The Tiger Lovers behind Ryan Frazier’s Right to Work Crusade

Amendment 47 has the eye of the tiger.

While "Ryan Frazier Puts His Job on the Line With Amendment 47," this week’s cover story, focuses on Ryan Frazier, the 31-year-old Aurora city councilman who’s backing the aforementioned amendment -- an issue on the November ballot that would prohibit mandatory dues for workers represented by unions -- he's not the only one pushing the issue. Much has been made about some of his colleagues, including Jonathan Coors, a young, reportedly conservative member of the Coors brewing family, and Julian Jay Cole, a Golden consultant who helps combat unions. But there are other movers and shakers behind the issue.

American Furniture Warehouse (AFW), which normally sticks to hawking couches and promoting tigers as pets, was recently identified as a key Amendment 47 supporter. Jake Jabs, AFW’s larger-than-life president, has been hitting the airwaves in commercials explaining that if Amendment 47 doesn’t pass, Colorado will be at an economic disadvantage to its neighboring states, many of which have right-to-work laws. Unfortunately, no tigers, which usually pop up in Jabs’ commercials, are involved in the ads. Jabs, who recently donated $10,000 to the campaign, last week held a press conference at his corporate headquarters to explain that while his stores haven’t been unionized and aren’t at risk of going in that direction – he says he pays higher salaries and provides better benefits than union workplaces – he’s promoting Amendment 47 "to frankly hurt the pocketbooks of the unions." Court documents also show that Andrew Zuppa, an AFW executive, attended organizing meetings for the ballot initiative and signed off on many of the campaign’s expenses.

American Furniture Warehouse may have been involved with the right to work issue from the very beginning. Campaign finance reports filed by Ryan Frazier for his successful 2007 city council re-election campaign show that AFW donated $1,000 to his efforts and provided $5,000 worth of ad production last summer and fall, during which time Frazier says plans for the ballot initiative were coming together.

Considering all of AFW’s connections to the ballot measure, any day now the pro-Amendment 47 campaign should surely be unleashing the tigers. -- Joel Warner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner

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