The 2020 Colorado Legislative session ended just over a week ago with a handful of big legislative wins for working people. Even during an unprecedented global pandemic, record-high unemployment and the temporary shutdown of the Capitol, the activism of our janitors, airport, healthcare, and security workers across our union was in full force, and our commitment pushed historic victories across the finish line.
✅ A quick recap of the legislative action generated by SEIU:
- 3000 Paid Sick Leave Support Letters Sent to Legislators
- 2000 Colorado Care Workers Unite Letters Sent to Legislators
- 30 Official Written Testimonies from members Submitted to the Legislature
- 2 Critical Press Conferences Where Member Leaders Spoke
- 1 Pivotal Live Testimony by homecare worker Sandra Sherwood, who drove three hours in short notice to speak in support of whistleblower protection legislation for Colorado Workers, and whose testimony helped draw the votes needed for the bill to pass committee.
Below you’ll find summaries of the significant legislative victories we accomplished this year, working together with our union and community allies. It’s important to note that none of these historic wins would have been possible without ensuring that we work hard to elect Unions for All champions at all levels of government. Now is the time to commit ourselves to do so again in 2020!
✅ Paid Sick Leave for ALL Colorado Workers
SB20-205 On the Governor’s desk – After years of hard work, Colorado will now have an earned paid sick days program that will cover ALL workers in Colorado! Workers will be able to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. This earned program will cap out at 6 days a year for all workers. With the passage of this bill, Colorado joins 12 other states, Washington DC and dozens of local municipalities in establishing critical protections for workers. SB 205 also requires employers to provide COVID-related emergency paid sick leave for employees. This includes large companies with more than 500 employees who weren’t required to provide this leave by Congress.
✅ State Employee Collective Bargaining
HB20-1153 Signed by the Governor! – Working together, over 28,000 state employees, legislators, and community allies, are proving that the ability to join a union, no matter where you work, is the best way to create family-sustaining jobs and begin fixing a rigged economy that has been exploiting workers, especially black and brown workers, across the nation.
We know state employees provide critical services to communities across the state. From the workers processing thousands of unemployment claims to the nurses and healthcare workers keeping our veterans’ homes and 24-hour medical facilities open for their residents, Colorado state employees have been keeping our state running before, during, and after the pandemic.
Through our hard work, the dedication of state employees is finally being recognized. Now they will have a seat at the table to address a number of issues they’ve been highlighting for years: high turnover rates, inadequate staffing, forced overtime, and low morale.
✅ Eliminating Corporate Tax Giveaways and Tax Credits for Working People
HB20-1420. On the Governor’s desk – A number of our allies worked hard to pass this bill that reduces and eliminates tax giveaways that benefit the wealthy to make the tax code more fair, and uses the resulting dollars to fill some of the most devastating budget cuts. The bill will transfer $113 million to the State Education Fund (SEF) in 2021 and $23 million in 2022. Additionally, Colorado’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will be extended to families with ITIN numbers and will permanently increase from 10% to 15%. This will provide desperately needed economic relief to working families and reduce structural racism and inequity in the tax code.
✅ Whistleblower Protections for ALL Colorado Workers
HB20-1415. On the Governor’s desk – Prevents an employer from discriminating, retaliating, or taking adverse action against any worker who raises a concern about workplace health and safety practices or hazards related to a public health emergency to the employer, other workers, a government agency, or the public. The policy also protects workers who voluntarily wear their personal protective equipment, such as a mask, faceguard, or gloves. An exciting win is the variety of enforcement mechanisms available for workers.
✅ Expanding Unemployment Insurance Protections
SB20-207. On the Governor’s desk – Provides a greater opportunity for workers to receive unemployment insurance while facing limited hours in returning to work and flexibility for employers to avoid layoffs. It also ensures workers do not have to return to work in unsafe environments. In addition, SB 207 includes a long-overdue change to guarantee a stronger statewide unemployment fund. See this blog from the Bell Policy Center for more on that and the bill as a whole.
✅ Police Accountability Legislation
SB20-217 Signed by the Governor! – The passage of this important piece of legislation that brings more accountability to policing in Colorado includes:
- The end of qualified immunity
- Requires officers to intervene to stop excessive force
- Outlaws chokeholds + use of deadly force on someone fleeing police who does not pose an immediate risk
- Decertifies bad officers
- Protects protesters from police tear gas and projectiles
- Mandates body cameras and makes police misconduct video publicly available
- Authorizes the AG to bring lawsuits to force bad police depts. to change
- Requires data collection and public reporting on policing
- A public database to prevent the rehiring of bad officers.