From today’s Colorado Public Radio:
Gov. Jared Polis opposes a plan from the legislature’s Democratic leaders that could allow hundreds of thousands of public employees to join unions and negotiate employment contracts.
Currently, public employees in Colorado are barred from collective bargaining, unless their employer or local voters specifically allow it. While state employees and workers for some cities and school districts have that right, it’s out of reach for people ranging from cleaning staff to emergency workers and others in many of the state’s cities, counties and universities.
State Sen. Steve Fenberg and state Rep. Daneya Esgar, the Democratic majority leaders of the legislature, said last month they wanted to make collective bargaining the rule, not the exception, for public employees. The bill to do that has not yet been introduced, but the idea already faces firm resistance from Polis.
“The Governor has made clear to the bill sponsors and advocates that he will not support the bill in its current form,” wrote Polis spokesperson Conor Cahill in an email. “… The door is open to a much narrower legislation to expand collective bargaining and the governors (sic) hopes the advocates engage local governments more earlier in this process.”
Cahill also pointed to earlier actions by the governor, including signing a 2020 law, HB20-1153, that allows state employees to collectively bargain, as well as a recent agreement to pay state-funded healthcare workers a minimum of $15 an hour.
Esgar has argued the bill is a way to ensure public employees are treated fairly — and that they don’t leave their jobs out of frustration — among rising costs of living.
“Colorado simply can’t afford to continue to lose these highly skilled essential workers because we’re failing to compete in the increasingly tight labor market,” she said last month.
Polis has vetoed only three bills in his first term, but he has used his executive influence to reshape Democratic proposals on climate change and other important concerns for the party.
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