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Colorado State Employee Spotlight: Shawnee Lorimore

Today’s online shout-out goes to Shawnee Lorimore. Shawnee works for the Department of Corrections as a culinary instructor at Trinidad Correctional Facility.

 

Colorado State Employee Spotlight: Shawnee Lorimore 

“I’m really popular because I feed everybody,” Shawnee joked recently.

At the end of the day, Shawnee is preparing much more than food, though. She’s teaching vital life and jobs skills that help reduce criminal recidivism by enabling offenders become more successful and productive members of the community.

“She brings out the best in these guys and she brings out the best in all of us,” Shawnee’s colleague Pauline Boyd explained.

A Colorado State Employee Making a Difference

Trinidad is not the state’s largest correctional facility. Nonetheless, Shawnee’s program had some of the highest culinary program completions in Colorado’s Department of Corrections.

Shawnee’s impact isn’t just a question of numbers either.

Once, a long-absent father preparing to be paroled wanted Shawnee to teach him to cook for his family. He’d been incarcerated for much of his children’s lives and was going to be a single father.

“He wanted to be able to establish a home — and food had always been at the center of his family,” Shawnee remembered. “Those moments are priceless.”

Proud to Serve Colorado

For people like Shawnee, working for the state is more than just a job:

“I am so proud to be an employee of the state and work for the Department of Corrections,” Shawnee said. “Working for DOC isn’t a glamorous job, but I am so proud of what I do.”

Shawnee is just one of nearly 29,000 state employees in Colorado, dedicated workers who provide vital public services every hour of the day and every day of the year. The Department of Corrections alone helped 1,110 people complete programs to promote successful community reintegration and reduce criminal recidivism.

Join the Union

Despite the contributions of hardworking people like Shawnee, state employee pay has lagged even as the cost of housing, healthcare and other essentials has skyrocketed in the state.

As a result, the Department of Corrections and other agencies and departments face increasing staff turnover and chronic understaffing that undermine public employees and the services we provide.

 

State employees are stronger when we stand together. Please join Colorado WINS and help advocate for workers like Shawnee — and you.

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State Employee Spotlight: Rana Gonzales, Human Services

State workers make important contributions each and every week, day, and hour of the year. Today we’re spotlighting Rana Gonzales, a Health Care Liaison who’s worked at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo for 15 years.

Rana Gonzales, DHS
 

Meet Rana

“I care deeply about the work that I do to help patients meet their mental health care goals so that they can leave the hospital and hopefully return to a healthy and independent life in their community,” Rana recently told state legislators.

Her co-worker Lucy Munoz, says Rana is “extremely knowledgeable in her job and the mental health field.”

“She has a passion for her job that is not seen often enough,” says Lucy. “Rana is not afraid to help nursing staff when things get hectic. She is a great asset to our facility and to our patients. As a long time coworker and friend she inspires me to be a better patient advocate.”

Rana is also an active member of Colorado WINS. She worked hard this spring to advocate for state employees at the Capitol and on the job.

“I love this work but sometimes I wonder if I can keep doing it. My department is critically short staffed,” Rana told legislators.

“If we had a stronger voice and a way to enforce agreements we reach with the State, we could help improve services, she continued. “It is critical that we have the right to collectively bargain with the state. We are one of only 16 states where state employees do not have this freedom.”

“We want a real partnership with the state to fix understaffing and improve the quality of services.”

Join the Union

 


State employees are stronger when we stand together. Please join Colorado WINS and help advocate for workers — and you.

Join the Union

 


 

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Collective Bargaining for Colorado State Employees Update

State employees in Colorado are rising. Colorado WINS president Skip Miller explains what’s happening in our campaign to secure the freedom to collectively bargain for nearly 29,000 state employees — and why YOUR voice is needed to improve pay, benefits, and working conditions for state employees.

  1. Watch the video
  2. Join the Union (Or Update Your Contact Info)
  3. The Road Ahead

(more…)

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Study: collective bargaining leads to better state services, reduced costs for taxpayers

Chronic understaffing and skyrocketing turnover rates cost the state of Colorado $48 million in 2018. Today, one in five authorized state jobs is vacant, undermining some of Colorado’s most essential public health and protection services. State employees on the frontlines every day know how to address these challenges but they need effective tools to do it.

