Updates

December 5th:

Dear Fellow Graduate Workers,

The pressure you have placed on the University has made an impact at the bargaining table. Today, the University offered the following language, “Graduate students who hold an assistantship of 0.25 FTE or greater for at least half of a semester are eligible for 100% coverage of the premium by the University under the graduate student health care plan.” Unless prevented by law, we will be receiving 100% premium coverage!

We continue to propose improvements in employer contributions to dental coverage premium coverage and healthcare coverage for dependents. We are bargaining for healthcare at the table. If improving health insurance is important to you, RSVP for the walkout on Wednesday, December 7th at 12pm.

We’ve made progress throughout the day on union rights which are packaged with management rights as well as the grievance procedure. Each of these proposals are getting closer to an agreement. However, while some of the conversations we had today were productive, UNM has not yet agreed to remove themselves as a grievant in our grievance procedure. We proposed that a grievant be only graduate workers or a group of graduate workers. We anticipate a counter proposal from them on this article as well as others at our last scheduled bargaining session this Friday.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us!

Depending on the progress we make on Friday, it is possible that we will all vote on this contract as early as next week. In order to vote, you must be a Union member. You can sign a Union card here if you haven’t done so.

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

November 16th:

The university is slowly beginning to close in on their last offers regarding everything left on the table. Yet, they are nowhere near what is needed. They are only at a 7.12% raise on the minimum salaries for grad workers. We need these to be much higher. The minimum salaries for grad workers at UNM has barely moved in the past decade. The raise to them needs to be much higher in order to catch up to the years of poverty wages the university has paid us. The university is also still excluding RAs from the overall raises which is unacceptable and completely unrealistic for a fair contract.

In addition to the compensation article, the university is beginning to slow in their movement on Union Rights, Paid Time Off, Benefits, Non-Discrimination, Grievance Procedure, Funding Security, and the International Student Fee Reimbursement. They’ve offered no counters on Funding Security and International Student Fee Reimbursements, and insisted that the University be included as a grievant, despite this being far from the norm across colleges and universities in New Mexico. Within the Paid Time Off article, they continue to resist the idea that all employees should be able to grieve family deaths without worrying about missing work, limiting bereavement leave to those with 0.5 FTE or higher. 

There has also been a change to the bargaining schedule. Management’s bargaining team has rescheduled the final day of bargaining from Wednesday, December 7th to Friday, December 9th.

As always, we will continue to fight to win our first contract before the semester ends! UNM has until December 9th to bargain a fair contract with us! Your involvement is key to the accomplishments we make in this historic campaign for graduate workers in New Mexico.

We will be having our General Membership Meeting TOMORROW (November 17) at 5:30pm in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) or on zoom. Show up to hear updates about our actions and further escalation plans. See you there!

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee


PS: If you have not already signed the petition, you can do so here. You can sign a union card here if you haven’t already!

November 15th:

The No Take Backs Picket today was a huge success! We delivered the petition, now signed by over 800 people, to the UNM administration. Big thank you to everyone for coming to the action and supporting all our graduate workers. We would also like to thank all of our speakers, grad workers, faculty, community members, and undergrads who helped us make an impact at today’s picket. The disruption we’ve caused for the university today has helped us apply pressure on their negotiating team in the bargaining room!

We have continued to make progress on our Non-Discrimination and Grievance Procedure articles by including the Office of Academic Personnel in the investigations of discrimination. This would provide grad workers another avenue to resolve grievances they encounter, and will hopefully bring us closer to an agreement. We will continue negotiating over these articles tomorrow. 

We have finally signed onto a tentative agreement on Parking and Transportation. We have negotiated the inclusion of the ability to use our bursar account to set up a payment plan for buying parking permits. This payment plan will not have extra fees that are usually associated with bursar payment plans. We will also have information regarding parking and bicycle storage being provided at orientation as well as an email at the beginning of each semester. Information about bicycle theft statistics will also be made publicly available. This is an accomplishment, because it will help grad workers commute to work in a more affordable manner.

As always, we will continue to fight to win our first contract before the semester ends! UNM has until December 7th to bargain a fair contract with us! Your involvement is key to the accomplishments we make in this historic campaign for graduate workers in New Mexico.

We will be having our General Membership Meeting this Thursday (November 17) at 5:30pm in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) or on zoom. Show up to hear updates about our actions and further escalation plans. See you there!

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee


PS: If you have not already signed the petition, you can do so here. Moreover, you can sign a union card here.

November 14th:

Before reading this update, please sign our ‘No Take Backs’ petition (if you have not already signed)!

In bargaining today, we focused on the Parking and Transportation article. UNM admin has finally made movement on this proposal and we are closer to an agreement. Along with parking, the UNM bargaining team is pushing for UNM to make conditions on campus better for transit and bicycling. We know high parking fees can be burdensome for grad workers and are working towards allowing members to opt into a payment plan in order to distribute the permit cost over a period of time rather than having it be a high upfront cost.

We will continue to negotiate over this proposal along with compensation. It is imperative that you picket with us TOMORROW, November 15th at 12pm at Dane Smith Hall! We’ll be delivering the No Take Backs petition to the UNM administration during the picket. Help us illustrate to the university that it is APPALLING to force grad workers that are already barely making ends meet to have to pay premiums for their health insurance. Let’s show this university that we’re sticking together and that we need a contract as soon as possible! 

Each of us needs to show up at the picket tomorrow in front of Dane Smith at noon! For us to secure the raise we deserve, and keep up with the rising cost of living, we need to remind President Stokes and Provost Holloway that UNM does not exist without graduate workers. For the University to be a better workplace for everyone, grad workers need to be compensated for their experience and befitting efforts.We must continue to change the dynamic of this University, which is dependent on grad worker exploitation, as we bargain our contract. The University works because we do.

