For Immediate Release
Contact: Nick Voutsinos

Colorado governor signs major expansion of collective bargaining for 36,000 county employees

County employees across the state mobilized and organized to win one of the single largest collective bargaining expansions in recent history.

PUEBLO, Colo. – Today, flanked by working people, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed SB22-230, Concerning the Expansion of County Employees’ Rights to Collective Bargaining Act, into law. With the stroke of a pen, over 36,000 essential county workers across the state gained the right to bargain collectively over the terms and conditions of their employment. It marks one of the single, largest expansions of collective bargaining rights in recent history.

“All across the nation, workers are fighting tooth and nail to get a seat at the table – and they’re winning,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “We see it in Starbucks coffee shops. We see it in cultural institutions, and now we’re seeing it in Colorado where county workers will have the freedom to negotiate to improve their lives and strengthen the public services they provide. This momentum is undeniable. Workers everywhere know their voices have value, and we must back them up by making it easier to unionize.”

“The work county employees put into getting SB22-230 passed cannot be overstated. Even after working full time delivering essential services, they banded together, called their state representatives, testified before legislative committees, and won,” said Connie Derr, executive director of AFSCME Council 18. “Now, these everyday heroes can make an even greater difference for their families and their communities.” 

Colorado county governments are facing severe turnover issues, with many spending millions to address numerous vacancies. Studies show that, when workers have a protected voice on the job, they are more likely to stay with that employer. That’s because having a seat at the table means workers can better collaborate with their employer to address shared challenges. For Colorado county workers, it means they can finally work with county management to identify the reasons staff are leaving and collaborate on solutions.

“We work on the front lines with members of our community daily. We understand what’s needed to improve the work we do – both for workers, but also for the people who depend on us. That’s why this bill is so essential; it gives us a chance to make our voices heard,” said Josette Jaramillo, a child welfare worker for Pueblo County and president of AFSCME Local 1335 and the Colorado AFL-CIO.