Colorado AFL-CIO releases Prosperity Agenda



Agenda focuses on working families and keeping jobs in Colorado


Denver- Colorado possesses many great assets as a state: natural beauty, abundant resources, and many great institutions. But no asset is as great as it's people- the people who teach our children, care for the elderly, build and maintain our infrastructure. The Colorado workforce is filled with ingenuity and pride. 


However, while we have made positive strides to keep our economy strong and keep jobs in Colorado, many Colorado families are struggling. Today the Colorado AFL-CIO released their Prosperity Agenda ( for the 2015 legislative session.  The agenda outlines the core principles of the Colorado AFL-CIO:


  • Building a strong middle class and protecting good paying jobs. 
  • Investing in Colorado's workforce and infrastructure. 
  • Protecting Colorado families.
  • Building community partnerships. 


"Colorado has always had a tradition of supporting strong families that strive for generations", said Mike Cerbo, Executive Director of the Colorado AFL-CIO. "It is now more important than ever that we enact policies that lift up workers into the middle class and provide livable wages and sustainable benefits."


One glaring example where the economic system is not working for everyone is pay equity. Recently the Pay Equity Commission was dissolved by the Senate Committee on Business, Labor and Technology. The Commission regulated pay disparity in Colorado. In a state where women earn 79 cents to the dollar earned by Colorado men, the Colorado AFL-CIO will be working to enact policies that close the income gap and growing economic disparity that threatens our unique, Colorado way of life. 


This morning the AFL-CIO launched a campaign to target the Koch brothers called the Koch Sisters. The campaign features the Koch sisters, two middle class women from union families who are a stark contrast to the right wing Koch brothers. The ads highlight the conversation around how these billionaires are influencing our politics for the worse.

The AFL-CIO would like to encourage you to check out the website and ads as well as to share news stories via social media.  


30-second ad, which will begin airing today:

Link to the 60-second spot featured on the website:

Taking Back Labor Day

Taking Back Labor Day

In 1776 the economist Adam Smith said, “Labour was the first price, the original purchase – money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.”

Since its founding, the framing principles of the American economic system have been based on the notion that with hard work and determination,anyone can achieve a life of prosperity. As one of the world’s wealthiest countries, and our citizens should be able tap into the resources and opportunities to make the best life for themselves and their families. 

Unfortunately, many Americans work long hours, but make barely enough to pay rent. Somebody working for minimum wage at 40 hours a week should not need to be on public assistance. In our own state the Douglas County school board has put teachers on a pay schedule that’s subject to completely arbitrary change and whims of administrators. 

How is it that those who do some of the most demanding work are getting the least back for their efforts? The income disparity is worsening, and it’s gotten to the point that the trickle-down effect from tax cuts to corporations is not going to repair the economy. If we want a truly wealthy nation, we need an economy that works for everyone and not just those at the very top.

What we need is a return to the very values that inspired the creation of Labor Day back in 1887. It’s time to celebrate the hardworking Americans who allow this country to run by doing the jobs that we need to function as a society: teaching, social work, infrastructure, construction, customer service, the list goes on and on. 

Only by using our voices together can we make this system work for everyone, and not just the wealthy few. We need to be valuing the working class for their invaluable contribution to the nation by giving them comfortable living wages, job security, and most of all the freedom to shape a healthy life. 

This is the American Dream- that with honest and diligent work, every individual will be able to work up from the very bottom to create a better life for themselves and their family. And it is in honor of that vision that we need to take back what it means to fully value our workers, in the true spirit of Labor Day.

Labor and business collaboration gets the job done- join together to pass worker’s comp reform

By: Nick Guthrie

Who says business and labor can’t get the job done? Today HB14-1383 passed its third reading in the Colorado House of Representatives with a party line vote of 37 to 27.

This bill represents a historic collaboration between labor and business stakeholders. The result is a bill that stands for a 100% increase in the number of employer-selected doctors a worker can choose from following an on-the-job injury.

"This bill represents many months of negotiation and collaboration with our stakeholders in labor and the business community," said Mike Cerbo Executive Director of Colorado AFL-CIO.

"We are proud of the agreement reached and that we were able to work together to increase doctor choice for injured workers." 

The bill modifies current law in C.R.S. 8-43-404 to increase the available pool of doctors assigned by employers/insurers when a worker sustains a workplace injury from two to four. It does not impose any new standards on rural employers.  


CJDC release video on why don’t kids have lawyers



"Why don't kids have lawyers?" is a brief video about the lack of access to a lawyer and the right to counsel for youth in Colorado. In 1967 the Supreme Court ruled that the right to counsel extends to youth just as much as adults.


