Lawmakers back Denver Planned Parenthood workers' union cause


Legislators who defend reproductive rights on Tuesday urged Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains to support another Democratic value, the right to unionize.

The question for workers at metro Denver clinics is pending before the National Labor Relations Board. Denver-area clinic workers voted in December to form a union. Management appealed to the NLRB, contending workers at the Denver clinics shouldn’t be able to silo themselves off from the rest of Planned Parenthood of the Rockies.

If the NLRB allows a new vote, it would include clinics in Alamosa, Durango, Cortez and Salida in western Colorado; Farmington and Albuquerque in New Mexico, as well as Las Vegas, Nev.

The workers are being represented by the politically savvy Service Employees International Union 105, pitting two of Democrats main supporters — unions and women’s health and reproductive rights advocates — against one another, while turning to an agency led by the Trump administration to settle the dispute.

“We pledge our support to the PPRM employees of Colorado in their fight for a voice on the job to be able to better serve their patients and strengthen PPRM,” states the letter from 37 Democratic lawmakers. “Through a democratic election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), these employees have voted to come together in one voice and form a union. We call on PPRM leadership and management to recognize and respect the vote of their employees to form a union, and we ask that they immediately withdraw their appeal at the NLRB.”

The letter goes on to make the workers’ case for higher wages and better working conditions at 14 Denver-area clinics, noting management’s resistance.

“Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains values the choice of every single employee impacted by the important decision to form a union,” spokesperson Whitney Phillips told Colorado Politics. “Over the past year, SEIU Local 105 worked to organize only 14 of our 24 health centers (14 of 18 in Colorado, 0 of 4 in New Mexico, and 0 of 2 in Southern Nevada).

“During this time, we communicated repeatedly our belief that all workers should have their voices heard, urging SEIU to include all health center staff in any proposed bargaining unit. With less than 40 percent of all health center employees voting to form a union, we requested that the National Labor Relations Board reconsider the exclusion of employees at 10 of our health centers. PPRM respects the long history of our partnership with unions and believes in the important contributions labor makes in our communities. We urge SEIU to allow all our employees the opportunity to make this important decision for themselves.”

Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver; Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver; and Sen. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, delivered the letter Planned Parenthood Tuesday, according to the union.

“We find it surprising and troubling that when frontline employees have made the choice to sit at the table when pay, working conditions, safety and customer satisfaction are discussed Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains leadership would fail to respect that choice,” the three lawmakers said in a joint statement.

The rest of the legislators who endorsed the letter are:

Sen. Daneya Esgar, D-PuebloSen. Steve Fenberg, D-BoulderSen. Rhonda Fields, D-AuroraSen. Matt Jones, D-LouisvilleSen. Andy Kerr, D-LakewoodSen. Susan Lontine, D-DenverSen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado SpringsSen. Nancy Todd, D-AuroraSen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-ArvadaRep. Jeni James Arndt, D-Fort CollinsRep. KC Becker, D-BoulderRep. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood VillageRep. James Coleman, D-DenverRep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat RidgeRep. Alec Garnett, D-DenverRep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort CollinsRep. Matt Gray, D-BroomfieldRep. Leslie Herod, D-DenverRep. Edie Hooton, D-BoulderRep. Dominique Jackson, D-DenverRep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce CityRep. Chris Kennedy, D-LakewoodRep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado SpringsRep. Barbara McLachlan, D-DurangoRep. Dan Pabon, D-DenverRep. Brittany Pettersen, D-LakewoodRep. Dylan Roberts, D-EagerRep. Paul Rosenthal, D-DenferRep. Joe Salazar, D-ThorntonRep. Jonathan Singer, D-LongmontRep. Mike Weissman, D-AuroraRep. Angela Williams, D-DenverRep. Faith Winter, D-WestminsterRep. David Young, D-Greeley

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