Human services workers in Adams County, Colorado, voted overwhelmingly on Sept. 25 to join AFSCME, gaining a stronger voice to improve the services they provide to their clients.
The 600 workers – social caseworkers, Head Start teachers, community support specialists, and more – will join more than 12,000 public service workers in New Mexico and Colorado who are members of AFSCME Council 18, marking important AFSCME growth in Colorado. The workers can now bargain with the county to improve employee retention, caseload amounts, a bilingual pay policy and foster a diverse workplace that supports a better work-life balance.
Heather Burke, a social caseworker, has worked hard over the past months to mobilize her co-workers to build a stronger voice.
“My goal was to give my co-workers a voice because we’re the ones out in the field doing the work and we are not being heard,” said Burke. “We have a lot of safety issues that we need to address, as well as improve our hiring process, mileage reimbursement and bilingual pay.”
After the long battle to form a union, Burke said, “Now, we finally have seat at the table. This is a historic win for us in Adams County. Now, we can make those changes to improve the services that we provide to our clients and make Adams County an even better place to work.”
Volunteer Member Organizers from AFSCME councils across the country, including from within Colorado and New Mexico AFSCME Council 18, joined in the campaign to ensure Adams County employees won a voice in the workplace.
Jessie Hernandez, a member of Local 1211 and an income support employee with the New Mexico Human Services Department, said, “It was so exciting to share with Adams County workers the gains that we won through collective bargaining. Having a real voice on the issues that matter to us is just an incredible feeling. We are able to make the changes we need and that’s powerful!”
Connie Derr, executive director of AFSCME Council 18, said, “We are excited to welcome the Adams County Human Services workers to the AFSCME family. Because of their decision to build a voice on the job, these new AFSCME members have the opportunity to bargain over their wages and working conditions so they can ultimately make Adams County a better place to work and live.”