However, nearly half of all juveniles never talk to an attorney in Colorado. Without an attorney present, kids and their parents may agree to a plea deal they don't understand and suffer long-term collateral consequences.


The time has come to provide full due process to youth in Colorado and around the United States. "Why don't kids have lawyers?" shows there is a solution. View the video a and find out how you can get involved.​

Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Director Mike Cerbo: Stopping unemployment benefits hurts Colorado’s economy

The Denver Post-

Mike Cerbo
Guest Commentary

Mike Cerbo is the executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO and a former state legislator.Unemployment benefits have historically been our nation’s most important safety net and lifeline for those who are out of work. Now they have expired for 20,000 Coloradans and the economic impact is already being felt.

The Great Recession hit close to home for many Colorado families. Since 2008, more than 24 million Americans have been able to rely on long-term unemployment insurance to stay on their feet until they found their next job and received their next paycheck.

Unfortunately, funding for this vital lifeline for jobless workers expired on Dec. 28 and benefits that kept millions out of poverty vanished. The failure to renew this benefit cost 20,000 Coloradans over $7 million during the first week that benefits lapsed, robbing families of a support system that remains essential to economic survival.

For the families of those who are out of work, modest unemployment benefits, averaging just $300 a week, represent the difference between a place to live and food on the table — or not.

When families can make ends meet using the bridge of unemployment benefits, studies show it creates jobs and can boost the economy. The Congressional Budget Office considers unemployment benefits to be one of the most important and effective economic stimulus programs. A decline in buying power can have significant impact on a weak economy.

By not extending unemployment benefits we are robbing businesses of customers and costing the country more than 240,000 jobs that would be saved by an extension, including over 3,500 jobs in Colorado. As the year goes on, the consequences will be even worse when benefits for 3.6 million Americans are scheduled to expire.

Recent congressional budget negotiations failed to help the millions of people who want to work but cannot find employment. Especially in times of need, Colorado working families must demand that Congress creates good jobs and restore the historic safety net of unemployment benefits. Members of Congress have a chance to redeem themselves by voting to restore unemployment benefits as they return to work this month.

Colorado families urge Congressman Mike Coffman to show leadership and vote to extend unemployment benefits for the hardest hit. We cannot afford for him not to.

Mike Cerbo is the executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO and a former state legislator.


House Joint Resolution looks to investigate due process improvement in state juvenile courts

Today, House Joint Resolution 13-1019, “Juvenile Defense Attorney Interim Committee,” is being heard in the House Judiciary Committee.  The resolution would establish an interim legislative committee to study access to juvenile defense counsel and state juvenile defense delivery systems to remedy deprivations of the 6th Amendment right to counsel for Colorado juveniles.

In 2012, 45% of all juvenile delinquency cases (9600) had no defense lawyer during any point of the legal process, leaving children and families to represent themselves in proceedings that can lead to lifelong consequences.  Even when counsel is appointed, it can be late in the process, when juvenile cases need early attention and intervention. The resolution follows the release of Colorado: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings by the National Juvenile Defender Center.

“Colorado youth need a well-trained voice throughout the legal process,” said Kim Dvorchak, executive director of the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition. “With nearly half of juvenile cases having no defense attorney, Colorado needs to take a serious look at providing due process for juveniles from the moment they face legal proceedings.”
The bi-partisan resolution is sponsored by Representatives Claire Levy (D), and Clarice Navarro (R), and Senators Angela Giron (D), and Ted Harvey (R).  The committee will investigate a portion of the justice system that often goes unnoticed and consider solutions for comprehensive reform.


At 1:30 Today, the House Judiciary Committee will hear House Bill 13-1230.  The bill would allow for state compensation for persons or immediate family members of those wrongly convicted of a felony or wrongly adjudicated or wrongly incarcerated.


The bill is sponsored by Representatives Angela Williams (D) and Dan Pabon (D) in the House and Lucia Guzman (D) in the Senate.  Compensation for an exonerated person would equal $70,000 for every year of incarceration.  An additional $50,000 would be provided each year for those that wrongfully spent time on death row.  Exonerated individuals who spent time on parole or  had to register as sex offenders would receive an addition $25,000.  The bill looks to balance the fallibility of the justice system.