Last week, the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) released a white paper that establishes collective bargaining as one of those tools. Collective Bargaining can Reduce Turnover and Improve Public Services in Colorado clearly shows that giving state employee the freedom to collectively bargain a union contract brings better services to Colorado communities.

During testimony at the Colorado House State Affairs hearing April 9, Rich Jones, the author of the white paper, said, “Academic research in this area shows that collective bargaining, and giving workers more control, more voice in their jobs and their operations, gets greater commitment and results in lower turnover rates.” He pointed out that when compared to other Western states, turnover in Colorado’s Department of Human Services is among the highest.   

“Having unions and collective bargaining helps implement the use of high-performance work practices [that] give employees more say on the job and result in stronger performance,” Jones testified. He added that collective bargaining can also lead to safer workplaces and increased “quality and effectiveness of services provided to Coloradans.”

$48 million (2)

 

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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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In the news: Unions expected setback from Supreme Court (Pueblo Chieftain)

Pueblo Chieftain | June 29, 2018 | Unions expected setback from Supreme Court

Public-employee unions were stung by the U.S. Supreme Court decision this week barring them from collecting dues from non-member workers, but it was not unexpected, according to Hilary Glasgow, executive director of the Colorado WINS union for state employees.

“We’ve seen (this decision) coming for a long time,” Glasgow told a small Pueblo audience of both public union employees and local candidates for office. “But we’re not giving up. Where unions are strong, everyone benefits from higher pay and benefits.” (more…)

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In the news: A major change to state employees’ pay fails (Denver Post)

Denver Post | May 14, 2018 | A major change to state employees’ pay fails, and the botched rollout may cost taxpayers even more

Gov. John Hickenlooper pushed for switch to biweekly lag pay without first getting approval from Colorado lawmakers

A significant shift to the payroll schedule for 27,000 state employees will no longer take place in July as expected, after the move failed to win approval from Colorado lawmakers.

The botched debut may cost the state as much as $5 million and represents yet another budget-busting delay for the implementation of a troubled $41.6 million human resources software system. (more…)

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In the news: Letter to the editor: Support PERA (Alamosa Valley Courier)

Alamosa Valley Courier | Feb 28, 2018 | Letter to the editor: Support PERA

Have you ever thought about how many people in your town work for the state of Colorado? I am one of them. When I hear that an individual just obtained a state job my reply is, “Good for him, that is a job he can retire from.”

I am an employee at the Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Home Lake, one of the many state facilities here in the San Luis Valley. As state employees we are fortunate to be part of a benefit program that is defined and maintained by PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association). Other State of Colorado employees of the San Luis Valley that are enrolled in a PERA benefit plan include: Colorado State Patrol, Adams State University, and Trinidad State College. I found that if I look in the phone book of Alamosa and the surrounding communities there are three rows of listings under Colorado State Government with many entities from the Department of Agriculture, to the Division of Wildlife. Just think, each town in Colorado has its own state and government businesses. The facility I work for alone employs over 80 individuals. As you can figure, the scope of the number of people that are PERA members, recipients, and inactive members is enormous. (more…)

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In the news: Speaking for the laborers on Labor Day

Alamosa Valley Courier | Sept. 6, 2016 | Letter to the editor: Speaking for the laborers on Labor Day

This Labor Day, I am grateful for my job at the Veterans Community Living Center at Homelake, which provides me with good benefits. I make a living wage and have paid days off to spend time with my loved ones. But I, like many other state employees who work in 24/7 facilities, will be working on Labor Day.

Fortunately for me, I only need one job to make ends meet, but for too many working people that simply isn’t the case.

Many Coloradans will spend this Labor Day working a second or third job, desperately trying to make enough money to pay rent and afford groceries. They are forced to rely on minimum wage jobs that do not cover the most basic of living expenses. Instead of spending time with their families on Sundays and holidays, they are working to pay the bills. (more…)

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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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