Steward’s blog: Lead the charge on raises

The legislative session is now in full swing and, unlike last year, there is a raise proposal on the table this year.

What does a possible salary increase mean for us as Stewards? It means we’ll have a fight on our hands and Stewards will need to lead the charge in our facilities. 

We’ll have to talk to members and potential members about:

  • The gap in salaries between the private and public sector. We know that state worker salaries are nearly 6% behind private sector wages and the longer the state waits to close this gap, the larger and more expensive it will become.
  • Budget realities of the next fiscal year. The Governor proposed a 2.5% increase for state workers. It’s not nearly enough to bridge the gap to 6%, but it’s a start, especially in a budget year with a bleak economic forecast during which most state departments are taking a cut. 
  • Rising Health/Life/Dental premiums. In his budget, the Governor remained committed to keeping the state funding of H/L/D premiums at current levels (the state covers 80% of total premium costs). We know premiums will go up, but we don’t yet know by how much. We will need to make sure healthcare remains affordable across Colorado and doesn’t offset raises for state employees. Healthcare premium rates should be announced either in late March or early April, with open enrollment period usually running from mid-April to mid-May. 
  • Getting motivated to fight for a raise, together. This is what a union is all about: coming together so our voices stand out above the static of other interests jockeying for money from the legislature. We will not only have to fight to get what we deserve, we will most likely have to get defensive, to make sure the Governor’s proposal is not cut. 

Deepen your skills and engage your coworkers

How can you get ready to tackle these issues, be informed so you can share facts with your coworkers, and stay motivated until the session ends? Here are a few ideas:

And all the while, we need to focus on growing our union by recruiting new members to join our ranks. The only way to win this raise, and make sure it’s not diminished by competing interests, is to grow our strength by growing our numbers. 

Who will you ask to join Colorado WINS next?

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