On June 16, 2020, the Colorado Partnership for Quality Jobs and Service Act (the Act) was enacted.
The Act requires WINS to represent all covered employees. Generally, covered employees are employees in the state personnel system, also known as classified employees. There are exceptions, though, including confidential employees, managerial employees, executive employees, administrative law judges, hearing officers, state troopers, employees in the legislative branch, and temporary employees.
These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been developed to assist employees with questions they may have pertaining to the Act and Agreement. They have been updated following the ratification and signing of the Partnership Agreement on November 18, 2021.
Last Updated: July 6, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who is COWINS?
A. COWINS stands for Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions. It is the employee organization representing classified, covered state employees. COWINS describes themselves as a union “working to improve the quality of services, safety, pay and benefits, working conditions, conflict resolution, staff attrition and more to ensure an effective workforce to serve all Coloradans.”
Q. How did COWINS become the employee organization representing covered state employees?
A. Shortly after former Governor Bill Ritter signed Executive Order D 028 07 “Authorizing Partnership Agreements with State Employees” in November 2007, elections of eligible state employees were held across the state. In June 2008, more than 50% of the eligible employees who voted selected COWINS to represent them. Under Section 24-50-1105(2) of the Act, COWINS continues to be the Certified Employee Organization (commonly referred to as “union”) representing all covered employees.
Q. How does an employee contact COWINS or find out more information about the organization?
Q. How does an employee become a member of COWINS?
A. Employees should contact COWINS at firstname.lastname@example.org or (720) 614-1547 for information on becoming a member.
Q. How does an employee request the State to refrain from sharing any personal information with COWINS?
A. Covered employees may opt in or opt out of their personal information being shared with COWINS through the Employee Self Service (ESS) website. Navigate to the left side of the page, click on “Personal” then click “Authorization” to share personal Information with COWINS. Once at the authorization page, employees will be prompted to make a selection. After selecting an option they would click “Submit.” Non-classified and other non-covered employees will not have any information shared with COWINS and as such, there is no need to opt in or opt out.
Employees in Institutions of Higher Education or other employees that may not have access to ESS may use the web-based form to opt in or opt out of their personal information being shared with COWINS.
Q. Should employees be directed to visit Employee Self Service (ESS) to opt-out of the State sharing any personal information with COWINS?
A. If a current employee asks how to opt out, you may direct them to the ESS website. The State must remain neutral regarding any communication to employees about COWINS or any other employee organization, and you should not proactively raise the issue of personal information being shared with COWINS, or the opt-out process generally. New employees will be provided an initial notification when they begin their new roles with the State.
Q. Is COWINS permitted to call employees or visit them at their personal residence?
A. Employees should contact COWINS at email@example.com or (720) 614-1547 to discuss their communications with employees.
Q. How will the Act affect the relationship between covered employees and management?
A. The Act was designed to ensure that the State, through its chosen representatives, “jointly work to promote cooperative relationships with the shared goal of providing the best possible services to the taxpayers and residents of the state.” However, nothing in the Act prevents the State from convening, or engaging in discussions with any state employee or group of state employees to: (a) exercise any right or responsibility reserved to an appointing authority; (b) determine and carry out any mission, initiative, task force, agenda, policy, or program; (c) establish and oversee budget, finances, and accounting; (f) determine utilization of technology; (g) negotiate with, procure, and administer contracts; (h) make, amend and enforce, or revoke reasonable personal conduct rules; or (i) take any actions necessary to carry out any government function during an emergency.
Additionally, the State may respond to questions from a covered employee pertaining to the covered employee’s employment or any matter, provided that such response is neutral toward participation, selection, and membership in an employee organization.
Q. What rights will the State continue to have regarding operations?
A. The Act preserves certain “management rights.” Specifically, the Act recognizes the ability of the State to: (a) exercise any right or responsibility reserved to an appointing authority, the [state personnel] director, or the state personnel board pursuant to the state personnel system and rules or procedures of either the state personnel board or the [state personnel] director; (b) determine and carry out any mission, initiative, task force, agenda, policy, or program of any department, division office, or other subdivision of the state; (c) establish and oversee budget, finances, and accounting; (d) determine utilization of technology; (e) negotiate with, procure and administer contracts the state has the lawful authority to enter; (f) make, amend and enforce, or revoke reasonable personal conduct rules; or (g) take such actions as may be necessary to carry out any government function during an emergency.
Additionally, nothing in the Act prevents the State from convening or engaging in discussions with any state employee or group of state employees to accomplish any of the matters listed above.
The Partnership Agreement reiterates the Executive and Management Rights consistent with the Act.
Q. Does COWINS need to be notified of any corrective actions?
A. No. There is no requirement in the Act or the State Personnel Board Rules to notify COWINS or any employee representative about corrective actions that have been issued. If an employee chooses to share a corrective action with COWINS, it is the employee’s right to do so.
