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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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2.5%: It’s a start

From Executive Director Tim Markham:

Just about six weeks ago, I met with the Governor’s Chief of Staff and Budget Director to set out what we believed was a fair compensation strategy for Colorado’s most valued resource: state employees. I asked for a 6% raise (with additional funding for occupational groups even further behind the market) and a $15/hour minimum wage for all state employees.

This was exactly one day before a negative budget forecast slashed our best hopes at achieving all I set out for the Governor. The forecast showed a gap of nearly $330 million for this fiscal year alone, and a gap of even more than that in FY 2017/18.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Governor’s office released its annual budget request and, as we expected, it reflects the reality of a state still held hostage to TABOR.

September’s negative budget forecast has led to a number of proposed cuts to all areas of the state budget, including transportation, higher education and hospitals. 

Fortunately, one of the few areas where additional money is being invested is state employee compensation.

The Governor has proposed $48.8 million toward a 2.5% across-the-board increase for all classified state workers, $20.8 million toward increases in H/L/D premiums, and to “continue the State’s commitment to cover 80% of these insurance premium costs.” (more…)

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CU backs off union retaliation (for now)

If you were one of the many people who called University of Colorado about their union busting tactics, thank you!

Thanks to your swift and thunderous action, the University contacted us in the mid-afternoon to stop the action!

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 that your collective voice made the difference.

That said, our campaign to win a $15/hour minimum wage for all CU employees is ongoing. That means there may be times in the future when the University will try this or other intimidation tactics again.

Fighting for a living wage at CU we will stand firm in the face of obstacles, knowing we have the support of our union brothers and sisters throughout the state.

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URGENT: CSU call-in action today!

One of our union sisters at CSU has filed a sexual harassment case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and now University administration is retaliating against her.

Can you take 5 minutes right now to call CSU President Tony Frank and tell him that sexual assault and victim-blaming will not be tolerated?

Frank has been an outspoken ally in the fight against sexual assault among students, but he may not be aware that his own staff faces these challenges daily.

Call 844-326-3658 and say you have a message for President Frank, then say the following:

President Frank:

The issue of sexual assault on campus isn’t just about students, it affects University employees, too. Take a strong stand against sexual violence among your own staff and tell Facilities Management Assistant Director Sandy Sheahan to stop retaliation against sexual assault victims. As you’ve said yourself, it’s on us to stop sexual assault, and you should start with your own staff.

This is not the first time we’ve seen retaliation against union members who stand up for themselves and their coworkers, but to be targeted after an experience as traumatic as sexual harassment is especially heinous.

Please take 5 minutes right now to call CSU and tell President Frank that it’s on HIM to stop sexual assault among his own staff. 

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CU-Boulder retaliates against union members active in Fight for $15

UPDATE: Thank you to all who have made calls on behalf of CU’s low wage workers. We just received word that the University has heard us and is working to address the issues we brought up. At this time we are not routing any more calls to the University.

Thank you for your support!


Boulder – Disciplinary actions have been brought up for at least three members of Colorado WINS who have been involved in the on-campus fight for a living wage for all workers. Colorado WINS is the union that represents the state’s classified employees.

Last year, workers on the University of Colorado Boulder campus began an organized campaign for a $15/hour minimum wage for all campus employees. Under pressure from its workers, the University acknowledged low pay was a problem for many service positions on campus and issued minor raises to nearly 500 employees.

Since then, University administrators have carried out union-busting tactics such as removing union representatives from open employee meetings, bringing unwarranted disciplinary action against workers, and refusing to engage in pay discussions with a peer-elected group of union members.

Colorado WINS union members, and some student organizations, will hold a call-in on Wednesday, asking administrators to pull the disciplinary actions and will engage in direct action on Thursday and Friday if the write-ups are upheld.

 

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Statement: Pueblo Regional Center CMS report

Colorado WINS is issuing the following statement in response to a disturbing Center for Medicaid Services report on conditions at the Pueblo Regional Center for the developmentally disabled.

“This report is concerning for everyone involved, and any kind of abuse is intolerable,” said Executive Director Tim Markham. “The vast majority of PRC staff are hardworking, dedicated public servants, and we appreciate DHS management’s quick communication with those workers about the CMS report.”

“We will continue to advocate for adequate staffing and improving staff retention for the safety of residents and workers alike through the Partnership with DHS. One of the ways we can help is by facilitating communication from front line staff about problems so they can safely report concerns. Effective, early communication is critical to protecting both residents and workers in the future.”

“And we agree wholeheartedly with the Governor when he says that, ‘compensation for these difficult jobs is very low.’ In order to recruit and retain the best quality public servants the compensation issue must be addressed. We’re confident that the Governor and his team have heard the workers on this and will make compensation a priority.”

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State employee raise MUST be a priority for 2017 legislative session

From Executive Director Tim Markham

Dear members,

Today, I have both good and bad news to bring you.

First, the good. On Monday, I met with the Governor’s staff to deliver 1400 signatures and set our demands. I asked that the Governor include the following in his Nov. 1 budget proposal:

  • a 6% raise for all classified state employees
  • additional funding for occupational groups disproportionately behind market (as outlined in DPA’s report)
  • a $15/hour minimum wage for all state employees

The meeting went well, with the Governor’s staff receptive and open to discussion about pay issues in the state workforce. I also emphasized the importance of matching pay increases with a firm commitment to Partnership, so that front line employee voices can be heard by facility decision makers. (more…)

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