Mesa County Commissioners ask Governor Polis to veto collective bargaining bill
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A bill that would guarantee collective bargaining rights for approximately 38,000 county employees is headed for Governor Polis’s desk, but Mesa County Commissioners worry that the bill could be harmful for the county on the whole. The bill would allow employees to band together in order to negotiate aspects of their employment, such as caseloads, safety protocols, benefits, and wages. In addition, workers would be protected from being fired for participating in collective bargaining.
However, Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis stated that the bill would be harmful for counties by forcing them to participate in collective bargaining, and that the county could be forced to return a minimum of $11 million in excess of the county’s $245.6 million budget due to TABOR restrictions this year, and worries that collective bargaining could add an additional $7 million to $10 million in expenditures later on. “We’re not a business, we can’t just raise our prices and pay for additional services or higher wages. We are bound by TABOR.” said Davis.
The bill does forbid forced bargaining, and mandates that all involved parties negotiate in good faith. Bargains reached between the individual representing employees and the county must also be approved by the board of county commissioners, meaning that county commissioners will get the last word. Under this bill, counties will not be forced to agree to terms it does not agree with, nor does it allow bargaining employees to affect budgeting decisions.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the county and bargaining employees enter a period of non-binding mediation. The bill also clarifies that nothing in a collective bargaining agreement can restrict or usurp the existing authority granted to county commissioners.
The bill is expected to be signed by Governor Polis, and would go into effect at the beginning of 2023.
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