House Democrats stand up for workers
(May 28) – Gov. Polis signed a number of bills sponsored by House Democrats to help Colorado workers get ahead and into good paying jobs.
First up was a bill sponsored by Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, that will establish a directory with apprenticeship programs within the Department of Labor with include salary ranges, critical labor force data, licensure requirements, and other information potential enrollees should know before embarking onto a career pathway.
Recent reports show that that majority of Coloradans support vocational education.
“Every hardworking individual should get a good-paying job no matter their education. There are currently nearly 200 sponsored apprenticeship programs, and that number is constantly evolving and growing,” said Rep. Sullivan. “This directory will serve as a tool to help students and young adults grow in their technical training and enter into career fields that offer salaries without the debt of traditional college.”
The Gov. then signed an important new law to create the Just Transition Office within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to support the livelihood of coal transition workers, their families and their communities, and to help provide these workers access to training and job opportunities.
“We must address climate change, but we cannot work towards a clean energy economy without also working on solutions to support workers who are affected by this transition,” said House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “Workers and communities whose livelihoods are threatened by shifting economic tides and advancements in technology need support. We can support these communities in this transition and that’s the intention of this new law.”
Due to market forces, Colorado’s power sector is transitioning toward renewable energy resources and natural gas. This bill would help ensure communities and workers who are going to be impacted by this market driven transition away from coal won’t be left behind. The bill creates the Just Transition Office which is tasked with drafting and submitting a plan by December 31, 2020 to the Governor on how best to support coal-transition workers and communities based on input from impacted workers and communities.
Gov Polis then signed SB19-196, the Colorado Quality Apprenticeship Training Act sponsored by Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver and Rep. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge. This new law will help promote the use of high-quality apprenticeship programs on state public works projects.
In 2018, it was estimated that building trades had a shortage of 60,000 workers in Colorado. The state’s construction industry alone will need at least 30,000 new workers to meet demand in the years ahead.
The Gov. also signed HB19-1210, to allow local governments to adjust their minimum wage up to more effectively address the local cost of living, rather than have to adhere to a statewide standard in a state where local real estate markets and health care costs vary dramatically. The law would allow counties and cities to increase the minimum wage in their localities beyond the state minimum wage, currently set at $11.10 an hour.
The new law sponsored by Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, and former Rep. Rochelle Galindo, D-Greeley. Research shows that wage growth spurs consumer spending and a healthier economy.