“The court and lawyers sometimes make mistakes, it can lead to the wrongful loss of liberty or even life.  No human being is infallible yet we rely on it every day to make life or death decisions,” said Dan Schoen, Executive Director of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. “We can never make up for what was done to people like Rob Dewey and Tim Masters, but HB1230 will help people that were wrongfully incarcerated by the government  pick up the broken pieces of their lives”


Along with monetary compensation, the exonerated would be required to take financial management courses to receive compensation after the first year.  HB 13-1230 will also cover tuition at in-state colleges for the exonerated and their children who served incarceration sentences of 3 or more years.  


Compensation laws exist in other states, yet these systems alone do no solve the fallibility problem. As Dan Schoen points out, “Texas has the most generous exoneree compensation system, unfortunately there have been innocent people like Cameron Todd Willingham who were executed in Texas and never got the compensation.”


The compensation procedure would provide a 60 day period for the attorney general and the district attorney to support eligibility for compensation or to contest eligibility and innocence.  If innocence is contested, the district court will conduct a trial with the burden of proof on the petitioner or wrongly convicted to prove their innocence.


Constituents to Converged on Sen. Bennet and Sen. Udall’s Denver offices on Monday

Over 150 constituents descended on Sen. Michael Bennet and Sen. Mark Udall’s offices on Monday, December 10, 2012 to deliver a clear message that “No deal is a bad deal” on “fiscal cliff” negotiations.  From 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. arriving in 20 minute cycles, 24 delegation groups urged the Senators to put the middle class over millionaires.

The press availability event took place at noon to talk to constituents who pressed the Senators to heed the will of Colorado voters and extend tax cuts for middle class families, end tax breaks for the richest two percent and protect vital services Coloradans depend on like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and education.

From 12:00-12:30 several constituents spoke on the importance of the current negotiations in Washington D.C. The speakers included Katie Facchinello from Tynnyson Center for Children, David Bouchey, a former biotech executive working two part-time jobs, and Lori Goldstein, a teacher from Adams 12 Schools.  


In preparation for the Lame-Duck Congress, working families urged Senators Bennet and Udall

and Congressmen Coffman, Perlmutter and Polis to fight for working families

Denver– On Thursday, November 8, over 100 members  of the Colorado AFL-CIO, SEIU and a coalition of 17 groups visited Senator Michael Bennet’s office to act on voters’ priorities in the coming congressional session. The United States Congress is heading back into session on November 13, 2012 for what they are calling the “Lame Duck Session” of Congress.

The groups urged Colorado Members of Congress to let the Bush-era tax cuts for those making $250,000 per year expire, and not to make cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other vital programs that will impact working and middle class Coloradans.

SEIU member Gina Jones shared her personal story with the impassioned crowd. “I have a ten year old disabled daughter with the mental capacities of a 3 1/2 year old,” said Jones. If I didn’t

have Medicaid, I wouldn’t be able to afford the frequent appointments, the trips to Children’s Hospital, and various medications she needs. Colorado rejected the Romney/Ryan plan to cut Medicare, Medicaid and other programs, and voted instead for jobs. We urge Senator Bennet and all our Members of Congress to heed the will of the voters when they go back to Washington, D.C.”

Cindy Kirby, Secretary Treasurer of the Colorado AFL-CIO made the following remarks concerning federally funded programs: “We are proud of what was accomplished on Tuesday. We sent a loud message to protect working families and help those that need it most. Programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are vital. Now that the election is over it is time to make sure our voices are even louder.”

A short speaking program outside of Senator Bennet’s Denver office was followed by representatives delivering a letter signed by labor and progressive allies to his district staff.  The representatives engaged in a brief discussion with a receptive Senator Bennet’s staff regarding working family concerns.  A small delegation delivered a similar letter to Senator Mark Udall’s Denver office after the rally.

This event was part of a national effort with similar rallies across the country highlighting the need for congress to focus on jobs before cuts in the “lame duck” session

The Colorado AFL-CIO is comprised of 310,000 Colorado voters striving to keep Colorado working and the middle class strong.


Colorado labor organizations work for dramatic increase in voter registrations:

Denver-Working with statewide affiliates, the Colorado AFL-CIO has registered more that 13,500 new voters from union homes across Colorado since March of 2011.  This marks a 15% increase in union household voter registrations over that time period and is the second highest percentage increase in the Country.

“We are proud of the hard work that has allowed us to increase voter registration among union households by 15%,” said Mike Cerbo, Executive Director of the Colorado AFL-CIO. “The last 18 months have paid off to ensure that working family values are heard in the ballot box and that these values resonate with our elected officials.”

The national AFL-CIO has registered 450,000 voters from union households across the country including over 68,000 voters in Ohio.