Higher Education Leaders React to Revised Colorado Collective Bargaining Bill
DENVER—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, American Association of University Professors President Irene Mulvey and Melinda Myrick, co-president of the AAUP chapter at Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colo., issued the following statements after higher education workers were excised from the planned Counties and Higher Education Collective Bargaining bill following a misinformation campaign waged by the bill’s opponents.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “The removal of higher education workers from this bill is a missed opportunity to help the tens of thousands of Colorado faculty and staff struggling for a living wage, respect and rights at work, after years of repression and exploitation. We are very disappointed—but at the same time glad that bargaining rights for local employees are moving forward.
“Our opponents shamefully searched for every excuse in the book to avoid giving these workers a voice. College administrators earning six figures distorted the facts about their schools’ financial standing, when the truth is they are sitting on billions in unrestricted reserves—an amount that continues to grow by the day. And, sadly, this bill was also undercut by some elements of the labor movement, who reasoned that if the bill wasn’t perfect—and it wasn’t—or they weren’t going to benefit maximally, no one else should either.
“Collective bargaining gives workers a voice and dignity at work. If more Americans had it, we would be in better shape as a nation. We will keep fighting for every worker to have that chance.”
AAUP President Irene Mulvey said: “Colorado was poised to take a giant step that would have improved public education and attracted the best and brightest faculty and graduate students to the state. Instead, by excluding higher ed from this bill, the message the state Legislature is sending is loud and clear: Faculty will be undervalued, overworked and exploited.
“We’re disappointed, we’re angry, but we’re not giving up. Public employees in Colorado are entitled to a seat at the table and a meaningful voice in setting their working conditions. The AAUP stands firm in our commitment to collective bargaining rights for all academic workers in Colorado. We will continue to work with our chapters and our partners at the AFT to build a powerful labor movement to fight for bargaining rights, because faculty unions strengthen their institutions and our democracy.”
Melinda Myrick, co-president of the AAUP chapter at Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colo., said: “Most college instructors make less than the custodians and groundskeepers on their campuses. The right to collectively bargain could have changed that by giving thousands of faculty a voice in their working conditions—rather than sacrificing them—to educate the next generation of Coloradans.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.