Collective Bargaining Agreement Overview

The full Collective Bargaining Agreement, last amended in Fall 2023, is linked here.

The 2022 Collective Bargaining Agreement, our inaugural CBA, is linked here.

To understand the terms used, the following definitions would be helpful.

  • Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)
    • An agreement between a union and the employer, different than an assistantship contract which is between a bargaining unit member and the University.
  • Bargaining Unit Member / Employee
    • A Bargaining Unit Member is anyone covered by this contract (all Graduate Assistants, Teaching Assistants/Associates, Research Assistants, and Project Assistants). In this summary, the term “graduate worker” is used instead of Bargaining Unit Member for clarity.
  • Bargaining Unit
    • The Bargaining Unit includes all graduate students holding assistantships at UNM main and branch campuses.
  • Just cause
    • A standard that requires employers to provide notice, reasonable rule and order, a fair investigation, proof, equal treatment and appropriate discipline / penalty.
  • Reopener
    • An annual negotiation limited to a select number of articles of the contract.
  • Ratification
    • Finalization of a contract that is approved by both sides of a negotiation.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement is here. You can read summaries of different sections of the agreement below.


  • 10% increase to minimum stipends for all graduate workers. This will affect all at minimum pay and the minimum pay that the university offers for future students.
  • 7.12% increase to each graduate worker salary that is above minimum pay.
  • Workers at or below the minimum will get a 10% increase
  • RAs are included in these increases, but with the same language that is used for faculty – “subject to availability of research contract funding”.
  • Compensation will have annual reopener (see Duration).

What changes with this article?

  • RAs and PAs will now have a minimum stipend / hourly rate.
  • TAs, GAs and PAs will all receive between a 7.1-10% raise depending on how their current stipend is related to the minimums
  • RAs will receive a raise unless there isn’t grant funding available.
  • The Union will have an opportunity every year to renegotiate minimum stipends and annual raises. We will be negotiating again for increases between Sep. 15 and Oct 15 of 2023 (less than 9 months from now).

  • 2 weeks paid medical leave for illness, injury, or medical condition
    • Requests need to be submitted to supervisors in writing
    • If your supervisor unjustly denies medical leave, you can have the Office of Academic Personnel (OAP) review this denial.
  • We have 3 days of paid bereavement leave if an immediate family member dies (can be adopted, step, or foster). This is for all grad workers of all FTE percentages.

What changes with this article? 

  • Bereavement leave is a brand new benefit, paid medical leave was technically in UNM policy but most graduate workers were not informed of this benefit and there was no clear process to enforce it.

International Student Fee Reimbursement

  • The University will reimburse the SEVIS fee which is a $350 expense for every single graduate student regardless of assistantship. This reimbursement will occur the day after the last day to drop classes at UNM.
  • This proposal has been given to us in writing and conveyed to the Global Education Office. However, it will not appear in the contract as it will now be given to all international graduate students, not just employees.

Non Discrimination

  • Both the University and the Union agree that neither the Union nor the University’s respective policies or activities will discriminate against any graduate worker based on race, age, gender, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, United States military veteran’s status, or disability.
    • A graduate employee may seek assistance regarding discrimination through the University’s Office of Compliance, Ethics, & Equal Opportunity, and/or the appropriate enforcement administrative agency.
  • There shall be no discrimination, interference, restraing, or coercion by either the Union or the University against any graduate worker based on membership or non-membership in the Union.
  • Individuals can file complaints regarding a violation of this article by filing with the Office of Academic Personnel in writing.
    • OAP will provide a copy of the complaint to the Dean of the employing unit, and an investigation into the complaint will begin, which will be completed within 60 days barring unusual circumstances
    • Both the person making a complaint and the responding party will be provided with a copy of the investigative report.

What changes with this article?

  • Both the University and the Union agree to not discriminate against protected classes.
  • OAP must investigate violations of this article within 60 days in most cases for those who file complaints.

Parking and Transportation

  • Grad workers can buy student permits that they are eligible for for the same price as students
  • Grad workers can set up a payment plan for parking permits through their bursar’s account to be paid over the Fall semester without additional charges for the payment plan.
  • UNM PATS buses continue to be free. ABQ Ride bus passes will also continue to be available to grad workers.
  • UNM will continue to make bike storage options available to grad workers (such as the bike corral in PAIS or outside bike lockers for rent).
    • Will inform grad workers of bike storage options at orientation and at the beginning of each semester
    • Will also make bike theft statistics publicly available

What changes with this article?

  • Grad workers may now enter a payment plan over the fall semester for parking permits.
  • Bike commuting information and stats will be made publicly available.


