Union Coalition Secures State Worker Ballots

At least three groups of state employees will participate in a mail-in vote to unionize under a labor coalition after ballot petitions passed one of the last administrative hurdles earlier this week.
Union coalition Colorado WINS turned in five petitions in late March seeking a union election for five groups of state workers. The groups include employees in administrative support, enforcement services, physical sciences, labor trades and health care services.

Colorado’s labor division had designated a period of time for additional union groups to submit ballot petitions for state workers. Other labor organizations were given until April 11 to turn in petitions for the enforcement group of state workers, and the labor trades and physical sciences groups had until April 16.

Both deadlines have passed without another labor organization submitting calls for union elections, according to state labor division data, meaning that those three groups of state employees will likely see mail-in ballots by next month to vote to form a union under Colorado WINS.

The petition deadline for the administrative support group is April 23, and health care services will see a petition cut-off date of April 21.

In November, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter issued an executive order recognizing state workers’ efforts to form employee organizations that negotiate workplace issues.

Colorado WINS is composed of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); the Colorado Association of Public Employees/Service Employees International Union (CAPE/SEIU); and the American Federation of Teachers

How The Process Works

A union is required to submit petitions to the state division of labor showing that 30 percent of the total number of covered employees in a state worker group have requested an election. The petitions are then verified by an independent arbitration mediator, and the labor division sets a deadline for other union groups to submit petitions.

The independent mediator will then conduct a mail-in election of all applicable employees in the state worker group to decide on union representation. The petitioning union/s will cover the election expenses. Results will then be counted in the presence of both state and union representatives. The decision for unionization needs to be made by a majority of voters.

A Few State Worker Group Occupations

Administrative support – includes administrative assistants, drivers license examiners and customer service representatives

Enforcement services – includes corrections case managers, parole officers and criminal investigators

Physical sciences – includes engineers, landscape architects and land surveyors

Labor trades – includes electricians, custodians, barbers and groundskeepers

Healthcare services – includes physicians, social workers and nurses

Numbers

Colorado WINS has submitted petitions to unionize a total 17,236 covered employees so far, just more than half of the state’s estimated number of 32,000 state workers.

Administrative support – 4,759 eligible

Enforcement services – 1,624 eligible

Physical sciences – 1,911 eligible

Labor trades – 5,380 eligible

Healthcare services – 3,562 eligible

All data provided by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

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About the Author

Erin Rosa

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature.

Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state.

Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters.

She can be reached at erosa@coloradoindependent.com.

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