Believe it or not, Northern Colorado is represented by over 50 labor unions (1) that protect the rights of workers touching every facet of our daily lives here in Colorado. Much of what happens behind the scenes we take for granted, but without a strong union bargaining voice behind these workers, many of the goods and services we are provided on a daily basis might not be available. Why, you may ask, would I not be able to get the products I want if it were it not for union worker representation? Simple, unions provide a single, united voice for the workers so that wages and benefits are fair for the jobs they perform and that workers meet a certain skill level, thus preventing unskilled or marginally skilled workers from being hired. Unions also provide on-site union representatives so that health and safety violations can be brought to the attention of management and quickly corrected. While these measures protect the workers, the correction of health and safety violations ultimately protect the consumer.
Let’s look at a few instances of how union workers are responsible for the goods and services you buy and receive every day. You get up in the morning and sit down to breakfast. Mom has just been to the grocery store to buy food for the week. Those workers are most likely covered by a chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers or the Grocery Clerks Union or perhaps the BCTGM- the Bakery Confectionery Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union. Let’s not forget the produce, meat, poultry and dry goods that were trucked in by the IBT-International Brotherhood of Teamsters drivers and in many instances, those strawberries and peaches were picked by United Farm Workers union employees. Now that breakfast is over, you get into your Toyota, built by union workers covered under the UAW-United Auto Workers.. On the way to work you drop the kids at school. Those teachers in Greeley, Westminster, Ft Collins and the surrounding areas are most likely member of the AFT- American Federation of Teachers. On the way to work, you encounter an accident and traffic is being redirected by the local police in Ft Collins. Those Officers are under the FOP- Fraternal Order of Police union that helps insure their safety and that of their families in this dangerous line of work. At noon, your wife calls and says the Cable is not working properly, so you call Qwest and they send out a tech to fix the problem. That tech is a member of the Colorado CWA- Communication Workers of America. Finally, the day is done and you drive home, stopping at the mailbox to get those nasty bills that always seem to show up. That mail was handled and delivered by your neighbors who work for the Postal Service under the NPMHU- National Postal Mail Handlers Union or the NALC- National Association of Letter Carriers. Home at last, time to put your feet up and open a cold Budweiser. By theway, you can thank the workers in Ft Collins, local 267 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for that beer. Now, I’ve only covered a small part of your day and the people you interface with that are members of Colorado’s vast network of unions that cover everything from construction workers to government employees and a host of other professions that look to labor unions for their voice in collective bargaining to insure a liveable wage, fair benefits and safe working conditions. In answer to the question, do labor unions have an impact on Northern Colorado? Just look around as you go through your day, the answer is quite clear.