The organizing of more than 22,000 state government workers into employee partnership unions in June has provided labor with a major membership boost in Colorado; another 10,000 remaining state workers may also soon vote on whether to unionize.
Colorado WINS, a labor alliance that represents 22,500 newly unionized state employees, has indicated an interest in organizing the remaining workers, whose occupations include state judges, auditors and teachers. The push to organize Colorado’s 32,000 state employees is the largest union campaign in the country, according to union organizers involved in the effort.
Union organizers who want to organize state employees are required to submit a petition to the state division of labor requesting an election for classified worker groups that are categorized by occupation.
So far, five such groups have voted to join Colorado WINS; there are four remaining groups who have yet to vote, including state workers specializing in financial services, professional services, teaching and temporary work.
Each group consists of the following occupations, according to the state department of personnel and administration:
Financial services – includes accountants, auditors, investment officers and budget analysts
Professional services – includes pilots, administrative law judges, chaplains and park managers
Teachers – includes teachers and teacher aides
Temporary aides – includes temporary workers for the state
In November, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter issued an executive order allowing state workers to form employee partnership unions that negotiate workplace issues. The employee partnerships are not legally allowed to strike or to enter into binding arbitration, according to the order, and employees are not required to join a union or pay dues. Still, the order outraged the Republican Party and many GOP officeholders, who accused Ritter of, among other things, going through the back door with his executive order rather than working through the Legislature.
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.