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. 



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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State employees need 6% and commitment to Partnership

During last year’s tough budget cycle, state workers were left without a raise (merit or cost-of-living). In the three years before that we had to fight with all our might to secure minimal raises, ranging from 1%-2.5% plus Merit Pay.

On August 1, the state released its annual compensation analysis, which revealed that state employee wages are falling further and further behind the private sector median, to the average of 5.7% this year.

Last year’s report showed that state employee base salaries were already 3% behind the market – we’re clearly headed in the wrong direction.

This year, Colorado WINS members will be advocating for a 6% across-the-board increase for all classified state employees (more…)

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CU-Boulder tries to squash the union

If you’ve been following the CU-Boulder Fight for $15, you know that CFO Kelly Fox has been meeting with WINS members since January. Discussions slowed down when Fox announced she wanted to circumvent the process workers agreed upon by refusing to meet with the elected delegation of union representatives.

Instead, Fox called for a meeting of CU-Boulder classified employees where her staff openly and brazenly denounced the union and ejected union staff from the meeting. Additionally, Interim Chief HR Officer Katherine Erwin decried the importance of workers coming together for a common cause and insisted that individuals represent themselves in discussions about pay, benefits and other job-related matters.

You can read more about the meeting at CU15now.com.

Clearly, we cannot let this stand. Colorado WINS members unite in the face of obstacles and don’t leave their colleagues out to fight for themselves, by themselves.

Let CU-Boulder and Kelly Fox know that union busting is NOT OK! Share this Facebook post with your friends to show solidarity with CU’s workers.

It is our right as state workers, whether we are at DHS, CU-Boulder or a correctional facility, to fight together, negotiate together and win together. 

The July 7 meeting with Fox and Erwin only brought more resolve to CU-Boulder workers to unite in their fight for a living wage.

We insist on our right to organize and be represented by our union. It’s only because we came together that we were able to push the administration to issue nearly 500 wage increases to lowest paid employees on our campus.

We will continue to recruit more members so that all voices of CU Boulder employees can be heard collectively.

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Colorado WINS statement on CCA’s Burlington prison closure

Colorado WINS has long advocated for the state disengaging from the private prison industry. It’s a morally indefensible industry and we shouldn’t use tax dollars to prop up parasitic business models.

These rural communities were sold a bill of goods: the prisons provide minimal jobs, with very low pay and dangerous working conditions. Hopefully some of the money saved from paying CCA is reinvested in real economic development for rural Colorado.



Read the Denver Post story here.

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