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

November 11th:

Before reading this update, please sign our ‘No Take Backs’ petition (if you have not already signed)!

Today, we received some contention from the University administration’s bargaining team. However, we have now received a counter from them offering Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants, and Project Assistants a 7.12% raise. This is the overall raise that everyone would get. Frustratingly, Research Assistants are still not being included by the University, and our team argued RAs are just as deserving of a raise as GAs and TAs. We pointed out RAs have faced the same increase in inflation and horrible housing costs. Our contract MUST INCLUDE ALL GRADUATE WORKERS. Additionally, they are now offering a 7.12% raise to the minimum stipends. These are the minimum amounts each department must pay their graduate employees. 

For us to secure the raise we deserve to keep up with the rising cost of living, we need to remind President Stokes and Provost Holloway that without graduate workers there is no UNM. In order to make this University a better place for everyone, grad workers need to be properly compensated. We must continue to change the dynamic of this University, which is dependent on grad worker exploitation, as we bargain our contract. The University works because we do.

Picket with us next week on November 15th at noon at Dane Smith Hall! RSVP here and talk to your fellow grad workers about it too! We’ll also be delivering the petition to UNM admin’s bargaining team. Help us illustrate to the university that it is APPALLING to force grad workers that are already barely making ends meet to have to pay premiums for their health insurance. Let’s show this university that we’re sticking together and that we need a contract as soon as possible! 

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

November 8th:

Before reading this update, please sign our ‘No Take Backs’ petition (if you have not already signed)!

Today was a shorter session of negotiations but we did attain another TA! Unfortunately, progress on Non-Discrimination that we saw yesterday has been hampered by the university’s bargaining team. They are now maintaining non-discrimination claims are not grievable when yesterday, the impression was they would be processed. This is a frustrating turn but we will continue to work on this article because we know how important it is for our members to have non-discrimination within our contract.

Thankfully, we have a new tentative agreement on Training and Professional Development. This means we as graduate workers will be given adequate training and knowledge regarding our employment both in advance and on the job. Additionally, this guarantees we will be given training on how to teach a class before being thrown into the classroom like many of us experience now. This article is a big deal and ensures we have the knowledge we need to complete our work and teach.

We have also gone back and forth with the university on many other articles including Parking and Transportation, Paid Time Off, the Grievance Procedure, and of course, Compensation. The university is now proposing a 6.5% raise but has not changed their position on RAs being included. They have proposed the same 6.5% increase to the minimum salaries but we know that this is not enough.

In order for us to gain the raises we need, we need to be a threat to the university. The university works because we do and in order to make this university a better place for everyone, grad workers need to be properly compensated. We must continue to change the dynamic of this university, which is dependent on grad worker exploitation, as we bargain our contract. 

Lastly, picket with us next week when we’ll also be delivering the petition to UNM admin’s bargaining team. Illustrate to the university that it is APPALLING to force grad workers that are already barely making ends meet to have to pay premiums for their health insurance. The picket will be on November 15th at noon at Dane Smith Hall, RSVP here and talk to your fellow grad workers about it too! Let’s show this university that we’re sticking together and that we need a contract as soon as possible! 

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

November 7th:

Before reading this update, please sign our ‘No Take Backs’ petition (if you have not already signed)!

The university administration’s bargaining team gave counters on many contract proposals. We, in turn, made movement and gave our own counter proposals on almost every section of the contract. We have FOUR new tentative agreements on the Complete and Entire Agreement, Authorized Signatures and Attest, Discipline and Discharge, and Labor Management Committee!! We also made progress towards agreeing on training and professional development. Lastly, a momentous step was taken towards Non-Discrimination language and we are pushing for this to be at the forefront of negotiations because of its importance to our members.

Overall, today was a very progressive day but we are still facing issues with the university adding costs to our insurance. We are working on this language but it is imperative that all of us, as members of our union, put pressure on administration so they know this is unacceptable. 

Compensation was again discussed today and we saw the university give another counter on raises. This time, a 5% increase compared to their last counter of 4%. However, it is not significant enough. As we all know, our members face housing instability and food insecurity. We need raises that will guarantee that our members see benefits in their lives. We will continue to push for this at negotiations. 

In order for us to gain the raises we need, we need to be a threat to the university. The university works because we do and in order to make this university a better place for everyone, grad workers need to be properly compensated. We must continue to change the dynamic of this university, which is dependent on grad worker exploitation, as we bargain our contract. 

Lastly, picket with us next week when we’ll also be delivering the petition to UNM admin’s bargaining team. Illustrate to the university that it is APPALLING to force grad workers that are already barely making ends meet to have to pay premiums for their health insurance. The picket will be on November 15th at noon at Dane Smith Hall, RSVP here and talk to your fellow grad workers about it too! Let’s show this university that we’re sticking together and that we need a contract as soon as possible! 

From your Solidaristic Besties,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

October 13th:

Today, we received a proposal from UNM’s team on Training and Professionalization, and gave a proposal on Paid Medical Leave. We have progressed on the latter and are anticipating reaching an agreement that ensures all graduate workers have a clear communication on and ways of tracking their rights to take time off.

Furthermore, we made significant movement on our Compensation proposal, adjusting our proposed stipend minimums and across the board raises to reflect the major movement in UNM’s last proposal on compensation. We used the information UNM provided yesterday and have given UNM’s bargaining team a counter proposal of a 25% raise on the minimum and a following 7.5% increase for every grad worker. Our team argued the importance of raising our stipend minimums because, though many graduate workers make more than these minimums, it is important that we raise the bar so that no one is forced to live off a stipend that has not significantly changed in the last 10 years. When presenting our counters, we highlighted that our peer institutions offer stipends that are significantly more than those at UNM. Further, we reiterated the drastic rise in the cost of housing, food, and other living expenses in Albuquerque. We continue to firmly believe that, by paying educators and researchers a living wage, the quality of teaching and research at UNM will greatly improve. We look forward to receiving UNM’s counter proposal on Compensation, which we are hopeful will move us closer to an agreement that will benefit all our members as soon as possible. 

