County officials to ask Gov. Polis to veto collective bargaining bill

(The Center Square) – County officials from across Colorado are gearing up to ask Gov. Jared Polis to veto legislation that would give collective bargaining rights to thousands of county workers.

Senate Bill 22-230, which was introduced by Democrats in the General Assembly just over two weeks ago, would allow county workers to organize unions and collectively bargain for wages and benefits.

The Senate passed the bill last week, and the House gave final passage to the bill in a 41-24 vote on Wednesday, the last day of the 2022 legislative session.

County officials are circulating a letter that will be delivered to the governor urging him to veto the bill once it lands on his desk, citing costs to counties.

“This particular piece of legislation represents the largest unfunded mandate upon counties in the history of the state of Colorado,” a draft of the letter reviewed by The Center Square reads.

The letter is currently signed by dozens of county officials from 37 counties across the state.

Teller County Commissioner Erik Stone called the legislation a “one-size fits all nightmare” for counties.

“Local officials and county voters won’t have a say in this issue” if the bill becomes law, he told The Center Square.

Stone estimates the legislation would cost Teller County $2 to 3 million to implement – equivalent to 8% of the county’s budget.

Larger counties like El Paso and Weld have estimated the proposal could cost the counties at least $25 million and $30 million a year, respectively.

If the bill becomes law, it would apply to an estimated 36,000 county workers.

“Our bill ensures that county workers can unionize if they so choose and have a seat at the table to discuss decisions that directly affect their livelihood,” Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a written statement on Wednesday.

Colorado Democrats passed a law in 2020 allowing state employees to collectively bargain.

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