The head of the state employees’ union is not pleased, according to voicemails left on the phones of several Democratic state legislators who sit on the state’s Joint Budget Committee.
It all started when liberal Governor John Hickenlooper recommended that state employees receive a 1.5% base raise with a possible 1.5% merit pay raise in December 2013. A three percent raise isn’t bad. But, the JBC upped the amount to a 3% base raise, plus a 1.5% merit pay increase (for a total of a 4.5% increase), which went above and beyond the recommendations from the Governor as well as JBC staff, according to a Denver Post article. Then, the revenue forecasts came out. The 3% raise (not the 1.5% merit increase) was in jeopardy, according to the Colorado WINS tumblr, leaving a total of a 3% raise on the table.
Colorado WINS is the state employee union. Meaning that the $8 million in salary increases that were slipping away from the union compromised the union’s ability to demonstrate relevance to their members. And, they desperately needed to show relevance.
Conversations around the Capitol have been about how angry the unions are at the Dems. When news of the possible decreased salary hit, Markham called several of the Democratic legislators while he was out of the country and let them have it, according to our sources.
A voicemail left by Markham explained his anger at the JBC. He asked “what in the hell were you [the JBC] thinking” cutting state employees’ proposed salary bump. He went on to say “you have 24 hours to find that [expletive beginning with an “f”] $8 million dollars” and that “[he] helped put [the legislators] there and this is how they repay the union.”
It looks like the union has been taking intimidation lessons from liberal U.S. Sen. Mark Udall. Or, is it the other way around? The fact of the matter is that if the state can’t afford to pay more than a 3% raise, why should the state jeopardize its financial health? Because unions? Unlikely.