In order to make this university a better place for everyone, grad workers need to be properly compensated. We must continue to put pressure on the university as we bargain our contract. Each of us needs to help do this by organizing to win the raises and benefits we desperately need. If you want to learn how to get involved, join us for a steward training every Friday at 6pm! They will each be in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) followed by drinks and socializing! Please rsvp here and join us to learn or brush up on your stewarding skills so we can be as organized and united as possible as we proceed with our plan for escalation! Please note we will not have a Contract Support Committee meeting this Thursday (today) due to fall break.

We will be having a Halloween party on October 28th from 6-9pm at our office at 3003 Monte Vista Blvd NE. Spook the Boss!

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

October 12th:

We made significant movement on Work Materials as well as the article on Training and Professional Development. We have officially reached a Tentative Agreement on the Work Material Article! This achievement ensures graduate workers have access to necessary office space, supplies, reimbursement procedures, and applicable work-related travel expenses! This article allows our members to be better equipped to do their jobs and have access to resources that are essential to perform work duties. 

We are close to reaching an agreement on Training and Professional Development as well. Graduate workers care deeply about the education we provide undergraduate students, and we believe that the university should provide training that allows us to make our classes and research accessible to all. Unfortunately, the university’s bargaining team tried to put the burden of such training on graduate workers, arguing that we should seek trainings ourselves through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), rather than creating a centralized training for all graduate workers. While we believe that CTL is an amazing resource, many graduate workers are unaware they have access to it. We have made progress towards creating channels to better communicate pedagogical training already offered at UNM to all graduate workers on a regular and consistent basis. In conjunction with this proposal, we have also received a new proposal from the university’s bargaining team detailing a Labor-Management Committee.

Lastly, we have finally obtained information about our stipends. This means we can begin to analyze this data to provide counters on Compensation and Paid Time Off tomorrow. 

We need your help to organize union members to win the raises and benefits we desperately need. If you want to learn how to get involved, join us for a steward training every Friday at 6pm! They will each be in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) followed by drinks and socializing! Please rsvp here and join us to learn or brush up on your stewarding skills so we can be as organized and united as possible as we proceed with our plan for escalation! Please note we will not have a Contract Support Committee meeting this Thursday due to fall break. 

We will also be having a Halloween party on October 28th from 6-9pm at our office at 3003 Monte Vista Blvd NE. Spook the Boss!

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

October 11th:

We discussed every proposal that has yet to be tentatively agreed on. We continued to discuss economic proposals and brought our lingering language proposals on Discipline and Discharge, Grievance Procedure, Non-Discrimination, Union Rights and the Management Rights coupled with it. The economic proposal on Work Materials was discussed at length and significant movement was made towards getting an agreement.

The University has failed to provide accurate salary data for months and revealed today that they do not have a streamlined system for analyzing our stipends and whether our wages fall above or below the minimum. We have been waiting for their processing of our salary information to prepare our counter proposal on Compensation. The University’s bargaining team was trying to delay bargaining to prevent us from making progress on every other article besides Compensation. They refused to move on these proposals. We made as much progress as possible without their cooperation.

We need your help to organize union members to win the raises and benefits we desperately need. If you want to learn how to get involved, join us for a steward training every Friday at 6pm! They will each be in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) followed by drinks and socializing! Please rsvp here and join us to learn or brush up on your stewarding skills so we can be as organized and united as possible as we proceed with our plan for escalation! Please note we will not have a Contract Support Committee meeting this Thursday due to fall break. 

We will also be having a Halloween party on October 28th from 6-9pm at our office at 3003 Monte Vista Blvd NE. Spook the Boss!!

We would also like to point out that several other significant union campaigns are organizing alongside us with UE! These now include Northwestern, Dartmouth, U Chicago, and John Hopkins! These add to the existing UE grad worker union locals at NMSU, MIT, Indiana, Iowa, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State.

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

September 22nd:

We have good news! UNM admin’s bargaining team made a significant move towards a collective bargaining agreement. We were given counter proposals on compensation that have significantly changed from giving a raise to only a finite amount of grad workers to giving a raise to the majority of our bargaining unit. We want to emphasize that this is the University’s direct response to members showing up on Monday and pushing back against the initial ridiculous proposals. UNM has never given a raise to anyone that the legislature did not force except for a 25 cent raise recently given to the custodial staff. Again, this is a university administration that refuses to treat their employees with respect. Which is why this win is a big deal and shows we will get a fair contract IF each of us continues to put pressure on the university by showing up to our actions and maintaining our unity.

For that reason, we are in the midst of an escalation plan this semester. Meaning, we will be having actions every few weeks this semester to continue this pressure on the university administration and build up towards larger actions as needed as we continue negotiating raises. If you would like to help us build worker power across all departments, we’ll be having recurring organizer trainings on Fridays at 6 pm at our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd NE) to teach you skills such as having one-on-one conversations with people in your department, what a grievance is, how to address it, and how to inform workers of their rights!

There were also discussions on diversity training. Our position is that the existing online training is insufficient in its scope and ineffective at preparing people for the kinds of situations they might encounter at UNM. We proposed that this training become synchronous and led by human facilitators so that it will be both more engaging and more effective at creating an inclusive campus for people of various cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, abilities and intersections of these groups of people at the University. The admin’s team responded that there is a new diversity training for 2022 which they believe is greatly improved and addresses many of our concerns. If you have taken this new training, we need your feedback on its quality and effectiveness. Please send us an email at unmgradworkers@ueunion.org with any comments or concerns regarding the 2022 employee diversity training.

