Colorado celebrates plan to raise minimum wage for Colorado’s direct care workers to $15/hour & Governor, COWINS sign first partnership agreement


Patrick Jones


Governor Jared Polis, Colorado WINS, members of the legislature and members of SEIU celebrated the signing of the first-ever partnership agreement between Colorado WINS and the state, as well as a recently-approved plan to raise the minimum wage for Colorado’s direct care workers to $15 an hour.

“This agreement to raise the state minimum wage to $15/hour will help Colorado attract talented individuals to get the work done. I’m thrilled about this historic agreement which will ensure that Colorado continues to be a workplace where employees can help serve our state and thrive,” said Governor Polis. “I want to thank everyone who participated in this process. Colorado is proud of our efforts to ensure that workers are treated equitably and paid a fair wage.”

Gov. Polis thanked President Leroy Garcia, Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, Senator Brittany Pettersen, and other legislators for championing this process and spearheading the legislation that made it possible.

“State employees are public servants who provide critical services to Coloradans every day,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo). “With the Governor’s signature, the historic agreement between the State of Colorado and Colorado WINS is a huge victory that ensures that tens of thousands of state employees can continue their work and thrive in the communities they serve. This victory is the product of many years of hard work and collaboration performed by countless people across the state. I am grateful to all state employees for everything they do for our communities, and I am proud to celebrate this groundbreaking achievement with all our partners who made this day possible.”

“The agreement signed today marks the culmination of many years of hard work by so many people to get to this point,’ said State Rep. Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo), the House sponsor of the legislation that kicked off negotiations between WINS and the State. “This agreement honors the work of the tens of thousands of hardworking women and men who make Colorado the great place that it is, and will help ensure the people who work for Colorado can thrive. I thank Colorado WINS, Governor Polis, and the State for reaching this unprecedented agreement.”

“All workers deserve to earn a living wage – to care for themselves and their families – and to plan for their futures,” said Senator Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), the co-prime sponsor of the legislation. “Today, we celebrate a historic agreement that will not only ensure that our direct care workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, but attract and retain the most talented folks to provide critical services for fellow Coloradans. I am grateful to all of our partners who made this possible, and know that it will make a huge impact on all of our communities.”

Gov. Polis also thanked Colorado state employees who have worked day in and day out during the pandemic. Members of SEIU and COWINS spoke at today’s event including Colorado WINS President Skip Miller, COWINS member and CDLE employee Jessica Mathis, and Colorado home care providers Charmayne Phillips and Michael Bardo.

“Members of Colorado state employees’ bargaining team are here to celebrate having a voice through our first-ever contract negotiation. This partnership shows respect for the talent and expertise we have in-state jobs that are so essential to our communities,” said Skip Miller, a state employee at the Colorado School of Mines and President of Colorado WINS.

“We have long been underpaid, undervalued, and overlooked,” said Charmayne Phillips, a Colorado home care provider for the last 25 years. “After years of organizing and making our voices heard, in the streets and at our jobs, and in the halls of government, Colorado has taken a step forward, to start to right that wrong. $15 is a good step. It will mean a lot of underpaid workers will finally see a raise. Now, we must keep up the fight until every worker in our state has the respect, seat at the table, and fair pay we deserve.”

Gov. Polis thanked members of the Joint Budget Committee for approving this raise, and the men and women of SEIU Local 105 for championing the cause of a liveable wage for this invaluable workforce for so long.

A consensus agreement was signed today with COWINS that ensures employees receive fair compensation for the services they provide Coloradans, a quality work-life balance, and a voice in decisions that affect their workplaces and career paths.

This agreement is designed to ensure that the State and employees, through chosen representatives, jointly work to promote cooperative relationships with the shared goal of providing the best possible services to the Coloradans we serve.

Covered employees generally include those that are in the State personnel system, also known as classified employees. Exceptions include confidential employees, managerial employees, executive employees, administrative law judges, hearing officers, state troopers, employees in the legislative branch, and temporary employees.

Since January 2021, the State and Colorado WINS have been negotiating in good faith on a Partnership Agreement that outlines wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment on behalf of all covered employees.

For more information on the Colorado Partnership for Quality Jobs and Service Act, please visit the State’s FAQ site and the Colorado WINS website.

This press release was provided by the Office of Governor Jared Polis.