Boulder County workers file for union recognition

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Boulder and the Flatirons.

Employees working for Boulder County have filed for union recognition, taking advantage of a relatively new piece of legislation that grants county employees the right to form unions. 

Organizing members of the Boulder County Employees Union said they want to address several issues affecting employees, including high turnover and relatively low wages. 

“As Boulder County workers, we must have a say in decisions that shape our lives, as efforts to combat turnover and promote retention are crucial for stability,” Stavan Vanscoy, a member of the organizing committee, said in a press release. “Upholding racial equity principles and ensuring fair wages and benefits are essential for a thriving community in Boulder County.”

The county employs over 2,000 people, although it is unclear how many of them are eligible for union membership. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment will work with the union, which is forming under the Communications Workers of America, and Boulder County to determine the schedule and method for an election. 

Under Senate Bill 22-230, employees of counties with a population of 7,500 or more were granted the right to organize and join collective bargaining units. The bill was heavily watered down by the time it was passed, with earlier versions granting union rights to cities, schools and colleges. 

The final bill included key limitations — county governments are not required to accept results of mediation processes if contract negotiations reach an impasse and county employees that form unions are prohibited from going on strike, restricting their ability to put pressure on their employers.

Not many groups of county employees have taken advantage of their newly afforded union rights. In March, Jefferson County Public Library workers won their union election, the first in the state to organize under Senate Bill 22-230, according to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.