Hot Sheet

Organized labor lays out its agenda at Colorado’s Capitol

Author: Dan Njegomir - January 9, 2018 - Updated: January 9, 2018

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(coaflcio.org)

One of organized labor’s power hitters — the state’s teacher unions — had a banner year in 2017 given the outcome of the November election. They rolled their opponents in key school board races — and rolled back reforms shortly thereafter in at least one of those schools districts.

But how will big labor do overall in the legislative session that begins Wednesday? Labor leaders with the Colorado AFL-CIO gave the press and public a glimpse at their legislative agenda at a Capitol rally on Monday. From a press announcement following the event:

The priorities (of the legislative agenda) reflect the needs of a diverse set of workers, including public and private sector union members, and range from expanding collective bargaining, to protecting retirement security, to ensuring workers displaced by technological advances have the resources and retraining needed to continue to be productive members of the workforce.

In attendance were representatives of state-government employee union Colorado WINS as well as of the Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation union, Service Employees International Union, Laborers’ International Union of North America and the American Federation of Teachers. Also on hand were members of the historic alphabet soup of the union movement, according to the AFL-CIO press statement: AFSCME, AFGE, UNITE HERE, IBEW, NALC, APUW, CWA, UA, IAFF, UFCW, OPEIU and IUPAT.

Colorado’s labor movement not only is flush with last November’s election victories but also has been buoyed of late by rising membership. While still a small slice of Colorado’s total labor force, union ranks have been staging a comeback, as the Denver Business Journal reported last year:

There were more labor-union members in Colorado in 2016 than the year before, with the state’s union membership rate now within a percentage point of its highest level since record keeping began 28 years ago.

Union members accounted for 9.8 percent of wage-and-salary workers in Colorado last year, compared with 8.4 percent in 2015, according to data released today from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.