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The battle for improvements for CDOC staff has been long, but in recent years, we’ve gained a lot of momentum.
In the Fall of 2021, Colorado state employees ratified their first ever collective bargaining union contract with the state. That came after years of fighting to get the legal right to even bargain a contract.
It took nine months of negotiating with the state to build the master contract, called the “Partnership Agreement,” which established 50 pages of reforms and set forth paths for further reforms.
The Partnership Agreement allowed Step Raises and other compensation increases to be bargained for in an Agreement that was ratified in October of 2022. It also gave individual departments the right to have union members negotiate “Side Agreements,” or addendums to the Partnership Agreement that are specific to the needs of workers within those departments. CDOC members were the first department to begin work on that process.
The CDOC Union Bargaining Team members began discussions with CDOC administrators in January last year. After a month, it became clear that the process was less productive than desired. So members of the Bargaining Team, Stewards, and the Contract Action Team got together to make a plan that would elevate the negotiations.
They began with a petition on March 3rd, which quickly drew the support of about 1,400 CDOC staff. The petition was sent to top executives in the department in hopes of motivating them to address the health, safety, scheduling, and compensation concerns of the workers; as well as a culture of nepotism and general disrespect in its many forms. While those talks began showing modest progress, the team felt it wasn’t enough to tackle the big issues.
In the weeks to come, leaders in the Union began working with media outlets around the state to tell the story of challenges facing CDOC workers. These hard hitting news pieces came to a peak with a rally outside of CDOC Headquarters in Colorado Springs, covered by three network affiliate television news teams.
As more and more workers were telling their story, more and more workers in CDOC were joining their union, making CDOC the fastest growing and strongest department in Colorado. The Bargaining Team began gaining ground, but not at the desired pace.
By the Fall of 2022, there had been an alarming number of tragic stories about people falling asleep behind the wheel after ongoing long shifts. There were deaths and injuries outside of facilities, and terrible assaults and trauma within the facilities. The news stories continued. Soon, it was announced the now-former Executive Director of CDOC would be stepping aside.
Finally, some big agreements at the negotiating table began to be settled. However, as staffing remained an unwieldy problem, the department was considering forcing staff to be called in on scheduled days off. The team said that would only make the staffing problem worse. Fortunately, the current interim Executive Director, Andre Stancil, weighed in, providing some of the strongest safeguards against mandates on days off that has been seen in any Corrections union contract across the country.
With Stancil at the helm, and the dedicated team of CDOC union members continuing to push for rules and policies that can help right the ship, contentious issues began to fall in place.
It is with this long journey of hard work and dedication by leaders in your union that CDOC members have a Tentative Agreement to vote on today. Some of the provisions will take effect soon after ratification, but the Agreement also lines out a process for ongoing meetings to negotiate rules, incentives, and improvements where the need arises in the future.
If you work for the Department of Corrections and would like to vote on the CDOC Agreement, activate your membership here.