Report Summary: During the Fall 2020 semester over 1,000 graduate employees at UNM signed union cards and joined the United Graduate Workers (UGW-UE). During the Spring 2021 semester the research committee of UGW-UE surveyed 408 graduate employees representing 52 departments and every graduate worker job classification. This survey found that while graduate labor brings significant value to UNM (graduate Teaching Assistants alone account for over $12 million in undergraduate tuition every semester) graduate workers are overworked and underpaid. 60% of survey respondents reported relying on personal savings due to low wages, 65% of respondents have ignored medical issues or delayed treatment due to inadequate health insurance coverage and only .5% of respondents ranked their financial security as “very secure”. 65% of respondents reported working more hours than was stipulated in their contracts. 79% of graduate workers who filed harassments or discrimination complaints reported they were dissatisfied with the process and outcome. Graduate workers have also been burdened by extra precarity and financial insecurity due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Survey respondents spent an average of $595 of their personal money to facilitate the transition to remote learning and reported a lack of inclusion in decisions regarding covid workplace safety.
Graduate employees filed for union recognition with the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations in December of 2020 to engage in collective bargaining to remedy these issues.