The university knows that continuing to treat us unethically with low wages and benefits, with long working hours, and difficult working conditions is not sustainable and makes them look terrible. In fact, they even countered their own proposals because they want to change this perception. This displays that our pressure is working!

We feel strongly about getting the best possible contract and will be working on counter proposals that we will give to the university during our next bargaining session on October 11th.

You can still join the union if you have not already by filling out a card using this link! https://unmgrads.ueunion.org/join-us/. We have an upcoming election and want to encourage any member to be a Chief Steward or serve on the Bargaining Committee! For more info visit: https://unmgrads.ueunion.org/elections/. If you would like to run to be a part of the Bargaining Committee or to be a Chief Steward, please nominate yourself here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdBBDlB0-hBKsKI2evzklPxuOpXAn4dB1PLrCJjQ7XaRfUllQ/viewform.

Solidarity,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

September 20th:

Today’s negotiating session started with a response from UNM admin’s bargaining team on raises. They have now barely upped their counter proposal to a 4% raise on the minimum stipends. This would only affect a minuscule amount of grad workers and is not nearly enough. Our bargaining committee will continue to push for fair wages for all of us—not one hundred bucks for a few.

In addition to wage increases, our bargaining committee is attempting to fight for increased summer job security for international graduate workers who face financial hardship because they cannot work more than 0.5 FTE and cannot work outside of the University. However, the UNM administration said they are concerned about “reverse immigration discrimination” and maintain that they will not allow our union to advocate for summer funding for international graduate workers in discussions with University administrators.

We were able to make progress towards ensuring contractual language that guarantees graduate workers have access to necessary office supplies, work materials, and work space to do their jobs well. As we all know, many grad workers currently do not have adequate access to office space or needed supplies. We will continue to push for our right to technology, equipment, and coursework materials that are crucial for our work.

We received some pushback on our insurance proposals but there has been motion towards vision and dental being extended to graduate workers. These are benefits that have been given to many other workers on campus including faculty, staff, and residents and interns at UNMH, among others, but UNM admin’s proposals have yet to specify what percentage of the premiums the university would be willing to pay. We will continue to negotiate this article in hopes of providing adequate coverage for all grad workers.

We need your help to organize union members to win the raises and benefits we desperately need. If you want to learn how to get involved, join us for a steward training tomorrow (9/21) or Friday (9/23) in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) at 6pm, followed by drinks and socializing. Please join us to learn or brush up on your stewarding skills so we can be as organized and united as possible as we proceed with our plan for escalation! We will also have a special election info session during the Contract Support Committee Meeting this Thursday at 5:30pm in our office. Please join us to be a part of the conversation! You can learn more about the upcoming election here: https://unmgrads.ueunion.org/elections/. If you would like to run to be a part of the Bargaining Committee or to be a Chief Steward, please nominate yourself here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdBBDlB0-hBKsKI2evzklPxuOpXAn4dB1PLrCJjQ7XaRfUllQ/viewform.

Solidarity,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

September 19th:

Great job to everyone who came to today’s bargaining session to hear the proposals directly and respond with questions and concerns that the bargaining committee was able to ask UNM admin’s team immediately. This helps put pressure on UNM, shows them that we will not ratify an unacceptable contract, and keeps us heading towards a fair first contract for us all! You are incredible!

The day started with an egregious counter proposal on our wages. UNM proposed a 2% raise to the current minimum stipends that would only affect about 23 grad workers. They then proposed 3% raises which in total would cost UNM only $25,500. This is an insult to us all. It is clear UNM has money to spend on their administrators and we encourage you all to look up the salaries of UNM admin: https://sunshine.unm.edu/salary-book/salary-by-employee-name.html 

Additionally, in today’s session, the UNM admin’s bargaining team was unable to explain how many people this proposal would affect or how much this would cost the University. This shows a severe lack of willingness to put thought or work into their proposals on top of their complacency with inequality and discrimination on our campus.

We asked UNM’s team several questions that came from our general membership during our caucus. In particular, we asked UNM’s negotiators if they realized that their first counterproposal, which included no dental or vision, and a miniscule increase to the minimum stipends, was discriminatory towards minoritized graduate workers, including BIPOC, international, and parent workers. UNM’s team seemed baffled by this question, stating that they didn’t feel like their proposal was discriminatory and suggested that we should consider taking out loans if we can’t afford to live and have no familial wealth or support. This is absolutely ridiculous. It is clear that UNM does not consider financial barriers to education that they need to address and would rather continue with the status quo, which favors white middle to upper class students. 

UNM’s bargaining team even proposed the deletion of several of our articles including our article on International Student Fee Reimbursement. UNM does not want to reimburse SEVIS fees, which is a portion of the expenses incurred by international graduate students during the visa application process to come to UNM for their graduate program and assistantships. The UNM admin’s bargaining team also refuses to include paid time off or bereavement leave in the contract. Their reasoning is that other employees at the university do not receive this and they are determined to oppose improving the lives of their employees, which continues to be disgraceful. 

We need your help to organize union members to win the raises and benefits we desperately need. If you want to learn how to get involved, join us for a steward training this Wednesday (9/21) or Friday (9/23) in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) at 6pm, followed by drinks and socializing. Please join us to learn or brush up on your stewarding skills so we can be as organized and united as possible as we proceed with our plan for escalation! We will also have a special election info session during the Contract Support Committee Meeting this Thursday at 5:30pm in our office. Join us if you are interested in learning about our upcoming election or if you want to run for a position!

