Colorado Service Workers Rally at Hickenlooper’s Office

Local janitors, healthcare, airport, and Colorado state employees will be demonstrating at Senator Hickenlooper’s office to demand he publicly support the American Recovery Act and the Raise the Wage Act for a $15/hr minimum wage, a desperately needed change that would raise wages for nearly 500,000 Colorado workers through the pandemic and beyond. 

A federal $15 minimum wage has never been closer to becoming a reality. With $15/hr, 32 million workers will earn a raise — including 19 million frontline essential workers. Service workers are expressing determination to fight and win $15/hr. 

They are calling on Sen. Hickenlooper and Congress to deliver on promises made and what working people need, with no excuses about parliamentarians or archaic process. Passing the $15 minimum wage and the COVID relief budget bill currently moving through reconciliation is the fastest way to get raises into families’ hands and move the country ahead. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is straining an already broken direct services industry. Direct care workers — mostly Black, Latina, and Asian women — are on the frontlines; underpaid and under-supported for another spike in the pandemic. Caregivers lack resources like a liveable wage, proper PPE, training and paid sick leave which are not available to them. 

“I’ve been a home care worker for the last 7 years, and I love the work that I do taking care of our most vulnerable in our community,” said Cody Jab home care worker and member of Colorado Care Workers Unite. “Despite being on the front lines of this pandemic, no matter how many shifts I put in it’s a constant struggle to make ends meet. We need Senator Hickenlooper to respect Colorado’s care workers, invest in Medicaid, and pass a $15 minimum wage now.”

Critical services have been stretched even further during the health crisis in Colorado. State and local funding means public services like good healthcare, reliable infrastructure, and transportation, clean air and water can meet the needs of Colorado families in every corner of the state. Investing in the foundations of Colorado communities—like schools, parks, and healthcare—means Colorado will be able to recover fully from the pandemic and build back better than before.

Colorado’s state employees are calling on Senator Hickenlooper to take bold action by voting in favor of President Biden’s COVID relief package, which includes needed aid to state and local governments.

“Though our work may be behind the scenes, state employees have kept our communities safe and healthy during the pandemic. But our response is complicated by years of budget cuts that thinned staff, depleted equipment, and created unsafe working conditions,” said Skip Miller, a state employee and President of Colorado WINS. “Increasing investment in essential services isn’t about protecting what we have–it’s about expanding to meet communities’ needs.” 

Denver’s janitors, a majority Latina immigrant workforce, have been on the front lines of both cleaning and sanitizing our city’s buildings during the pandemic and historic victories in raising the minimum wage for workers across Colorado. Immigrant communities have borne the brunt of the pandemic in Denver, with our Hispanic communities being disproportionately affected according to data by the Center for Disease Control. 

“We are grateful that Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet represented Coloradan working peoples’ needs by signing onto the United States Citizenship Act, which proposes bold immigration reform and a path to citizenship,” said Yuliana Guerrero, a Denver janitor for the last six years and member of SEIU Local 105. “But we can’t stop there. We need Senator Hickenlooper to commit to opposing Republican attempts to deny COVID relief to families of mixed immigration status, and joining Senator Bennet in the fight for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage.”

Senator Bennet and Representatives Crow, DeGette, Neguse and Perlmutter have all cosponsored the Raise the Wage Act, S 53 and HR 603. 

Last year, we saw Republican lawmakers pick and choose who gets to survive and thrive. This year, we have a chance to make the way for a better Colorado, but only if we go all in for all of us. Now is the time for Congress to step up and do everything necessary to contain, control, and end this pandemic by supporting President Biden’s COVID relief plan to help all people in pursuit of a healthy and thriving Colorado by passing a national $15/hr minimum wage and investing directly into state and local governments.

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