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Governor Polis Signs HB 1196 into Law to Close Pay Equity Gaps for State Employees, Workers of Color

March 2, 2022

*Bill Will Fund Research to Study Pay Inequities in State Departments*

DATE: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022

CONTACT: Madeleine Schmidt 

DENVER – Colorado WINS, the union that represents state employees, is celebrating Governor Jared Polis signing House Bill 1196 into law yesterday. The bill is sponsored by House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo), Representative Leslie Herod (D-Denver), Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, and Senator Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood).

This legislation will direct the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, created through state employees’ historic first contract with the state of Colorado, to conduct a study to assess pay inequities specific to gender, race, and other protected classes within state departments. On average, Black, Latinos, and Native Americans make 13 to 18 percent less than white employees in Colorado state jobs.

“The passage of HB 1196 is a huge win for the invaluable state workers who provide critical services to Colorado communities and keep our state running,” said Majority Leader Daneya Esgar. “This bill shows our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in state agencies and paying a living wage to state employees in every corner of Colorado.”

“Wage inequality is a racial justice issue, and it is disheartening to see the racial pay gap perpetuated in our own state government,” said Rep. Leslie Herod. “House Bill 1196 is a critical step toward addressing pay inequities and ensuring that workers of color are paid what they’re worth.”

The study will also require that recommendations be made to address pay inequities. A final report including findings and recommendations from the study will be provided to the members of the general assembly, the Governor, and to Colorado WINS.

“State employees already make 16% less than their counterparts in other sectors of the economy, and this study is a critical opportunity to begin remedying pay inequities,” said Hilary Glasgow, Executive Director of Colorado WINS. “We know our pay is well below the market rate, pushing people to leave jobs they love in order to do what’s right for their families. Our members have been urging the state to address these known pay inequities so that we can fix the system for years.”

Colorado employees recently came together to negotiate their first ever contract with the state which included a $15 minimum wage for all employees and 3% yearly cost of living increases that will ensure we can keep state agencies staffed and operating to provide critical services. But there is still work to do, and we need to ensure that raises in all state agencies are implemented fairly. For instance, there is currently a misalignment between years of service and payment across state agencies. While it’s important to secure adequate payment for state employees, it’s also critical that hard work is rewarded equally.

“State employees provide critical services and resources that Colorado families rely on,” said Majority Leader Dominick Moreno. “In addressing pay inequities for Colorado employees, we’re helping to ensure they can care for themselves and their families and keep serving their communities.”

Colorado WINS is the union representing more than 28,000 classified state employees who work to ensure our quality of life in communities across the state and provide essential services to more than 5.6 million Coloradans.