DENVER (KDVR) — A collective bargaining measure is starting to make its way around the state Capitol.
While groups have been calling for the state to make moves to become more unionized, the compromise lawmakers came up with this session looks to benefit a select group of workers.
At the beginning of the session, lawmakers were calling for all public service workers to have the right to unionize. As the session nears a close, they are left with a bill that gives only county workers a choice to join a union.
How collective bargaining has affected Adams County
Melissa Clair and Melissa Lara work in the Human Services Division for Adams County. Adams is one of a few counties that recognize public unions. They say they have seen a major impact since their county authorized collective bargaining.
“A big thing the union did when they first came in was help us with our mileage for us to get paid to do the transports and stuff that is needed. They helped us with cell phones. They got us cell phones when before we had to use stipends. They weren’t really covering them,” Clair said.
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“There were some great changes,” Lara said. “We now have some armed security guards, which makes us feel a lot safer. They also implemented better technology in our backrooms, like safety buttons, and telephones within our back offices in case we need to call for help.”
The workers said those were basic needs the union helped them secure with their employer. Some lawmakers at the Capitol want workers in other counties to be able to have that same success, but it won’t come without a lot of negotiating.
What county officials think about collective bargaining
Some commissioners from counties like Weld said the bill would create an unfunded mandate and cost the county millions to implement. Other commissioners from counties like Adams are asking lawmakers to amend the bill to allow county workers to hold a secret vote when they decide whether or not they want a union.
County sheriffs in Colorado are asking lawmakers to amend the bill to exclude their departments from the bargaining rights.
The bill passed the Senate Labor, Business and Technology committee unamended by a vote of 3-2. It is set to head to the Senate floor soon, where more amendments will likely be proposed.