Solidarity,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

If you would like to run to be a part of the Bargaining Committee or to be a Chief Steward, please nominate yourself here (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdBBDlB0-hBKsKI2evzklPxuOpXAn4dB1PLrCJjQ7XaRfUllQ/viewform)


September 1st Bargaining Highlights: 

  • Tentative agreement on Assistantship Contract article
  • UNM’s team was condescending about nondiscrimination language and Title IX
  • UNM was unprepared and unprofessional in their response on other issues
  • Important bargaining dates on Sept. 19, 20, 22 – mark your calendars!
  • Upcoming events:
    • Thursday, Sept 1 (3003 Monte Vista Blvd)
      • Coordinating Committing Meeting at 4:30pm
      • Contract Support Committee at 5:30pm
    • Friday, Sept 2
      • Welcome Back Social at Juno Brewery 7pm (t-shirts and drink discounts!)

Today we bargained against a smaller group from UNM as the university’s lawyer, Dina Holcomb was not in attendance. We were also joined by a new university representative,  Professor Mark Stone from the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. As the union was not notified that Ms. Holcomb would not be there, we began later than expected and UNM’s negotiating team seemed unprepared.  

We came to a tentative agreement on the Assistantship Contract article. This is significant because the agreed-upon language will require our employer to provide all this information in our contracts:

  • Type of assistantship
  • Appointment percentage
  • Stipend or hourly rate
  • Dates of assistantship including start and end date
  • Department
  • Tentative supervisor
  • A general description of the duties expected
  • Assigned course, lab, or research project if applicable and known
  • Required coursework, if any
  • Tuition and fee benefit, if any
  • Health insurance benefits, if applicable
  • Required training applicable to the assistantship
  • Amount of time allowed to accept the assistantship

This is in comparison to the barely there contract language that we have historically received. Another part of this agreement was the stipulation that grad workers will not be required to perform personal errands for the supervisor. This comes from the many instances of inappropriate asks from advisors that you all shared with us!

Unfortunately, the assistantship contract article was the only productive thing to come out of this bargaining session. We are still working on articles pertaining to the grievance procedure, discipline and discharge, union rights, and management rights, as well as the shameful lack of acceptance of our proposed nondiscrimination language. When we revisited the nondiscrimination language today, UNM’s team was condescending as they continued to describe Title IX policies as the only exclusive remedy for sexual harassment on campus. When we mentioned that many graduate workers report to Title IX and never hear anything back, UNM’s team continued to explain to us that third-party reporters are not notified about Title IX proceedings after the report is made, insinuating that graduate workers are not themselves victims of sexual and gender harassment on campus with first-hand experience reporting to Title IX. All our members found this deeply offensive, especially given that our team consisted of 7 women and 1 man, while UNM’s team today consisted of 3 men. 

When discussing union rights, UNM said they won’t consider changing what they designate as directory information in order to allow the union access to essential information about our bargaining unit. UNM is taking the (completely ridiculous) position that the only way the union can access this information is by having every single bargaining unit member (over 1,600 people) fill out and submit a FERPA waiver every time they have an assistantship (these are the emails you may have received over the last month). Instead of spending all of their time, energy, and resources sending out and processing individual waivers, the University could choose to simply designate the info we require as “directory information” and provide it to the union. However, they stated they are refusing to consider this far more efficient option. We pointed out that the University does not ask our consent to share our personal contact info with military recruiters. Over the last several months, UNM has repeatedly sent us several different lists that don’t even contain basic contact information, making it exceedingly difficult for us to inform new graduate workers of contract negotiations that affect their lives and further undermining trust between the union and the university. 

UNM is going to continue to put up a fight to make sure we don’t disrupt their status quo, which means giving workers bad contract language. However, UGW-UE 1466 has never been interested in this status quo. That’s why we need all of you to plug in to our next couple of meetings! Our next coordinating committee meeting is open to general membership and will be held on Sept. 1 at 4:30pm, followed by the contract support committee meeting at 5:30pm (location: 3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE or by zoom, email ajbock@unm.edu for link). We have some very important bargaining dates coming up on September 19th, 20th, and 22nd and need the full strength of our union behind us as we head into negotiations. 

Lastly, join us on Sept. 2, 7pm at Juno Brewery for our Welcome Back Social! All union members will get 20% off their drinks! We will also have a new union T-shirt available for those who sign up for voluntary recurring dues. Don’t miss out!

In solidarity, 

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

P.S. Elections are coming up! Do you want to be part of the bargaining committee or to be a chief steward? Consider running! Would you like to be part of the elections committee that helps to ensure a fair and well run election? Let Ramona Malczynski (rmalcz@unm.edu) know!

July 15th, 2022: In today’s bargaining session, we discussed the Grievance Procedure, Union Rights, Discipline and Discharge, and Assistantship Contracts. We exchanged counter proposals on each of these articles and more progress has been made on these articles due to our united strength. An example of this is their movement on dues deductions—a normal but important union right that they had refused to include before yesterday’s picket. Unfortunately, UNM’s bargaining team still refuses to acknowledge that withholding an assistantship for a future semester is a form of discharge. We know grad workers are often guaranteed future assistantships, formally and informally, that we plan our lives around. It is crucial that our contract protects workers from this form of termination, as it causes financial insecurity and is often used as a form of retaliation. However, UNM’s bargaining team continues to deny accountability over this issue by arguing it does not constitute a form of discharge that grad workers are protected from in their contract. This is incredibly obtuse, but we will fight to include this definition of discharge in our contract. Our bargaining committee reiterated the importance for a strong non-discrimination article for our members yet, the University’s legal team has not budged on this significant part of the contract. As a collective, it is imperative that we have the ability to protect each of our members. We must continue to push for a strong non-discrimination article and will be planning an action at the start of the Fall semester to put further pressure on UNM’s bargaining team.

In order to build our organizing momentum and plan future actions, we will be holding Contract Support Committee meetings every Thursday at 5:30pm, where we will do task-based work such as phone-banking, social mapping, and action organizing. Our only exception will be the third Thursday of every month which is reserved for General Membership Meetings (GMM), where we will share updates, make announcements, and, if necessary, vote on any motions brought forth. Our next GMM is next Thursday, July 21 at 5:30pm. Please join us as we gear up for upcoming actions, discuss our new office space, and plan for a special election in the Fall semester. If you are interested in helping plan the GMM, please contact Alana Bock at ajbock@unm.edu

Check out the Daily Lobo’s coverage of our picket for stronger non-discrimination protections.