Q. Should COWINS be provided access to meeting and bulletin board spaces?
A. Yes, with reasonable limitations. It is suggested that requests be handled as outlined in the State Personnel Board Rules and your Department’s access protocol or any current agreement with COWINS, and in consultation with DHR’s Labor Relations team, which can be reached at DPA_LaborRelations@state.co.us.
Board Rule 1-18 states: “Employees have the right to associate, self-organize, and designate representatives of their choice.” . . . “Such conferences should be scheduled to minimize disruption to productivity and the general work environment. A supervisor’s consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.”
If a Department has a pre-existing partnership agreement pertaining to building access, meeting space and/or meeting with employees, they should abide by that agreement until it is superseded with the statewide Agreement or other Department partnership agreement.
Q. What happens if the State engages in any prohibited activities?
A. The State could be subjected to an unfair labor practice (ULP) filing subject to review by CDLE-DLSS if it engages in any prohibited activities or fails to discharge its duties outlined in the Act. Additionally, a State Entity could be subject to a Partnership Agreement Dispute if it violates its duties under the Partnership Agreement.
Q. May employees use their work emails to send COWINS information?
A. Covered employees are permitted to communicate with one another and with COWINS about COWINS and workplace issues using work email. Generally, covered employees can send and receive such emails before and after work, during duty-free breaks, and occasionally during work time. However, the State’s expectation is that working time is for employees to carry out their work duties for the benefit of the people of the State, and for that reason personal and non-duty related emails during working time (no matter the subject) should be limited and occasional, and should never interfere with any work or any employees’ duties. Covered employees must also follow applicable policies regarding the proper and secure use of State email systems.
Q. May an employee wear a pro- or anti- COWINS button or hat in the workplace?
A. In general, covered employees may wear pro- or anti-COWINS clothing so long as it complies with the dress code of your department, office or institution. If an employee is able to wear a hat for their favorite sports team, for example, they may wear items that show support for COWINS. However, a covered employee may be asked to remove an item if it poses a safety hazard due to the nature of the employee’s work.
The State and its designees and agents may not wear pro- or anti-COWINS clothing in the workplace because non-covered employees must remain neutral about COWINS involvement.
Q. May an employee distribute or post COWINS literature?
A. Covered employees are permitted to distribute COWINS literature at work during non-work time. Additionally, COWINS Officials or Stewards may post COWINS literature on bulletin boards, subject to reasonable restrictions which would apply to other non-work related items, as outlined in Article 5.6: Bulletin Boards of the Partnership Agreement.
Q. May employees participate in COWINS activities during work time?
A. Aside from NEO, time spent on COWINS activities should generally be conducted outside of work time such as after work, lunch periods, and breaks. While covered employees may spend incidental time at work on COWINS activities, such as reviewing communications from COWINS or visiting COWINS’ website, Employees are still expected to perform their duties during work time. Employees that are COWINS stewards may participate in COWINS activities during work time consistent with Article 5 of the Partnership Agreement. If you have questions about whether a particular activity is allowed during work time, please reach out to your HR representative.
Q. Is COWINS allowed to talk to covered employees while they are at work?
A. Yes, with reasonable limitations. COWINS shall have reasonable access to covered employees at work through electronic communication, on-site visitation, and other means as further outlined in Articles 5: Union Rights, Article 7: New Employee Orientation, Article 9: Partnership Agreement Dispute Resolution Process, and Article 18: Corrective and Disciplinary Actions of the Partnership Agreement.
New employees and COWINS members/representatives can talk for thirty (30) minutes on work time during new hire orientation (NEO) or scheduled new employee training time. Employees can also talk during unpaid lunch periods, breaks, and before and after work. Covered employees have the right to communicate with one another and with employee organization representatives concerning organization, representation, workplace issues, the partnership process, and the business and programs of Certified Employee Organizations by means of email systems, texts, other electronic communications, telephone, paper documents, and other means of communication subject to reasonable restrictions.
Q. What is protected concerted activity?
A. Protected concerted activity, or “PCA”, is the right of covered employees to:
Engage in concerted activities for the purpose of the COWINS partnership process or other mutual aid or protection. Employees have the right to engage in these activities without interference, restraint, or coercion by the state or COWINS. Interference with the PCA of a covered employee constitutes an unfair labor practice. PCA may include activities that occur during work time, such as attending a work meeting as a COWINS steward, but may also occur outside work time, such as attending an after-hours COWINS event. When PCA occurs during work time, employees must still follow applicable State policies and cannot disrupt, on a widespread basis, the day-to-day functioning of the state or any of its agencies or departments.
Opt-Out / Opt-In Form
The following form is a secondary method for employees to opt-out or opt back in for having personal contact information shared with WINs, in case you do not have access to ESS.