New CDLE Executive Director has Long History in Progressive Politics

Last month, the Colorado Senate confirmed Ellen Golombek as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) with a vote of 21 to 14. Ms. Golombek replaces Don Mares, whom Gov. Hickenlooper defeated in a runoff election to become mayor of Denver in 2003.

Most recently, Golombek was the state director for America Votes, an advocacy organization for advancing progressive policies. Prior to her work with America Votes, Golombek had a long track record of union involvement. She was elected the first female president of the Colorado AFL-CIO in 2000, but left to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in 2003 as the National Campaign Director of Americans for Health Care. She continued with SEIU in high-profile positions until 2005.
“The unemployment compensation fund exists for the benefit of those who need and deserve it,” says MSEC attorney Curtis Graves. “Ms. Golombek is now in a position to help ensure that the fund is used for that purpose.”

Graves says that in Colorado, the process for determining whether a claimant is entitled to unemployment compensation benefits is skewed against employers. “For example,” Graves says, “the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment allows claimants to submit a written statement to appeal a loss of protest rights, but makes employers go to a hearing.

“Since employers fund unemployment compensation, the CDLE’s rulemaking affects them directly. Ms. Golombek is now the ultimate authority in that process,” Graves says.