Opinion

Labor leaders: Colorado Working families deserve better

Authors: Jason Wardrip, Josh Downey, Mike Ham, Ron Taylor, Hillary Chigro, Kevin Caffrey, Geof Cahoon - September 5, 2016 - Updated: September 5, 2016

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By Jason Wardrip, Josh Downey, Mike Ham, Ron Taylor, Hillary Chigro, Kevin Caffrey and Geof Cahoon

Colorado AFL-CIO President Jason Wardrip
Colorado AFL-CIO President Jason Wardrip

This Labor Day, as Coloradans, as labor leaders and as part of our state’s middle class, we recognize the millions of people across the country who go to work every day to take care of our families. We work to put food on the table, to put ourselves through school, to pay for the ballet lessons and the baseball leagues. Our hard work allows Colorado’s economy to thrive and our work is what makes America great.

Working people aren’t waiting for an invitation to the table — we are driving the debate about the issues that matter to us. We are making sure our voices are heard from coast to coast as we push back against attacks from the corporate right wing. So, in November, we have to come together to elect leaders who share our values and vision and who put working families first. Together, we’ll rewrite the rules and create an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.

Working people across the nation know that the first step to a prosperous economy is raising wages. Employers have held wages down for too long and we work too hard to be falling behind. The candidates who will earn our votes agree that working people should share in the wealth we create. Any candidate who wants our vote needs to put forth an economic agenda that includes raising wages, and family-friendly policies like paid leave and equal pay for women.

The fall elections also are about electing candidates who believe the country needs a new direction on trade. Working people are changing the debate and saying no to trade deals that kill jobs and lower wages. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is more of the same — an unfair agreement written by corporations, for corporations, at the expense of working families. Trade deals should move the economy forward and create good jobs right here at home.

Unions built the middle class in our country, and we are working to strengthen the right to organize and have a voice on the job. In Colorado, we want a leader who believes all workers should be able to join together and negotiate for better wages and benefits and a safe workplace. In Colorado, legislators that are in the pocket of corporations have backed policies that would pull the rug from under hard working Americans like ‘right to work’ legislation — which limits our right to speak up together for better wages and working conditions.

On Labor Day, let’s commit to making our voices heard at the polls. This fall we are voting to raise the Colorado minimum wage to $12 by 2020, and elect candidates who believe working families deserve higher wages, better benefits, a reasonable work schedule and paid time off when we get sick. We are voting because trade deals should create good-paying jobs here in the United States. We are voting to ensure working people have the protections they need on the job; so that we can create safer and better workplaces.

If we elect our candidates the same way we have driven the debate, we can make progress for all families and communities. This November, we are voting for a better life.

Jason Wardrip

Jason Wardrip is president of the Colorado AFL-CIO.


Josh Downey

Josh Downey is president of the Denver Area Labor Federation.


Mike Ham

Mike Ham is president of the Colorado Springs Area Labor Council.


Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor is president of the Western Colorado Trades and Labor Assembly.


Hillary Chigro

Hillary Chigro is president of the Southern Colorado Labor Council.


Kevin Caffrey

Kevin Caffrey is president of the Northern Colorado Labor Council.


Geof Cahoon

Geof Cahoon is president, of the Boulder Area Labor Council.