Newsletter

November 2021 Issue

Dear UGW Members, 

Thank you to everyone who participated in our first-ever union leadership and bylaws elections! This is a huge step forward as we prepare to negotiate a contract that serves our needs. You can review the results on our website

On Thursday, November 4, 5:30-6:30pm, we will be holding our first Contract Support Committee meeting over Zoom. The role of the Contract Support Committee is to make sure our union is under the best conditions to win a strong first contract, which includes signing up new members, recruiting new stewards, and ensuring high membership participation. One of our first orders of business is to make sure members are filling out our bargaining survey so we know which issues graduate workers find most important. The Contract Support Committee is open to any union member who wants to help UGW win a strong first contract. Just like our newly elected Coordinating Committee and our various other subcommittees, the Contract Support Committee serves a vital role in ensuring we have a strong union!

Warmly, 
United Graduate Workers of UNM

Calendar of Events:

November 4, 5:30-6:30: Contract Support Committee meeting

Labor News!:

  1. Harvard’s grad worker union, HGSU-UAW, went on strike on October 27th. You can read more about the strike here. On October 29, first-year students staged a walk-out during President Bacow’s address for Parents Weekend in support of the striking grad workers. 
  2. On October 28, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of Starbucks workers commencing a union vote in each of the three Buffalo stores whose workers are currently organizing. You can read more about Starbucks’ shameless union-busting, the workers’ struggles, and their road ahead here
  3. After a two-week strike that began October 14, John Deere workers and corporate came to a tentative agreement for a new contract that addresses issues of compensation, equity in pay, and healthcare benefits.

Solidarity Corner:

  1. UNM Leaf, a university-wide coalition for climate justice, recently submitted a complaint against UNM’s investment in fossil fuels to New Mexico’s Attorney General. To learn more about how you can support the divestment effort, check out their website.  
  2. Sign this petition to support our colleagues at NMSU who are dealing with the same union busting lawyer hired by UNM 
  3. Graduate workers across the country are right now unionizing with our union, UE. Please email Duncan Mcgraw (mcgrawd@unm.edu) to join the Solidarity Committee efforts to support our colleagues at MIT and Indiana University in winning their unions this semester! 

Action Item Check-List:

  1. Contact Jens Van Gysel at jens_vg@hotmail.com to learn about becoming a steward and mark your calendar for our next Stewards’ Meeting, 9/2 at 5:30pm. Stewards are union members who take on communicating with 5-10 colleagues and organizing in their departments. 
  2. Sign a union card and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
  3. Join a subcommittee
  4. Join our Slack channel to get more plugged into union communication.

October 2021 Issue

Dear UGW Members, 

On September 3rd, United Grad Workers and our allies within and beyond the university, numbering in the hundreds, rallied and marched on campus to call on President Stokes to negotiate with UNM grad workers. We are humbled by the solidarity of our community, and thank those of you who signed our petition for recognition, showed up at the rally, and otherwise amplified our message. The rally and petition of over 1600 signatures drove the message home that our union is here to stay, and we look forward to sitting down with UNM admin at the bargaining table as soon as possible. 

Reminder: United Grad Workers is currently holding its first union elections! This week, you have the chance to vote on your Bargaining Committee representative(s) and Chief Steward(s), and whether to ratify our proposed bylaws. The polls close Friday, October 8, at 11:59pm, so be sure to make your voice heard! To learn more about the candidates in your School or College, check out our Twitter and Instagram @unmgradworkers as well as our website. You must be a union member to vote, but don’t worry – it’s not too late to sign your union card and receive a ballot! If you haven’t signed a union card yet, you can do so here. If you are a member but did not receive a ballot by email, please contact ugwelections2021@gmail.com

Warmly, 
United Graduate Workers of UNM

Calendar of Events:

October 1-8, 2021: UGW Elections, Virtual Ballots

Labor News!:

Solidarity Corner:

  • Check out these videos from CWA-New Mexico supporting living wages for custodial staff.
  • Please read and share this op-ed from UNM faculty union president on covid concerns from branch campus faculty.

Action Item Check-List:

  1. Vote
  2. Contact Jens Van Gysel at jens_vg@hotmail.com to learn about becoming a steward and mark your calendar for our next Stewards’ Meeting, 9/2 at 5:30pm. Stewards are union members who take on communicating with 5-10 colleagues and organizing in their departments. 
  3. Sign a union card. We will be holding several important votes this fall including leadership elections; become a member so you can vote in your union!
  4. Join a subcommittee
  5. Join our Slack channel to get more plugged into union communication

September 2021 Issue

Dear UGW Members,

On August 17th, the Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) ruled in our favor, deciding what we knew all along: graduate workers are employees and we should be covered under the Public Employee Bargaining Act (PEBA). The board has stated that we have the same right to bargain as all other public employees in New Mexico. For 9 months, we fought tirelessly to bargain with the UNM administration, but our fight is not over! We expect UNM to try and appeal the PELRB’s decision in order to further delay negotiating a new contract with, as we saw them do this with the faculty union. That’s what we are rallying this Friday, September 3rd, at 11 AM in order to pressure the university to bargain with us in a timely fashion. Join us for the rally between the SUB and Mesa Vista and make sure you sign our issues sign-on, which we will deliver to President Stokes at the end of the rally. We encourage all rally participants to wear masks.

We also announced that we will be holding our first elections this past weekend! While UNM may try to stall bargaining, we want to be prepared for the moment we do get to sit down at the bargaining table with them. We have extended our election timeline in order to achieve fuller participation! Between October 1-8, we will be voting on our Coordinating Committee (CC, the main leadership body of the union) and our bylaws. This is an opportunity for you to have a voice in who represents you at the bargaining table in other union decision-making processes – keep an eye for more details about the election in the coming days. As a rank-and-file union, this is a vital step in building an organization that serves its entire bargaining unit. If you are interested in running for a position on the CC, see more details in “Action Item Check List” below.

