This election left us with many questions, but one thing was resoundingly clear.
Working people sent a message on Nov 8: we are tired of low wages, we’re sick of losing jobs to outsourcing and privatization, and we’re fed up with how the corporate-political machine is treating us.
We’ve been failed over and over by bad policies and bad politicians, who don’t take care of the middle class. We won’t stand for that any longer.
Too often our great ideas are ignored because the people in power don’t listen. This happens both in politics and right here, in our own workplaces. The only way to change that is to demand our voice is heard and back it up with action.
That’s why, brothers and sisters, we have a lot of work ahead of us.
In our facilities, we need to make sure bosses hear from their employees. We need strong Stewards who can elevate our voices when we need to speak up and protect us when we face blow back. We need leaders in the workplace who will unite and guide us so that we can have strength in our solidarity.
On the state level, we need to defend and expand public services. While our work does not make us rich, it does make our communities richer. From child welfare enforcement and caring for our veterans to protecting our communities and safeguarding our air and water, every Coloradan depends on the diverse work of state employees in one way or another. As front line workers we have ideas on how to improve the services we provide and we should have a say in the future of state work.
And nationally, we need to fight to protect the guiding tenants of our freedom and democracy. We need to speak up to protect our rights in ways that are enshrined in the Constitution. We need an open dialogue about the things we all have in common, instead of the things that divide us. We need to shift the power dynamics of our political system and make sure all legislators work on our behalf, instead of working for corporations and big business.
As union members, we have the ability and resources to come together and create a vision for the future and a plan of how to get there. Members across departments are already talking to each other, planning next steps on our path.
- In the Dept. of Corrections, member leaders created a 5-point plan of problems and solutions to department-wide issues.
- In the Dept. of Human Services, nurses at 24/7 facilities are continuing their fight for fair pay based on years of experience.
- In Higher Education, workers at several state universities are talking about the next steps in their Fight for $15.
It’s up to us to take charge, make a plan, and see it through to completion.
What’s on deck?
Here are the important fights coming up in the next several months that members and I will be involved in.
A 2.5% raise for state employees
The legislative session starts on Wed, Jan. 11, 2017, but we will most likely hold actions in December 2016 as well, when the Joint Budget Committee meets to discuss the upcoming budget cycle (called the “common policies”).
Between now and April we’ll have to stay vigilant and be able to quickly respond to any political threats that may endanger our proposed raise. Sign up to become a Rapid Response Team member so that you can quickly act when needed.
On Saturday, January 14, members will come together for a Committee on Political Education (COPE) Summit to set the strategy for the legislative session, figure out our legislative priorities, and come up with tangible ways to secure the proposed 2.5% raise for state employees.
In March, we will continue our tradition of talking directly to legislators about our priorities at the State Capitol. hold our annual Lobby Day. We’ll focus on protecting the proposed 2.5% raise and finding additional resources to cover any Health/Life/Dental increases.
Throughout the year, we’ll hold Steward trainings and other ongoing educational opportunities for member leaders. We will also connect our Stewards over geographical and departmental divides, so we can work and strategize together in a large, inclusive group. It’s our goal to bolster facility leadership among union members, so that we can be organized in the face of obstacles.
In 2017, DHS members will elect representatives to the statewide Partnership Team, which has been meeting with upper level management of the Department since 2014. The team has representatives from nursing homes, Dept. of Youth Corrections, Regional Centers, both state mental health institutes and an at-large member.
Members in DOC will continue working together to fight for systemic change in Corrections. Low pay and morale have been weighing heavy on the staff in Corrections. Members are ready to push management with solutions.
The success of our plans and actions will heavily depend on how many members get involved in the fight. Don’t sit it out.
If you’re ready for the fight, I’m ready to fight alongside you.