Union officials request election for 9,000+ state employees

A union coalition in Colorado has submitted formal requests calling for an election to decide whether to unionize more than 9,000 state workers into employee partnerships that have collective-bargaining powers.

The labor group Colorado WINS has submitted election requests to the state Division of Labor for employee groups dealing with professional and financial services.

In June, Colorado WINS succeeded in adding 22,500 state workers to its ranks, after five other employee groups participated in a mail-in election and voted for union representation.

Labor division records show that the new effort seeks to organize more than 9,000 eligible state employees including state auditors, investment officers, accountants and administrative law judges, which means that an almost complete majority of Colorado’s 32,000 state employees could be unionized after the upcoming worker mail-in election.

A date for the election has not yet been set, but should occur in the next two months.

In November, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter issued an executive order recognizing state workers’ efforts to form employee organizations that negotiate workplace issues and collectively bargain, although partnerships don’t have the right to strike or participate in binding arbitration.

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. 

It is unclear whether any anti-union forces will be working to oppose the campaign.

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@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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