Campaigns

Mental and physical toll of work on America’s Correctional Officers

This is hardly news to Correctional Officers, but the occupational stress of working in prisons reduces life expectancy, increases heart disease, and manifests itself in higher rates of alcoholism and divorce rates. 

Below you’ll find links and excerpts of articles detailing the consequences of job stress in Correctional Officers.  (more…)

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Sunset Review of Psychiatric Technician Licensing

As required by the state, this year will trigger an automatic sunset review of the Psychiatric Technician licensing.

A sunset review is a regularly scheduled review into the regulations that govern a license and whether the regulation of such license needs to continue. This means an analyst will review information to determine whether the State Board of Nursing should continue regulating the Licensed Psychiatric Technician (LPT) program. 

Colorado WINS member believe it is crucial that LPT licenses continue to be issued, regulated, and reviewed by the State Board of Nursing, because it protects the welfare of our vulnerable population, keeps standards high for LPTs, and ensures program efficacy statewide. 

Psychiatric technicians are caregivers for mentally ill or developmentally disabled individuals who are institutionalized and are at great risk of inadequate care due to the often extreme nature of their illnesses. These patients require specialized care not necessarily available in a traditional medical setting.

LPTs work at many CDHS facilities, including the Mental Health Institutes at Pueblo and Ft. Logan, Regional Centers in Pueblo, Grand Junction, and Wheat Ridge, as well as in other state-run centers and institutes. Psychiatric Technicians fill an ongoing critical void in the health care delivery system. LPTs are uniquely equipped, through their education and license, to help the vulnerable populations they serve on their recovery journey.

The impact of not employing Licensed Psychiatric Technicians at CDHS facilities would be a substantial loss. The workload of the Registered Nurses would increase dramatically, safety and security would be greatly impacted, and patient care would suffer.

We believe the licensing of LPTs should continue to be done by the State Board of Nursing, and not be relocated under the jurisdiction of the Colorado Dept. of Human Services.

By regulating and licensing the Psychiatric Technician Licenses, the State Board of Nursing ensures the quality of patient care is optimal and remains at a high standard. Not regulating and not licensing the Psychiatric Technicians could jeopardize the health and welfare of this vulnerable population and significantly lowers the level of consumer protection.

The State Board of Nursing provides oversight of the accreditation of the educational program, examination process, and keeps licensing and regulation separate from CDHS. This is necessary to provide transparency, keep standards high, and avoid any conflicts within the department where LPTs work. 

If you would like to submit a comment about the Sunset Review of the LPT program, please click here, fill out the required information and select “Psychiatric Technicians, Regulation of – 2018” from the drop-down menu. 

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MHI direct care pays raises won

As part of the state budget, also known as the Long Bill, the legislature approved salary adjustment raises for direct care staff in the two Mental Health Institutes in Pueblo and Ft. Logan.

Almost 5 years ago nursing staff at Ft. Logan brought forward concerns about veteran staff making the same as or less than new hires. This issue had also been raised by social workers at CMHIP. From there the issue was brought to the employee management committee, the DHS Partnership team, and finally to the state legislatfivere.

union-differenceIt was WINS members, who for four long years continuing to push the issue and worked to find a solution, that made this possible.

We know this raise is just a stepping stone in fixing our state’s broken pay system. 

Other job classes, departments, and facilities are still losing valuable and experienced staff without clear mechanisms to help move staff through their salary range. WINS members are continuing to show their dedication to fixing these and other problems.

If you’re not a member of Colorado WINS, join today

Back story:

Fort Logan RNs came together in WINS to work in partnership with the Department of Human Services to address the increasing issue of compression pay at Fort Logan. This campaign expanded to CMHIP staff who were experiencing the same compression issues.

Salary compression is costing the state talented workers as pay stagnates for veteran workers while new workers come in at a higher rate. 

Last June, CMHIP members rallied outside their facility for better pay and working conditions. As we worked with DHS management, the campaign eventually encompassed all the DHS Facilities.

From the work of WINS members meeting with DHS executive management, DHS submitted a request in 2018 to the Joint Budget Committee to adjust all of the 24/7 workers’ salaries. Unfortunately, this request didn’t make it through the Joint Budget Committee into the Long Bill, which is the bill that appropriates money for the state budget including state employee pay.

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WINS members from southern Colorado with Sen. Leroy Garcia.

However, when the Long Bill got to the floor of the House, Rep. Daneya Esgar from HD 46, made an amendment for the salaries at the 2 state hospitals, Fort Logan and CMHIP, where DHS is suffering severe staffing shortages. This amendment passed the house.

It then went to the Senate where it was initially stripped out of the Long Bill. Following up on that, Sen. Leroy Garcia from SD3 and Larry Crowder from SD35 moved the same amendment Rep. Esgar made in the house and it stayed on through the third reading!

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How does semi-monthly pay compare to bi-weekly?

During the last few weeks we’ve received a lot of feedback from folks about the switch to bi-weekly or semi-monthly pay. While WINS members have been primarily focused on PERA changes and raises for state employees in the long bill, we have been sharing what information we can about this change whenever we get it. We have received some new information from the Department of Personnel and Administration about exactly how semi-monthly pay would function.

Most people believe semi-monthly pay periods (paid twice each month instead of every two weeks) would be calculated by simply splitting monthly salaries in half. While this is true for some state employees who are overtime exempt (about 35%) it is not true for anyone earning overtime. The graphs below provide examples of how pay periods and amounts would break down in a semi-monthly pay system.

