Man holds a sign at a rally that says "respect workers' rights"Workers make our economy run, but unfortunately they are not treated that way. UNE believes that we must do better. Workers deserve a fair and equitable wage, regardless of race or immigration status. Workers and their communities deserve to benefit from economic growth as much as those at the top, with access to high quality jobs and meaningful, effective government services. And, to put it simply, workers deserve to be treated like human beings, not commodities. No one should have to choose between losing their job and caring for their newborn child or sick spouse, and UNE stands with workers as they fight for a better life for themselves and their families.

Nobody working full time should be living on poverty wages.

People shouldn’t have to choose between food on the table and healthcare. If you don’t think a livable wage is worth the fight, think about this:

  • More than half of Colorado’s minimum wage workers are women, and 1 in 2 Colorado moms are the main breadwinner for their family
  • In most parts of the state, even a single adult would fall short of meeting their basic needs while working a minimum wage job without relying on public assistance to make ends meet
  • There’s nowhere in the state where you can raise a family on $8.31 per hour.
  • On today’s minimum wage, Coloradans working full time only make $300/week. Nobody can survive on that
  • “A number of studies on the impacts of increasing the minimum wage have shown that these policies reduce the risk of early childbirth, raise birth weight, and improve infants’ future educational and financial prospects.” – Colorado Children’s Campaign
  • The number of small businesses and people working in small business increased more in states with higher minimum wages than in states with wages set at the lower federal minimum.

In 2016, UNE joined a coalition of nonprofits, labor unions, national partners and affiliates, think tanks, legislators and community members, to PASS a measure to increase the minimum wage in Colorado from $8.31 to $12 by 2020! This is the first increase to the minimum wage in 10 years! Amendment 70 is going to make a difference in the lives of 480,000 Colorado workers! The wage increase will help working people pay their bills on time, put food on their table, raise their kids, and pay for their ever increasing housing costs.

This victory proves that the majority of voters are interested in building a better economy, one that works for all Colorado residents, not just the wealthy and well connected. It is a loud statement about our values for dignity, equity, and justice.

UNE has long been a key player in combating wage theft in Colorado. Beginning in 2006, UNE partnered with El Centro Humanitario and Rights for All People to support workers in taking direct action to recover their wages, while also pushing policy change strategies at the municipal and state levels.  UNE convened the wage theft task force, made up of state officials, local advocates and wage theft victims to generate solutions.  Galvanized by supports from the task force in 2012, UNE convened a coalition of organizational partners to push wage theft legislation at the state house.  After 2 failed attempts, the coalition successfully advocated for the 2014 passage of the Wage Protection Act, which allowed the state of Colorado to hire 17 wage claim investigators, who received over 4,000 complaints in the first half of 2017, resulting in the payment of over $793,000 in back wages to workers and over $1 million in penalties.

For more information, please contact Allex Luna here.