July, 14th 2022: Thank you to everyone who came out to the picket today to show UNM’s negotiating team that graduate workers won’t stand their shameful attempts to resist strong non-discrimination language in our first union contract. At 8am on a Thursday in the hot summer morning, more than 50 UGW members and supporters picketed for over an hour. The University definitely heard us – they had to walk through a crowd of grad workers just to start negotiations. 

At the bargaining table, UNM’s negotiating team called our picket “inappropriate,” but we know that their resistance to a strong non-discrimination article is what is truly inappropriate. Today, we highlighted the hundreds of stories of discrimination and harassment that have been shared with us from our own members to make clear that stronger protections are absolutely NEEDED in our contract. It is horrendous that UNM, a Hispanic-serving and Minority-serving institution, can tell us that they care about their workers while simultaneously refusing to give us a standard non-discrimination article that would ensure grad workers are better protected. It’s time for UNM’s negotiating team to stop stalling because we will not settle for the status quo.  

We fortunately made progress regarding articles on Employee Contracts, and Discipline and Discharge, and feel confident that we are reaching a tentative agreement on these articles. This is undoubtedly due to our show of power this morning at the picket. UNM and the public cannot ignore us, especially when we come together as a strong collective force.  

As we continue to push for our first contract, we are sharing our stories online to our virtual bulletin board. Our union is stronger with every single member’s support. Add your name here in support of fighting for a contract that improves our lives and strengthens our University. Check out this press coverage of our picket this morning! It was a huge success and actions like it will help show a united front as we continue our negotiations. ​​


June 24th, 2022: The grievance procedure is slowly taking shape; we’re approaching a consensus on the basic structure of this vital component of our first contract, but we still have some issues relating to the necessary timeline of each step. Both sides are committed to having a procedure which provides resolution of conflict in a timely fashion, while still providing a thorough channel for these resolutions.

We are still meeting unnecessary and shameful resistance on our non-discrimination language; in contracts across the country, workers are guaranteed a right to a grievable non-discrimination statement. While we have spent the weeks between bargaining sessions researching how this is reflected in other graduate worker union contracts, it seems the administration has not done their research and is still convinced that it is not a right we ought to have. It is clear that the systems in place are not protecting our most vulnerable bargaining unit members; for example, our international students are being exploited and discriminated against with little to no recourse available. We are not backing down from this issue, and we plan to fight for our right to a non-discrimination article both in and outside the bargaining room.

We made some good faith movements in our counter proposals regarding employee contracts to accommodate UNM’s concerns about needing last minute adjustments to assistantship offers. We were successful in getting the UNM bargaining team to agree that personal errands for a supervisor/advisor should not be a part of a graduate worker’s duties, given the precarious positions that graduate workers face. However, it was evident in their counter proposal that their proposed language was just to save face and not actually to protect graduate workers from difficult circumstances. We are not backing down from our position of needing timely contracts that detail our work duties in a clear and reasonable manner.

While our team and UNM’s team seem to agree that graduate workers have precarious positions and are easily exploited, our approaches to solving this issue seem to drastically diverge. UNM’s negotiating team seems to be promoting and perpetuating a culture of distrust between graduate workers and their advisors, supervisors, departments, and other governing bodies on campus. By suggesting that we should not plan our lives around our assistantships, for example, UNM’s team is also suggesting that we should no longer trust our advisors and supervisors when they assure us of continued work in future semesters. Further, though UNM included language specifying that personal errands should not be considered work duties, they continue to offer limited language on work duty descriptions, suggesting that UNM is more interested in protecting the University from the worst case scenario rather than making the lives of graduate workers easier. This is egregious, and we hope that UNM will take our next bargaining sessions more seriously and commit themselves to fostering a safer and healthier working environment for graduate workers, rather than one of distrust and paranoia. 

June 23, 2022: Today we met with UNM’s negotiating team for another bargaining session. We continued discussions regarding AGREEMENT, NON-DISCRIMINATION, EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS, DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE, and GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE articles. We came to a tentative agreement on the AGREEMENT article, which states that the contract we negotiate will be agreed upon between the University of New Mexico and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. 

We had a positive and productive discussion on why we need more detailed and expansive language around EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS. Our bargaining team has proposed language that our contracts must include things such as position descriptions, lists of duties, approximate distribution of hours per duty, as well as requiring appointment and reappointment letters in advance. We look forward to coming to an agreement with UNM’s team regarding this issue, as we believe it would benefit everyone. 

However, we were deeply disappointed at the UNM team’s belief that the non-renewal of an assistantship does not constitute a termination of employment and can therefore serve as a form of discipline. Our bargaining committee noted that many graduate workers are told, formally and informally, that they’ll have contracts in the future only to have such guarantees revoked. This is a difficult situation for anyone, as many of us plan our lives and livelihoods around our assistantship. To this, UNM’s team stated that we “shouldn’t plan our lives” around guarantees of future assistantships. This was incredibly insulting and out of touch with the reality of many graduate workers who have no other sources of income, have families to support, lack savings or familial wealth, etc. 

With regards to our NON-DISCRIMINATION article, UNM’s team has not made any movement from their previous counterpropsal, standing firm in their belief that we should not be allowed to seek grievance in cases of NON-DISCRIMINATION. This is frustrating as our team has tried to make good faith movement on the issue. We plan to keep fighting for a grievable NON-DISCRIMINATION article that protects us all. If you want to share your experiences with discrimination at UNM, you can share them anonymously on our new virtual bulletin board!


