A view of the Colorado Capitol on May 9, 2022. (Pema Baldwin for Colorado Newsline)
The Colorado House’s Business Affairs and Labor Committee declined to move forward with a bill that would have protected workers’ right to what sponsors call a “fair workweek.”
State Reps. Emily Sirota and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez brought the Fair Workweek Employment Standards Act to the committee to require employers to maintain somewhat predictable schedules with at least two weeks notice, among other protections. Over a hundred people spoke at the bill’s public hearing in February, sharing conflicting views on the bill’s viability.
“Our workers could never outnumber the corporate lobby, and we could not get out from the piles of misinformation,” Gonzales-Gutierrez said at Thursday’s committee meeting.
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Multiple committee members said they received hundreds of messages from constituents urging them to vote against the bill, and that without any potential amendments they couldn’t bring themselves to support it. Those in opposition to the bill said they appreciated the work put into it but that it ultimately was flawed, in particular with regards to the restaurant industry, as it had the potential to cause further damage with worker shortages and financial loss from the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, what we heard from the committee is that unless we remove protections for all restaurant workers from this bill completely, we don’t have the votes to move this bill forward, and that’s just something we can’t do today,” Sirota said at the committee meeting.
Democratic state Reps. Sheila Lieder and Javier Mabrey were the only ones to support moving the bill forward. Lieder said she wanted to prioritize the needs of workers over the businesses.
“I’m disappointed that the Fair Workweek Act fell short this year, even though sponsors and the coalition tried to find compromises with the opposition,” Sirota said in a statement. “It looks like well-heeled, industry lobbyists won this year, leaving low-wage workers at the mercy of unpredictable schedules that put their health at risk, interfere with their family responsibilities and jeopardize their economic stability.”
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