Gov. Polis calls for collective bargaining rights for state employees

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DENVER — Flanked by several state employees and much of statehouse delegation from Pueblo, Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, announced his support for allowing state employees to negotiate for better pay and benefits.

“Today’s announcement is a huge step toward meaningful partnerships that support our hardworking state employees who want to help deliver state services better and do their work more efficiently,” Polis said in a statement. “By formalizing these partnerships information will flow better from workers to management and voice of people will be heard. Together we can improve morale and reduce turnover by working to improve the workplace environment.”

Colorado is one of 16 states that does not allow collective bargaining for employees. Colorado WINS, the union for state employees, joined the press conference Friday.

Rep. Daneya Esgar, a Democrat from Pueblo, said one of eight people in Pueblo is employed by the state and the state is the area’s largest employer.

“Really, the need for this is way past due. State jobs just aren’t what they used to be,” Esgar said. “We’re behind when it comes to what we pay versus the private industry. We want to make sure that the benefits that we offer our state employees are actually benefits that help move them forward.”

The exact specifics of how the system will work aren’t known yet, as the legislation tied to the idea has not been introduced. Fox21 News is told, it will come next week.

State Senator and Senate President Leroy Garcia said in a statement, he was proud to support the legislation.

“Colorado state employees work tirelessly for us, and they deserve to be able to advocate for themselves and their families,” Garcia said.

About 20 percent of the positions in the state are not filled at this time and Esgar believes, the state’s booming economy is making it harder to recruit the employees they need. She said this legislation will help attract those workers.

“We need an economy that works for every Coloradan, in all corners of our state,” Esgar said in a statement. “By guaranteeing state workers the right to join a union and negotiate for better pay and benefits, this bill moves us closer to that goal.”

The Denver Post reports, Governor Polis opposed similar legislation from 2019.

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