Letter: Collective bargaining bill is a pointless cure for a bogus ailment

Colorado Mountain College has never resisted collective bargaining. It’s simply never been an issue, as CMC works very well with its employees. CMC strives to be an employer of choice by offering superior benefits, competitive compensation that is adjusted at or above rates of inflation, opportunities for personal growth and professional advancement, and generous leave and retirement programs.

Unfortunately, several legislators from outside of Western Slope have specifically targeted colleges like CMC and all counties in the state to impose an agenda that is unwarranted and pointless.

Importantly, if this needless bill were to pass, the costs to CMC could be considerable. Conservative estimates from CMC’s finance team suggest that the costs to implement this law could be between $750,000 and $2 million annually. At the same time, $2 million would be equal to the annual payment on the college’s debt, which is enabling the development of highly affordable housing for up to 150 students in the coming years. It is also equal to a tuition increase of more than 17% … forever. The bill also strips the trustees of their authorities to prudently and responsively oversee the college’s operations in ways that are responsive to the needs of small mountain towns.

For years, CMC has stretched itself to provide compensation and benefits to all employees that set the high-water mark among open access public colleges. The college has even added benefits and compensation plans that are nonexistent elsewhere, such as paid annual leave for part-time employees, education benefits for adjunct faculty and their dependents, and annual wellness investments for all. CMC also works strenuously to keep the college’s operating costs below inflation and, consequently, its tuition very low.

The CMC Board of Trustees officially opposes this bill and we urge local governments to stand with us to resist attempts by union lobbyists to scuttle the longstanding authorities of locally elected boards, increase the costs of services to taxpayers, and potentially raise tuition by double-digits.

Current laws do not prohibit collective bargaining at colleges in Colorado. The proposed bill is a solution in search of a problem. Please help in advocating for Colorado’s long-standing traditions of local control of public services. Urge legislators to vote “no” on new collective bargaining bills introduced in the final few weeks of the 2022 legislative session.

Bob Kuusinen

Colorado Mountain College Trustee

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