Hickenlooper signs bill that could lead to pay raises for state workers

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper Wednesday signed into law a new bill that will move state employees closer to getting the pay raises they’ve missed out on for the last four years.

House Bill 1321, signed during a ceremony at the State Capitol, will begin the process of enabling state workers to get to the midpoint of their pay range.

“What we’ve been asking state workers to do is to do more with less,” Hickenlooper said. “We want to make sure our workforce can keep pace with the 21st century. If you can’t reward people for what they’re doing when they’re going above and beyond, it’s very hard to maintain morale.”

The statutory changes to the personnel system that will take effect Sept. 1, 2012 will make changes to retention rights, protecting high performance and seniority for employees and adding new options for state workers who face a layoff due to reorganization or reduction in force.

“To continue to attract top talent to the State workforce, we must modernize a personnel system that has not seen significant change in nine decades,” Hickenlooper said in a press release sent Tuesday.

“The Talent Agenda focuses on increasing flexibility in hiring, improving the employee compensation structure and moving the workforce environment into the 21st century.”

The law will also create a new merit pay system and the eliminate a practice known as “bumping”, which refers to when state employee’s “bump” another state employee out of their position when a layoff plan is implemented, which can eventually force layoffs further down the  chain after state departments create a matrix — rankings, basically — to determine who can bump whom.

“This legislation will update our personnel system in a way that rewards our hard-working public servants and ensures we have a modern system that keeps up with changes in the workforce,” said Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, the bill’s sponsor.

Under the new law, any layoff procedure must consider performance and seniority in determining who is ultimately laid off. It does however eliminate the statutory requirement for applying a retention matrix throughout the department.

Colorado WINS, the labor unions representing state employees, applauds the changes and expects that the new law will create more certainty when there are shifts or reductions in the state workforce.

“We think there are very important changes in this bill that get us on the road to fixing longstanding problems,” said Scott Wasserman, the Executive Director of Colorado WINS.