  • UNM will continue to pay 100% of our insurance premiums for grad workers at .25 FTE and above.
  • The UNM Dental Clinic and UNM Dental Hygiene Services have low cost options for cleanings and fillings.

What changes with this article?

  • No new benefits, but we have protected 100% coverage of insurance premiums.

Training and Professional Development

  • The University is responsible for providing training, orientation, and in-service training programs for all graduate workers. Graduate workers may be required to attend orientation and training as determined by the University, employing unit, and/or supervisor. Training may be required as a condition of an assistantship.
    • Training for new Teaching Assistants will begin prior to the start of or during their first semester with a UNM teaching assignment or their first semester as a primary instructor of record. 
    • If training for new TAs cannot begin prior to the start of their first semester with a UNM teaching assignment or their first semester as a primary instructor of record, such training shall begin within the first two weeks of the new TAs employment.
    • The University will pay the fees for attendance at any conferences or other professional development training at which a graduate worker’s attendance is required.
    • A graduate worker who is required to attend training prior to the start date of the assistantship contract will be paid for the training.
    • Graduate workers will submit requests for training in writing to their supervisor.
      • Graduate workers who believe their training needs have not been adequately addressed by their supervisor should report such concerns to the Department Chair.
    • The University will continue to make diversity training available to graduate workers.
      • The University may mandate a particular diversity training for graduate workers
      • The University will provide information to graduate workers regarding resources available for teaching and working with a diverse student body. This information will be included during new graduate assistant orientation and in an email to all bargaining unit members within the first two weeks of the start of each semester.

What changes with this article?

  • First-time TAs will receive training before the start of the semester or within the first two weeks
  • Pre-semester training will be paid
  • Any other training will be paid for
  • Diversity training for working with diverse populations will be made available


  • Allows a process for disputing a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, appealing discipline/discharge, etc.
  • Process:
    • Informal Step: A bargaining unit member who feels they have a grievance will discuss it with their immediate supervisor to resolve the grievance.
    • Step One: Written Notice to Chair or Director or Designee. A bargaining unit member will file a written grievance with their chair or director (or designee) outlined in their contract with a copy sent to the Office of Academic Personnel within 15 days of the cause of grievance (or learning of the cause of grievance). Any meeting with their chair or director should be held within five days of this notification. The chair or director will provide a written response to the grievance within ten days of this meeting. If the matter is not resolved satisfactorily, the grievant may file a written grievance at Step Two within 15 days of the initial filing with the chair or director.
    • Step Two: Written Notice to Dean or Designee. Within 15 days of the initial filing with the chair or director (or designee), a written grievance must be filed with the Dean (or designee) of the College in which the worker is employed. In the event of no Dean being in supervision of the worker’s contract, the Office of Academic Personnel will designate an official with whom to file. The worker or a Union Representative and the Dean (or designee) should meet within five days of this written notice. A written response to resolve the issue will be provided within ten days of this meeting. If the worker or a Union Representative is not satisfied with the resolution within 30 days of the Dean’s (or designee’s) response, the worker or the Union Representative may take the issue to Arbitration.
    • Step Three: Arbitration. If a worker/Union Representative is dissatisfied with the resolution in Step Two, they may file a written appeal with intent to arbitrate to the Office of Academic Personnel within 30 days of the Dean’s/Designee’s response in Step 2. This leads to the listing of seven arbitrators from the region with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). The parties involved in the grievance strike names one-by-one until one arbitrator remains (with the grievant striking first). Within 48 hours of this striking of names, the chosen arbitrator shall be provided to FMCS. The arbitrability of the grievance will be determined by the arbitrator within 20 days of their acceptance of the appointment. A hearing takes place following this. The arbitrator will provide their decision based solely on applying the contract within twenty days of the close of the hearing. The arbitrator’s decision is final and binding. The cost of this process, including the arbitrator’s costs and any court reporter or transcripts, will be shared equally between the grievant and the University.
      • The 30 day arbitration submission enables sufficient time for the issue to be taken before the Union for a vote – if the grievance is approved by the general membership as arbitrable, the Union will support the cost; otherwise, the grievant may proceed with arbitration without the financial support of the Union.

What does this article mean?

  • We now have a grievance procedure. This may end in settlement or arbitration.
  • Individual workers, a group of workers, or the University may file grievances
  • We will vote as general membership if a grievance is arbitrable or not, which will determine if we will cover the cost of arbitration for the grievant.

