Independence Institute in Golden, insists there is no organized movement to cripple unions in Colorado.”

Now hold on a minute, you’re thinking, DeGrow’s own organization has been leading an organized effort to cripple unions for years, especially by trying to cripple unions by stopping them from being able to automatically collect dues directly from state payrolls. (Recall Amendment 49 and similar potentially crippling efforts.)

Asked about this via email, DeGrow wrote:

“I don’t recall the AP reporter or anyone asking me about the existence of …an organized movement to cripple unions in Colorado.’ I told her that unions in general, and public employee unions in particular, are neither as strong nor as pervasive here in Colorado as they are in Wisconsin, and that for various reasons we’re not going to see the same kind of law as SB 11 proposed in Wisconsin (a bill that impacts a large share of public employee unions, and has nothing to do with private employee unions).”

I asked DeGrow if the AP misquoted him. He wrote:

“I’m not sure if it can be considered a misquote since there are no quotation marks, but as written it certainly misses the point of our discussion as I see it. The reporter and I primarily discussed public employee unions, a distinction I was careful to make, one that I elaborated on in a blog post last week for Ed News Colorado.

DeGrow told me that another sentence in the AP story, which was widely distributed, “captured a part” of his point. That sentence was:

“DeGrow pointed out that Colorado employees already contribute to their pension funds, a major area of contention in Wisconsin, and that Colorado’s 42 teachers’ unions bargain locally, not on a state level.”

As to whether the Independence Institute is an organized movement, trying to cripple unions, DeGrow wrote me:

“First, I don’t know who would consider the Independence Institute …an organized movement.’ Second, the I.I. has researched, written and advocated for greater accountability from public employee unions. Third, the I.I. always has upheld employees’ rights of free association and free speech, by attempting to protect people from having their money taken involuntarily and then used to support causes which they do not personally support. What would the implications be of equating that view with …crippling unions’?

Amendment 49 and related initiatives promoted by the I.I. were designed to create a level playing field by preventing any group, including public employee unions, from using government payroll systems as a means of dues collection. Nothing in these proposals would end the ability of a union or any other group to collect dues freely from supporting members.”

One Response to “Independence Institute spokesman says Associated Press got only a part of his point”

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