I think we can all agree, it’s been a long year.
With the national and local elections unfolding throughout the year, so many losses of influential and talented people, and so many other tragedies both on a global and local scale, most people are ready to let go of 2016.
But here at Colorado WINS we want to close the year by focusing on the positives – the accomplishments of our union brothers and sisters in their fight for quality public services, fair and equitable pay, and better conditions at state facilities for both staff and clients.
If you want to be part of the decision-making process about what we will fight for next year, I encourage you to attend the COPE Summit. If you live more than 75 miles outside of Denver, you may be eligible for a hotel room.
In a year with no raises, it’s still incredible how much we were able to accomplish, legislatively, at individual work sites, and in Partnership with the state.
Across the state
- CU-Boulder raised pay for nearly 500 low wage campus workers and addressed pay compression, a direct result of member action in 2015.
- Custodians at UCCS won a 2% wage increase after petitioning their campus Chief Financial Officer for an increase. They also joined with CU-Boulder employees to petition the University of Colorado Board of Regents for a $15/hour minimum wage for all CU system employees.
- More than 50 members attended Lobby Day in March. Workers from communities throughout Colorado were at the Capitol, including a contingent from Alamosa County who met with Senator Crowder. Nearly a dozen members from Chaffee and Fremont counties came to the Capitol to talk about the high cost of living and poor job opportunities in rural Colorado.
- We held statewide Steward elections. With more than 150 nominations and 60 Steward candidates members in facilities across the state elected 49 new Union Stewards, 25 of whom attended the inaugural Steward Convention in Colorado Springs.
- Members helped elect Vonda Hall to State Personnel Board. She ran unopposed and was confirmed for her second term on the SPB.
- In less than a month, more than 1400 members signed postcards to the Governor, telling him state employees need a 6% raise and a commitment to Partnership.
- Prevented retaliation at CU Boulder against union members active in the Fight for $15. So many calls poured into the office of Amy Beckstrom (Executive Director of Housing and Dining), that the University vowed to make fair and equitable decisions for affected workers. They were clear that our concerns were heard and your collective voice made the difference.
- More than 90 WINS members and staff volunteered for more than 150 shifts (that’s over 600 hours!) of their own time to help elect local candidates who demonstrated their support for state employees.
In the legislature
- The Governor’s proposal for the State to absorb health insurance premium increases passed in the 2016 legislative session. We successfully protected employee take home pay in a year in which almost every other budget item faced cuts.
- We secured full funding for Health/Life/Dental premiums and full funding for the state’s PERA contributions in FY 2016/17.
- Defeated a proposed amendment to take away $1 million in funding for staffing in DYC. This was a direct result of DYC members lobbying a legislator on Lobby Day.
- Successfully lobbied to keep full funding for nearly 100 jobs in the state’s Clean Air program, while some members of the legislature threatened to dismantle the program and cut state positions.
- WINS members endorsed 68 local candidates in Colorado’s elections by distributing questionnaires, holding interviews, and asking candidates questions about state employee issues.
- We successfully lobbied the Governor to include a raise proposal for state employees in his FY 2017/18 budget in a year when most public services will be getting cuts
In Partnership with Dept. of Human Services
- DHS has committed to prioritizing the reduction of overtime in 2017 through better staffing and scheduling.
- Addressing compression pay for nurses and social workers is a priority for DHS in 2017.
- Clarified student loan forgiveness programs for state employees. Workers can get more information through HR specialists at their facilities.
- DYC safety subcommittee is ongoing and making progress. DYC employees underwent training for working with youth with mental health needs.
- Strengthened language on facility EMCs (Employee Management Committees) creating issue-specific subcommittees to study work site problems.
- Members are involved in ongoing work on security concerns at several 24/7 facilities including Ft. Logan and WRRC to create safer environments for staff and clients.
- Ft. Logan’s committees on scheduling and assaults are working through the EMC. The scheduling subcommittee is working out various mock schedules that will be exploring 12 hour shifts, rotating weekends, and flex days all as different possibilities to solve morale issues related to scheduling. The assault committee released findings from a recent survey related to assaults and will be issuing recommendations from those findings after the new year.
- Fitzsimmons EMC has developed an anti-bullying policy for its staff, which is waiting on final approval from the division director.
- Members at DHS headquarters secured a deal for an Eco-Pass (an employer provided pass providing deeply discounted fares on RTD transportation).
- The department expanded access to DHS facilities and new employee orientations for Colorado WINS in order to organize workers.
As we look forward to 2017
We have big plans for the upcoming year. While we’re facing a tough budget year again, we will be fighting hard to make sure state employee wages don’t fall even further behind the market.
Last year, state worker wages were 3% behind a private sector. With no raise in 2016 that deficit fell to 6%. If we go one more year with a minimal or no raise, the problem will only keep growing the the price tag will only get bigger to catch up workers to market averages.
State legislators must make a raise for state employees a priority in this tough budget year. With a wage gap of 6%, we cannot continue to attract and retain quality public servants who will provide and administer state services on a level Colorado is used to.
Here are some of our goals for the upcoming year:
- Protecting a raise for state employees who are 6% behind market, and only falling further behind. With events happening nearly every month, the legislative session will be a busy one. We’re hosting the COPE Summit in January, expecting to challenge the Joint Budget Committee in February, we’ll lobby statewide legislators in March as the budget becomes clearer, and fight to find additional funding for Health/Life/Dental increases in April, when we learn what the increases will be.
- Working together to fight for systemic change in the Dept. of Corrections. Member leaders created a 5-point plan of problems and solutions to department-wide issues & will continue to engage senior administrators to enact change.
- Nurses are continuing their fight for fair pay based on years of experience at 24/7 facilities in the Dept. of Human Services.
- Workers at state universities are talking about the next steps in their Fight for $15 throughout the Dept. of Higher Education.
- We will hold DHS Partnership Team elections to nominate and select representatives from nursing homes, Dept. of Youth Corrections, Regional Centers, both state mental health institutes and at-large members who will represent workers at the Partnership table.
- Current Stewards will work to expand and strengthen the Steward Program at individual facilities and to connect Stewards state wide, so we can make workplace changes throughout our work places and on the state level.
We’ve got our big goals for the upcoming year and we’ll need our members to show up when needed.
If you can’t make it to the Summit, become a Rapid Response Team member, so we can call on you when we need member voices and actions to send a clear message at the Capitol or at various work sites.
Finally, we’d like to wish you and your families a safe, happy, and warm holiday season and a prosperous New Year.
End-of-year note: Colorado WINS offices will be closed for a Holiday break from Thursday, Dec. 22 to Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. Organizers will be monitoring emails and cell phones, but will not be reporting to the offices. If you need assistance, please contact your organizer directly.