Overworked and underpaid, Colorado Care Workers ask for better conditions

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DENVER (KDVR) — Members of the Colorado Care Workers Unite labor union protested in front of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment on Thursday. Workload, pay and conditions that put lives at risk are top concerns for the protesting workers.

The sounds of protest echoed through the concrete canyons of downtown Denver. Honking cars and bull horns sound in support of the workers.

“We do companion care, like daily needs at home, cooking, cleaning, companionship, making sure somebody is supervised when they are going to the bathroom or taking a shower,” said Cody Jakubowski, Colorado Care Workers Unite leader.

“In addition to being underpaid, we are overworked, we don’t have proper safety equipment, we are sent into unsafe homes and environments,” said Jakubowski.

“What we want the state to do is to honor our petition that we turned in in January to convene a wage board,” said Jakubowski.

The group wants a forum to bring together state officials and caregivers. So far, says Jakubowski, the state has not responded.

”Nothing. They have said nothing. They said they are not doing anything, which in other words, you don’t matter and we don’t care,” said Jakubowski.

So, now what?

“We figure out who is actually going to listen to us,” said Jakubowski.

Which probably means, says Jakubowski, more protesting. 

The Colorado Department of Labor and employment sent FOX31 News the following statement:

“The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) claims that they delivered a successful petition for a state investigation and the convening of a wage board, yet no investigation has taken place.

“In actuality, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) has been holding recurring meetings with SEIU since the fall of 2020 about their request that the state of Colorado convene a wage board concerning home care workers’ wages. In those meetings, CDLE has kept the group informed about the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics’ (DLSS) ongoing investigations into wage practices in the home care industry, spanning multiple employers, and we are pleased to have had helpful cooperation from workers and labor organizers alike in that field.

“CDLE continues to keep SEIU updated on its progress, and has reiterated that DLSS is wrapping up its investigation into the merits of SEIU’s specific complaints. DLSS’s review is nearly complete, and is already set to be issued in the coming weeks.”

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