Take a look at the information below as well as the DPA website about the pay switch. A bill has not been put forward yet to switch to bi-weekly pay, but there is one week left in the legislative session for this to happen. In either case, monthly pay will no longer be an option by the end of this year.

If you still have questions or concerns submit them here.

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WINS Members’ Work on Your Next Check!

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The work that WINS members did to secure a raise for state employees will be in your next check.  Members’ efforts will be felt by all state employees as that put that extra bit into the bank this month.  Numerous postcards, calls and conversations with legislators helped deliver a decent raise in a time of a not-so-decent economic forecast.  If you are already a member, make your union stronger by asking your coworkers to join.  If you aren’t a member, thank a member by joining today.  When we stand together, we win.

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Open enrollment runs until May 15

If you’re looking to make changes to your healthcare plan for the upcoming fiscal year, your chance to do so starts today. 

Colorado’s open enrollment starts today and runs through May 15, 2017.

open-enrollmentOpen enrollment period is the one time of year when workers can make changes to their Health/Life/Dental policies.

If you are happy with your coverage, you do not need to make any changes, your current plan choices will roll over into the next plan year, unless you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). 

If you hava a FSA or would like to make changes to your coverage, you have until May 15 to make updates your plan. 

Please note: open enrollment at the University of Colorado (all campuses) runs through May 12. 

It appears that only CU has its own Open Enrollment deadline, but if you work at a higher education institution, please check with your Human Resources department to make sure you don’t miss the deadline for healthcare coverage. 

Health & Dental premiums

Three of the four available healthcare plans have had changes to the premiums cost: two are increasing slightly and one is decreasing. There are no changes to the cost of the dental plan premiums. 

You can see the cost differences in the matrix on the right. healthcare premium rate comparison 16-17 vs 17-18 matrix

You have until May 15 to make changes to your healthcare plan, so take a moment to review your options today.

If you have any questions about open enrollment or benefit plans, please contact your department’s benefit administrator (link at the very bottom of the page). 

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JBC reaches raise deal

The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) has reached a deal on raises for state employees. Budget writers agreed on a 1.75% across-the-board increase with an additional 0.75% in Merit Pay increases, for a total of 2.5% raise. 

While this increase is small, this is the first time in more than a decade that Colorado’s classified state employees will receive a raise in a year when the state is facing a deficit. 

The revenue forecast for Fiscal Year 2017/18 comes in at nearly $400 million short of what is needed to cover current levels of spending. The JBC had to make major cuts to a number of spending areas, including K-12 education ($75 million), transportation ($110 million), and hospitals ($264 million from the General Fund, which results in a total loss of more than half a billion dollars, after the federal government matches state funds). 

In fact, the $48.8 million for state employee raises was one of the few areas of additional funding in next year’s budget, which also included $4.7 million to hire additional 60 employees in the Div. of Youth Corrections. 

union-differenceThis raise comes as a result of months of hard work from Colorado WINS members.  (more…)

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Best things about 2016

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.

2017-COPE-summit-badgeWe will talk about our past accomplishments and our future goals at the COPE Summit, held in Denver on January 14.

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.

(more…)

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Parole: Update on AR 100-39

Last week, four Parole Officers from across the state and WINS Field Director Hilary Glasgow met with Parole Director Melissa Roberts, Prisons Director Travis Trani, Chief HR officer Rick Thompkins and DOC Inspector General Jay Kirby to discuss, among other things, the changes to AR 100-39. 

If you want more details about the meeting and other Parole updates, contact Hilary Glasgow to find out how to join a conference call on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 6 pm.

In October, Parole officers reached out to Colorado WINS with their concerns about the AR, which did not discern Parole Officers from other officers within DOC.  This prompted fears of loss of protections and created the opening to deprofessionalize Parole Officers. 

In last week’s meeting, DOC executive staff said they adjusted the draft to better define and separate Parole Officers from other employees in DOC. Management read changes from their copy, which was not given to the WINS negotiating team, and Parole officers in attendance agreed that the newly adjust document addressed the concerns of WINS Parole members. The executive team said they adjusted the AR a few weeks back but wanted to meet with WINS members before releasing the new draft to make sure nothing was overlooked.

However, when the second draft of AR 100-39 came out, it didn’t spell out the difference between Parole Officers and Corrections Officers as described in the meeting. We will continue to push back on this issue to ensure there is a clear distinction for Parole Officers in the AR.

Cars, Guns, and Back Taxes

On Monday, The Denver Post published an article which detailed an internal state audit that found a large number of state employees may owe back taxes for driving a department car to commute to and from work.

WINS Executive Director Tim Markham has been in talks with Dept. of Personnel and Administration (DPA) and the Governor’s office and is advocating that state employees be held harmless for the state’s mistake. So far, all we know that the matters will be handled by each department individually (not through DPA), and will not be addressed until at least Spring of 2017.

For more updates about AR 100-39, the personal use of state vehicles and other Parole issues, contact Hilary Glasgow to find out how to join a conference call on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 6 pm.

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Where we go from here: raises, partnership, Stewards

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. 

The other thing that’s resoundingly clear: nobody can fix this for us but ourselves.

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.

Fortunately, our union gives us strength. It gives us the power to bring change.

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. 

What will you do? If you want to take charge of your future, become a Rapid Response Team member right now.

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. 

 

Partnership

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.

Don’t wait: if a raise, good working conditions and a voice in your workplace are high on your list of priorities, become a Rapid Response Team member right now. 

If you’re ready for the fight, I’m ready to fight alongside you.

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