Warmly,
United Graduate Workers of UNM

Calendar of Events:

September 3rd, 2021: Rally for Recognition @ 11 AM
Location: UNM Campus between the SUB and Mesa Vista

Labor News!:

  • NO CONTRACT, NO SNACKS!” Nabisco workers in all major Oreo bakeries in the U.S. declared a strike in the past two weeks, and are calling on consumers to boycott the company until they secure a better contract. The workers’ grievances include low pay, proposed 12-hour shifts, and job outsourcing.
  • Starbucks workers in Buffalo, NY, commenced a unionization campaign on August 23, with a vote to take place in mid-September. To date, no Starbucks-owned stores in the U.S. are unionized.

Solidarity Corner:

Action Item Check-List:

  1. Sign our issues statement and register to come to our rally on September 3rd!
  2. Members interested in running for a seat in the Coordinating Committee can self-nominate using this form. There are two positions: Bargaining Committee and Chief Steward. You can learn more information about these positions at a virtual informational meeting on September 2 at 2pm. You can also contact Joseph Ukockis at jukockis@unm.edu for more details. If you have never served on a CC, we encourage you to step up! The deadline to self-nominate is Monday, September 20 at 5pm. 
  3. Contact Jens Van Gysel at jens_vg@hotmail.com to learn about becoming a steward and mark your calendar for our next Stewards’ Meeting, 9/2 at 5:30pm. Stewards are union members who take on communicating with 5-10 colleagues and organizing in their departments. 
  4. Sign a union card. We will be holding several important votes this fall including leadership elections; become a member so you can vote in your union!
  5. Join a subcommittee
  6. Join our Slack channel to get more plugged into union communication

August 2021 Issue

Dear UGW Members, 

On July 22nd, we held our most successful Member Town Hall yet! 125 grad workers showed up to discuss our union’s current legal situation and to learn about our next steps in the Fall. We talked about our grievances, launched our issues sign-on, and announced our Sept. 3rd rally (you can register for the rally at the bottom of the sign-on). In spite of the hearing officer’s recommendation that the Public Employee Labor Relations Board rule in favor of UNM admin, this gathering demonstrated our collective power and strengthened our resolve to mobilize our colleagues and to win recognition and the improvements we deserve. 

During its monthly meeting tomorrow, Aug. 3, from 9am-1pm, the PELRB will discuss our case and will likely hold a vote on whether to uphold the hearing officer’s recommended decision. The meeting is available to the public (link and agenda can be found here). Regardless of the outcome, in the coming semester we will be formalizing our union with bylaws, a charter, and elected leadership – now is a great time to get involved!

Warmly, 
United Graduate Workers of UNM

Calendar of Events:

September 3rd, 2021: Rally for Recognition @ 11 AM
Location: UNM Campus between the SUB and Mesa Vista

Labor News!:

This month, 600 Frito-Lay workers in Topeka, Kansas went on a 20-day strike to protest overwork, bad working conditions, and low wages. The strikers won a new union contract that guarantees them at least one day off per week and a 4% wage increase over the next two years.

Solidarity Corner:

  • The CSEU Annual Congress 2021: Academia, Justice and the Workplace will be held virtually on August 12-15. Registration is free!
  • Anishinaabe water protectors are looking for solidarity and frontline support in opposition to Line 3, a proposed pipeline expansion between Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. You can learn more here
  • The state of New Mexico is using federal aid to assist New Mexicans who have suffered financial hardship from the pandemic in paying rent. Go https://www.renthelpnm.org/ to apply for assistance.

Action Item Check-List:

  1. Sign our issues statement and register to come to our rally on September 3rd!
  2. Contact Jens Van Gysel at jens_vg@hotmail.com to learn about becoming a steward and mark your calendar for our next Stewards’ Meeting, 8/5 at 5:30pm. Stewards are union members who take on communicating with 5-10 colleagues and organizing in their departments. 
  3. Sign a union card. We will be holding several important votes this fall including leadership elections next month; become a member so you can vote in your union!
  4. Join a subcommittee

July 2021 Issue

Dear UGW Members,

Last month, the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board’s hearing officer recommended a ruling that excludes us from the Public Employee Bargaining Act. While we will have a chance to appeal this recommendation before the PELRB in the fall, we have not been waiting idly.

Over the past few weeks, we have continued to expand our organizing base across campus and beyond. We are recruiting departmental stewards and fine-tuning our structure and bylaws in preparation for chartering a local UE chapter in the fall. We are reaching out to grad workers at other institutions who have underwent their own struggles for recognition. We are working harder than ever before because, if 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, we cannot go another year without collective bargaining rights. Rent is going up, many of us will have to go back to work in person without any voice in safety protocols, and UNM admin are repeatedly demonstrating that they have no intention to work with us unless they are forced to. We United Grad Workers are not going anywhere – we have the collective power to hold UNM accountable.

Warmly,
United Graduate Workers of UNM

Calendar of Events:

July 8, 2021: Stewards Meeting @ 5:30 PM
https://tinyurl.com/hhac93su
July 22, 2021: Membership Meeting @ 5:30 PM
https://tinyurl.com/9ech47xz

Labor News!:

Solidarity Corner:

Action Item Check-List:

  1. Mark your calendars for our Stewards Meeting (7/8) and Membership Town Hall (7/22)
  2. Sign a union card if you have not already done so!
  3. Contact Membership to get involved as a department steward. Contact Jens Van Gysel at jens_vg@hotmail.com
  4. Join a subcommittee!