May 6th, 2022: Today we discussed Articles on NON-DISCRIMINATION, HEALTH AND SAFETY, UNION RIGHTS, GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE, EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS, and DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE.

The tone from UNM’s negotiating team was more contentious today. Their stance on the articles we discussed were concerning for several reasons. On the issue of DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE, they do not view renewing contracts as a form of retaliation, disciplining or discharge. On the issue of EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS, they did not consider any of the additional language we offered and instead offered the bare minimum, which is in fact less than what is typically included in most departments’ contracts. On the issue of UNION RIGHTS, the UNM administration’s negotiation team put forth a counterproposal that eliminates the right to have dues deducted from employees’ paychecks–a right of unions across the country.

We are especially disturbed that they are unwilling to move on creating a NON-DISCRIMINATION article that is grievable. It is important that our members feel protected by the union contract and have a process that allows grad workers to file a grievance if they are discriminated against on the basis of race, age, gender, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, United States military veteran’s status or disability. The UNM negotating team’s stance is that current Federal and State laws protect these categories and that the current structures in place, such OEO, that deal with discrimination claims are sufficient. As recent events show, the protection of these categories under Federal and State law are not stable and institutions such OEO do not work adequately. We believe we need a grievable non-discrimination article in our contract–to protect all of us, especially the most vulnerable. Our language that we have proposed is standard practice and has been included in contracts for graduate workers and other employees throughout the country and locally in the state of New Mexico.


May 5th, 2022: We have concluded the second day of our bargaining sessions! Today, we were given counter proposals, amended those counters, and further discussed our proposed articles and language introduced yesterday during our first session. We met with the administration’s committee from 9am until 5pm and will do the same tomorrow for our third bargaining session. 

Some articles have already been agreed upon by both our union and the UNM administration’s committee. They include tentative agreements on: RECOGNITION, DUTY TO COOPERATE, and SEVERABILITY. The RECOGNITION article details that the union is the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for us as grad workers. In the DUTY TO COOPERATE article, we have come to an agreement with the administration’s committee to cooperate with each other and create a respectful environment. Lastly, the SEVERABILITY article means this clause in our contract allows certain parts to remain in effect even if others are illegal or unenforceable. This is a huge win for us and proves that we are on the road to our first contract! 

During the negotiations, our bargaining team provided many thorough examples of our colleagues’ experiences to illustrate the need for protections and improved working conditions. These included measures to ensure safer working conditions and clearer scopes of work outlined in contracts. Our discussions were productive and resulted in progress towards more tentative agreements.


May 4th, 2022: Today was our first day of contract negotiations! It is thanks to each and every one of you that we were able to make it to this monumental day. This is just the beginning, and we have a difficult journey ahead, but with the continued support and engagement of our members, we know we will get a strong first contract! Shout out especially to everyone who wore a sticker today and/or who helped distribute stickers. Because of you, we made our presence on campus known – UNM knows we have the full support and solidarity of our community behind us. If you haven’t joined our union, you can do so here! Join and have a voice in our future contract negotiations.

Our first bargaining session was short (2-4pm), but we were able to get through introductions, went over ground rules, presented our first set of language proposals, and each of your bargaining committee members gave opening statements. The opening statements were powerful, each touching on a different set of priorities that you, our membership, voted on. Issues such as higher stipends, funding security, parking, dental, and timely delivery of contracts were touched on. Some highlights include:

“While working at UNM I have witnessed ample suffering caused by the inadequate wages and protections graduate employees experience. Graduate employees here simply do not have enough money to eat, stay healthy, and afford decent housing. As a result, many don’t have the time or finances to solve the problems they experience due to inadequate grievance procedures and contract security. I choose to exacerbate my own difficult situation to work with my colleagues for a fair contract because I am deeply troubled, not only by the suffering of grad workers, but also by the systematic way that suffering is distributed at our institution.”

“I found the university systems and processes to be unfriendly, uncooperative, un-navigable and deeply rooted in institutional wide disparities towards low-income students and students of color, graduate workers, and all workers for that matter. These disparities promote academic standards and professional expectations aimed at serving a privileged few in disregard for equity.” 

“We all feel exploited and we are tired of it. Graduate workers at UNM deserve to be paid a living wage and given proper health care. We deserve safety in our workplaces and the materials required to perform our duties. We need a fair grievance process, one that protects victims rather than one that shelters harassers and perpetuates cycles of abuse.”

We also set a number of other dates throughout the summer to bargaining:

June 23-24, 9am-5pm, July 13-15, 9am-5pm, August 11-12, 9am-5pm, August 29, 9am-5pm, August 31, 9am-5pm

The UNM negotiating committee was amicable and we hope negotiations continue in this way. We look forward to beginning good faith negotiations and believe these issues are ones that both parties agree need to be addressed. 

October 13th:

Today, we received a proposal from UNM’s team on Training and Professionalization, and gave a proposal on Paid Medical Leave. We have progressed on the latter and are anticipating reaching an agreement that ensures all graduate workers have a clear communication on and ways of tracking their rights to take time off.

Furthermore, we made significant movement on our Compensation proposal, adjusting our proposed stipend minimums and across the board raises to reflect the major movement in UNM’s last proposal on compensation. We used the information UNM provided yesterday and have given UNM’s bargaining team a counter proposal of a 25% raise on the minimum and a following 7.5% increase for every grad worker. Our team argued the importance of raising our stipend minimums because, though many graduate workers make more than these minimums, it is important that we raise the bar so that no one is forced to live off a stipend that has not significantly changed in the last 10 years. When presenting our counters, we highlighted that our peer institutions offer stipends that are significantly more than those at UNM. Further, we reiterated the drastic rise in the cost of housing, food, and other living expenses in Albuquerque. We continue to firmly believe that, by paying educators and researchers a living wage, the quality of teaching and research at UNM will greatly improve. We look forward to receiving UNM’s counter proposal on Compensation, which we are hopeful will move us closer to an agreement that will benefit all our members as soon as possible. 