Work Materials

  • The employer will determine and provide (at no charge) the appropriate resources necessary for the performance of a grad worker’s duties.
    • Appropriate resources may include, but are not limited to technology, technological support, equipment, required materials, office supplies, external hard drive, software subscriptions, travel expenses, and training necessary. 
  • Grad workers who need access to buildings/areas after work hours will be provided that access prior to starting work duty
    • Grad workers who believe their duties require access and have been denied can petition the Chair/Director.
  • Grad workers who will need to pay for printing and copying expenses relating to their assistantship should request reimbursement from their supervisor prior to printing/copying.
  • The University will provide graduate workers with facilities and services appropriate and necessary for performing their duties in a professional atmosphere. Requests for resources/concerns can be made in accordance with set University/department/program procedure.
  • If a department has specified a textbook for a class, the department will provide the textbook assigned to the graduate worker teaching said class.
  • Graduate workers teaching classes, or who otherwise have to meet with students privately as part of their assistantship, will be provided with access to a private office/area to meet with students.
    • Employing unit will determine if there’s a need for such a space
    • If graduate workers must share a space, each person sharing the space will be provided a designated area in the shared space to secure their items
    • If a department cannot find a shared office space for graduate workers, the college or school will attempt to find office space in a location close to the department. If the department still cannot find space, they will let the graduate worker know.
  • Employing units will provide mailboxes for graduate workers. No more than 5 workers will share a mailbox.
  • Requests for working remotely should be addressed to the graduate worker’s immediate supervisor in writing, and will be handled according to University policy on telecommuting and remote work

What changes in this article?

  • Work space (either private or shared) will be provided for workers that have to meet with students privately as part of their assistantship, unless such a space cannot be secured.
  • Materials necessary to complete tasks of an assistantship will be provided to the graduate worker at no cost.
  • Grad workers will have access to their work spaces after hours.
  • Grad workers will have mailboxes.
  • Grad workers may put in requests to work remotely according to University policy.

Timely Delivery of Contracts

  • Draft assistantship contracts will have info about your assistantship type, FTE, salary or hourly rate, general duties, required coursework, benefits, required training, amount of time to accept the offer, statement about enrollment requirements and a link to the CBA
  • TAs won’t be required to teach classes conflicting with their courses
  • Draft assistantship contracts go to OGS where they become formal assistantship contracts, which will usually occur at least 20 days in advance of the start date
  • Only draft assistantship contracts and assistantship contracts are considered valid offers
  • The amount of hours in the contract is an estimate of how many you are expected to work on average

What changes with this article?

  • Requires a description of what your job entails (course you’ll be teaching for TAs, research project for RAs, etc.)
  • Assistantships won’t conflict with required courses
  • Draft assistantship contracts can be used to clarify contract language without an intense back-and-forth with OGS
  • Contracts will normally be finalized within 20 days of the start of your position, but does allow for assistantships to be offered closer to the start date than that
  • There’s now an expectation that your contract only expects you to work the number of hours on it on average.

Discipline & Discharge

  • No bargaining unit members shall be disciplined, suspended, or discharged except for just cause.
    • Discipline includes written reprimand, suspension without pay, or discharge.
    • Disciplinary discharge refers to separation of a bargaining unit member from an active assistantship during the current term unrelated to a bargaining unit member’s academic performance or revoking a future contract based on issues unrelated to a bargaining unit member’s academic performance or unrelated to lack of funds for that position. 
    • Termination of an active assistantship for academic reasons or non-renewal of an assistantship is not a disciplinary discharge.  
  • A bargaining unit member may be accompanied by a Union Steward during an investigatory interview of a bargaining unit member.
    • Union Stewards may not stop an investigation but may ask clarifying questions or confer with a bargaining unit member during an investigatory interview. 
    • In the event a Union Steward is not immediately available, the University may delay the interview, up to two (2) regular business days until a representative is available
    • The University can
      • Deny the request and end the interview
      • Allow the bargaining unit member go to through with the interview
      • Allow the bargaining unit member to end the interview
      • In the event a Union Steward is not immediately available, the University may delay the interview, up to two (2) regular business days until a representative is available,
    • In emergency situations, or situations that require immediate action, the University may proceed with the investigatory interview without the presence of a Union steward. 
  • Except where otherwise provided by law, a bargaining unit member will be provided written charges against the bargaining unit member and notice of a predetermination meeting.
    • The purpose of the predetermination meeting is to provide the bargaining unit member an opportunity to respond to the claims. 
    • A Union steward may accompany a bargaining unit member during the predetermination meeting. The University will wait for one (1) day for a Union Steward to be 
    • In emergency situations, or situations that require immediate action, the University may go ahead with the meeting without a steward

What changes with this article?

  • A Union Steward may accompany you in investigatory interviews that may result in disciplinary action, unless extreme circumstances exist (these are known as Weingarten rights).
  • Employees will be provided with written charges and notice of a predetermination meeting, so that they may accurately respond to claims against them (can also bring a Union Steward with them).
  • Assistantships cannot be terminated for disciplinary reasons without just cause.

