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Last year, when workers in Colorado’s public defender system formed their union as part of CWA Local 7799, they hoped to address concerns about insufficient pay and have a meaningful seat at the table. Now they are mobilizing to ensure that upcoming pay increases are distributed equitably.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis has authorized $16.1 million to improve salaries for workers in the Office of the State Public Defender, but workers are concerned that the salary plans submitted to the legislature by the Office of the State Public Defender leave the most underpaid workers far behind while well-paid managers and top officials receive an additional boost. More than 500 employees have signed a petition demanding that the funds be used to bring all staff up to or above market average salary.
“It’s great to say raises are on the way, but people need to know what is going to work for their budget in July, August, going forward,” Defenders Union of Colorado-CWA Local 7799 member James Hardy told the Denver Post. “And we don’t know. The response to all this has been, 'You’ll find out when you find out.'”