COWINS March Digest: Pay raises, healthcare and growing your union

Our hard work is beginning to pay off, especially in the legislature where the Senate has just approved the 2% salary survey increase. Our elected officials are also considering Senate Bill 210, which tackles the confusing 28-day work period in the Dept. of Corrections.

Joe Rogers, standing in back, leads an info session about Colorado WINS at HCPF in Denver.

Joe Rogers, standing in back, leads an info session about Colorado WINS at HCPF in Denver.

Our members have been active in their own right, urging their coworkers to join our organization and showing them how Colorado WINS has made a difference in the lives of state employees.

At Health Care Policy and Finance, member Joe Rogers organized three info sessions led by WINS elected leadership. The meetings discussed Colorado WINS’ history, our current actions and campaigns and why strength in numbers leads us to greater victories. More than 60 members and non-members from Denver’s Capital Corridor attended the meetings and Joe recruited 4 new members in a single day of his campaign.

Read more about our recent actions:

Stay connected to what’s happening at Colorado WINS. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@CoWINSpolitics) or text COWINS to 787-753 to get crucial updates by text message.

The latest on compensation

wage-campaign-buttonIf you’ve been following the fight for an across-the-board base-building increase, you know that there have been twists and turns in the journey. As for now, the Long Bill (2013-14 state budget) has passed the Senate on a party-line vote and is now headed for debate in the House. All 15 Republican members of the Senate voted against the bill, citing the state employee raise and appropriation cuts for for-profit prisons as points of contention. They also attempted to reduce the 2% increase to 1.5%, but Senate Democrats defeated the measure.

We have come to an agreement with the Dept. of Personnel and Administration (DPA) to ensure that 99% of the state workforce sees a 2% base-building increase, starting with their July paychecks.

DPA will take the following steps to ensure an across-the-board base-building raise:


These steps will create a base-building increase for nearly all state employees, although about 500 individuals will remain as outliers. These state employees, who are significantly beyond their range maximums due to unique circumstances, will still receive a 2% raise as a non-base-building lump sum payment at the end of FY13-14. All employees will be eligible for the Merit Pay increases based on their evaluation scores.

You can read more about the 2% salary survey increase, and read documents from DPA, on our website.

This is a win for our union and Colorado’s state employees. In addition to this across-the-board increase, the rest of the compensation package — the new merit pay system and full coverage of healthcare premium increases — remains intact. The result is a state budget that begins a much need economic recovery for Colorado’s state workforce.


Healthcare – lower premiums and voluntary wellness program

Starting July 1, your state employee out-of-pocket healthcare costs should decrease. WINS members secured additional funding from the legislature to cover Health/Life/Dental premium increases and are working to further reduce the cost of healthcare.

Elected WINS Healthcare Representatives during a meeting with DPA.

WINS Healthcare Representatives Nancy Fey, Joe Rogers, Skip Miller and Denise Roger Piel (left to right) during a meeting with DPA discussing the proposed wellness program.

Elected WINS Healthcare Representatives have been working in partnership with the Dept. of Personnel and Administration (DPA) to find healthcare cost-containment methods. A solution currently on the table is a statewide wellness program, which promotes healthier behaviors, offers incentives to participate and could be up and running by July 1, 2013.

“We have made progress towards a meaningful financial rebate for those who voluntarily choose to participate,” said Denise Rogers Piel, a WINS Healthcare Representative and Dept. of Corrections employee (pictured far right).

A good portion of the wellness discussion has centered around what it would take to encourage employees to be healthier. Colorado WINS members have been steadfast in making sure that any Wellness program must include:

  • Meaningful financial incentive to participate
  • Clear participation triggers to receive incentive
  • Employee oversight and an institutional role for Colorado WINS

If you have questions or would like to contribute to our wellness program discussion, email


Lobby Day

For the fifth year in a row, Lobby Day brought together WINS members and their families with their elected officials. This year, our members discussed long-overdue pay raises, improved staffing and scheduling for correctional officers, and the state’s budget priorities around for-profit prisons.

Members from around the state, from Durango to Sterling, spoke with their legislators about making the approved 2% raise into a base-building increase for all state employees.


Colorado WINS members during Lobby Day 2013.

Colorado WINS members during Lobby Day 2013.

Patti Ortiz, who works at Adams State University met with her Representative, Ed Vigil (D-Alamosa).

“We urged him to vote for a 2% base building raise for everyone,” said Ortiz. “And we reminded him of how important public employees at Adams State are to the economy of the San Luis Valley.”

Members also urged legislators to take a stand against for-profit prisons and support Senate Bill 210, which promotes fair scheduling and transparency in timekeeping in the Dept. of Corrections.


Higher Education


The WINS legal team is battling a wave of exemptions that happened as a result of 2011’s HB 1301, which allowed Universities to exempt more professional employees and also employees whose positions are not funded by state general funds.

Last year, WINS legal staff assisted several employees in filing grievances challenging specific exemptions at four Colorado universities, two of which are being reviewed by an Administrative Law judge now. The other two challenges will go to a full evidentiary hearing in April. We expect the Mesa and Mines challenges to be set for hearing sometime in June.


Dept. of Corrections


Colorado WINS is leading efforts for SB 210, legislation introduced in mid-March that would improve timekeeping and overtime compensation for corrections officers. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Angela Giron and Rep. Crisanta Duran, would decrease the length of the work period, give greater flexibility in staffing facilities and utilize an automated timekeeping system, among other solutions.

Our DOC members are also urging lawmakers to take a stand against for-profit prisons. Colorado WINS recently released a new report advocating for a new “state beds first” policy that would prioritize filling state beds before for-profit ones. Click here to read the full report, “Imprisoned by Profit: Breaking Colorado’s Dependence on For-Profit Prisons.” We are hearing voices in support of our cause from across the state, including the conservative Colorado Springs Gazette.

The POWER team, a group of WINS organizers focused on growing membership at specific facilities, in the midst of a campaign at the Denver Complex, which includes the Denver Reception & Diagnostic Center (DRDC) and the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility (DWCF). Denver Complex workers are meeting with the POWER team to create a plan that addresses local workplace problems while connecting the facility to the larger partnership and legislative work of the union. If you’re a Denver Complex employee and want to be part of the campaign, email Damon Coulter at


Regularly scheduled events

Capital Corridor meeting: Every Wednesday at 12 p.m.
Location: DHS headquarters in Denver.

WINSday – Pueblo – April 10, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. @ COWINS Pueblo office
Location: 304 S. Union Ave, Pueblo

WINSday – Denver – April 17, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. @ COWINS headquarters
Location: 2525 W. Alameda Ave, Denver

Dept. of Corrections call: Every second Wednesday of the month
Number: (888) 557-8511; Access code: 3939348#

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