Management Rights

  • UNM retains rights set forth in the New Mexico Public Employee Bargaining Act.
  • They include determining the mission of the school, standards and expectations, exercise control over UNM property, to direct workers, to hire/fire/assign, and to act in emergency. 

What changes with this article?

  • The University is restricted to the rights in these articles.
  • There are clear definitions of the circumstances under which they can do these things.

Union Rights

  • FERPA waivers will be provided to all graduate workers within ten days of hire (and within ten days of this agreement going into effect)
    • This allows the University to provide us with information necessary to maintain effective records.
  • Dues will be automatically deducted from paychecks of card-signed members, though membership will remain voluntary.

What changes with this article?

  • When a graduate worker signs a dues authorization card, dues will be deducted from paychecks by the University, and will be remitted monthly to the Union.

Labor-Management Committee

  • Intended to collaborate “in the interest of the educational, research, and public service mission of the University”.
  • The labor-management committee is composed of up to three (3) members appointed by the Union and three (3) members appointed by the University.  
  • The Committee will meet at least two (2) times per semester to discuss and address issues of concern including terms and conditions of employment and interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement, and more.

What changes with this article?

  • A committee will be formed between the Union and the University to attempt to resolve non-economic issues that grad workers face outside of bargaining at least twice per semester.


  • This contract will continue in full effect until January 1, 2025
  • The compensation article may be reopened each calendar year between September 15 and October 15.
    • The whole contract comes under renegotiation in 2024, so this mostly lets compensation be renegotiated within the next year.
  • The next contract should be initiated between September 15 and October 15, 2024

What does this article mean?

  • The contract will last about two years if ratified now
  • We will have a reopener for compensation to negotiate for higher raises and higher minimums in Fall 2023

Zipper Clause (complete and entire agreement)

  • This contract (once ratified) is the complete and only agreement between the Union and the University and replaces any and all previous agreements. There shall be no additional negotiations on any part of the contract except by written and mutual agreement between the Union and University. 
  • Both the Union and the University acknowledge that during bargaining, each party had the unlimited right and opportunity to make demands and proposals (with respect to collective bargaining rules), and that all agreements were made after both parties fairly exercised their right to bargain.
    • The University and the Union, for the duration of this contract, waives the right to bargain collectively on any subject not covered in this contract and understand that we cannot obligate the other party to bargain on any subject not covered in this contract.

What does this article mean?

  • The only thing we can renegotiate, if the contract is ratified, before January 1, 2025 is the Compensation Article.


  • This Agreement (contract) is interred into by and between the University of New Mexico (“the University”) and United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (“the Union”).

What does this article mean?

  • The CBA is between UE (our union) and the University


  • The University recognizes the Union as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for all full-time and part-time graduate students holding an assistantship engaged in instruction and/or research at the University’s campuses at Albuquerque, Gallup, Taos, Los Alamos, and Valencia County, including the following positions: Graduate Assistant Regular; Graduate Assistant Special; Project Assistant; Research Assistant; Teaching Assistant Regular; Teaching Assistant Special; and Teaching Associate.

What does this article mean?

  • The Union represents and bargains for all graduate students holding assistantships of any kind across all UNM campuses, regardless of if they have signed a Union card or not, and  the University cannot make unilateral changes to our graduate working conditions without negotiating first.

Duty to Cooperate

  • Agreement that the Union and University will cooperate with each other to create a work environment that is respectful, responsive, efficient, and accountable.

What does this article mean?

  • The University has to work with the Union to adequately resolve issues for grad workers.

Health and Safety

  • The University shall provide a safe working environment that complies with State and Federal laws
    • Grad workers shall notify the University in writing of any safety or health concerns
  • The University will provide protective equipment that is determined necessary for each grad worker to do their job
    • Grad workers should alert their direct supervisor if they have questions or concerns about protective equipment
  • If the Union determines that there is a safety issue that has not been resolved by an immediate supervisor, a Union Steward may request a labor management meeting to address the safety concerns with the employing unit Chair, Director, or other appointed person, or another person designated by the Office of Academic Personnel.

What changes in this article?

  • These are all rights that currently exist for employees; however, the Union may now request a labor management meeting if a safety issue has not been resolved by a graduate worker’s supervisor.


  • All articles in the agreement are subject to law and will become null and void if the law changes. All other articles will not be affected if this occurs to a single article and would remain in affect.

What does this article mean?

  • For example, we told UNM that if we get a response to our joint letter from the Attorney General that states that the University is only legally permitted to pay 80% of our premiums, then we will go back into negotiations on just health insurance but the rest of the contract remains in effect.