PUEBLO — Dozens of state workers and family members packed into the Pueblo "Colorado WINS (Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions) " office Saturday morning. Governor Jared Polis made the trip to southern Colorado to announce his support for a piece of legislation being introduced this year.
The Quality Jobs & Services Act will give state employees the right to collectively bargain with a legally binding contract. Polis says 20 percent of jobs are vacant in Colorado.
Colorado WINS began in 2007 when Gov. Bill Ritter signed an executive order.
"We have so many vacancies at the state, and we know we can partner with WINS to help fill those vacancies, recruit," said Polis.
The bill will be sponsored by two Pueblo-based legislators: Representative Daneya Esgar and Senate President Leroy Garcia. Esgar is also the chair of the Joint Budget Committee, which is tasked with coming up with budget recommendations.
"This day is so long coming," said Esgar at Saturday morning's event, "our incredible state employees do not currently have the critical rights to collectively bargain for better pay and better benefits"
With Pueblo having a strong union presence, Polis brought the message to the city Saturday. The governor says after the bill passes, he will sign it in Pueblo.
The Governor spoke out against a similar bill last year. This bill will have modifications the Governor is willing to endorse.
With a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, it is likely to pass. Republicans have expressed concern over the cost to taxpayers with state employees collectively bargaining.
"This is just starting this work, obviously people love to live in our great state of Colorado we want to make sure they derive satisfaction from working for the state just as they would for many private sector employees," said Polis.