In order to make this university a better place for everyone, grad workers need to be properly compensated. We must continue to put pressure on the university as we bargain our contract. Each of us needs to help do this by organizing to win the raises and benefits we desperately need. If you want to learn how to get involved, join us for a steward training every Friday at 6pm! They will each be in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) followed by drinks and socializing! Please rsvp here and join us to learn or brush up on your stewarding skills so we can be as organized and united as possible as we proceed with our plan for escalation! Please note we will not have a Contract Support Committee meeting this Thursday (today) due to fall break.

We will be having a Halloween party on October 28th from 6-9pm at our office at 3003 Monte Vista Blvd NE. Spook the Boss!

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

October 12th:

We made significant movement on Work Materials as well as the article on Training and Professional Development. We have officially reached a Tentative Agreement on the Work Material Article! This achievement ensures graduate workers have access to necessary office space, supplies, reimbursement procedures, and applicable work-related travel expenses! This article allows our members to be better equipped to do their jobs and have access to resources that are essential to perform work duties. 

We are close to reaching an agreement on Training and Professional Development as well. Graduate workers care deeply about the education we provide undergraduate students, and we believe that the university should provide training that allows us to make our classes and research accessible to all. Unfortunately, the university’s bargaining team tried to put the burden of such training on graduate workers, arguing that we should seek trainings ourselves through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), rather than creating a centralized training for all graduate workers. While we believe that CTL is an amazing resource, many graduate workers are unaware they have access to it. We have made progress towards creating channels to better communicate pedagogical training already offered at UNM to all graduate workers on a regular and consistent basis. In conjunction with this proposal, we have also received a new proposal from the university’s bargaining team detailing a Labor-Management Committee.

Lastly, we have finally obtained information about our stipends. This means we can begin to analyze this data to provide counters on Compensation and Paid Time Off tomorrow. 

We need your help to organize union members to win the raises and benefits we desperately need. If you want to learn how to get involved, join us for a steward training every Friday at 6pm! They will each be in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) followed by drinks and socializing! Please rsvp here and join us to learn or brush up on your stewarding skills so we can be as organized and united as possible as we proceed with our plan for escalation! Please note we will not have a Contract Support Committee meeting this Thursday due to fall break. 

We will also be having a Halloween party on October 28th from 6-9pm at our office at 3003 Monte Vista Blvd NE. Spook the Boss!

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

October 11th:

We discussed every proposal that has yet to be tentatively agreed on. We continued to discuss economic proposals and brought our lingering language proposals on Discipline and Discharge, Grievance Procedure, Non-Discrimination, Union Rights and the Management Rights coupled with it. The economic proposal on Work Materials was discussed at length and significant movement was made towards getting an agreement.

The University has failed to provide accurate salary data for months and revealed today that they do not have a streamlined system for analyzing our stipends and whether our wages fall above or below the minimum. We have been waiting for their processing of our salary information to prepare our counter proposal on Compensation. The University’s bargaining team was trying to delay bargaining to prevent us from making progress on every other article besides Compensation. They refused to move on these proposals. We made as much progress as possible without their cooperation.

We need your help to organize union members to win the raises and benefits we desperately need. If you want to learn how to get involved, join us for a steward training every Friday at 6pm! They will each be in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) followed by drinks and socializing! Please rsvp here and join us to learn or brush up on your stewarding skills so we can be as organized and united as possible as we proceed with our plan for escalation! Please note we will not have a Contract Support Committee meeting this Thursday due to fall break. 

We will also be having a Halloween party on October 28th from 6-9pm at our office at 3003 Monte Vista Blvd NE. Spook the Boss!!

We would also like to point out that several other significant union campaigns are organizing alongside us with UE! These now include Northwestern, Dartmouth, U Chicago, and John Hopkins! These add to the existing UE grad worker union locals at NMSU, MIT, Indiana, Iowa, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State.

Solidarity forever,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

September 22nd:

We have good news! UNM admin’s bargaining team made a significant move towards a collective bargaining agreement. We were given counter proposals on compensation that have significantly changed from giving a raise to only a finite amount of grad workers to giving a raise to the majority of our bargaining unit. We want to emphasize that this is the University’s direct response to members showing up on Monday and pushing back against the initial ridiculous proposals. UNM has never given a raise to anyone that the legislature did not force except for a 25 cent raise recently given to the custodial staff. Again, this is a university administration that refuses to treat their employees with respect. Which is why this win is a big deal and shows we will get a fair contract IF each of us continues to put pressure on the university by showing up to our actions and maintaining our unity.

For that reason, we are in the midst of an escalation plan this semester. Meaning, we will be having actions every few weeks this semester to continue this pressure on the university administration and build up towards larger actions as needed as we continue negotiating raises. If you would like to help us build worker power across all departments, we’ll be having recurring organizer trainings on Fridays at 6 pm at our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd NE) to teach you skills such as having one-on-one conversations with people in your department, what a grievance is, how to address it, and how to inform workers of their rights!

There were also discussions on diversity training. Our position is that the existing online training is insufficient in its scope and ineffective at preparing people for the kinds of situations they might encounter at UNM. We proposed that this training become synchronous and led by human facilitators so that it will be both more engaging and more effective at creating an inclusive campus for people of various cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, abilities and intersections of these groups of people at the University. The admin’s team responded that there is a new diversity training for 2022 which they believe is greatly improved and addresses many of our concerns. If you have taken this new training, we need your feedback on its quality and effectiveness. Please send us an email at unmgradworkers@ueunion.org with any comments or concerns regarding the 2022 employee diversity training.

The university knows that continuing to treat us unethically with low wages and benefits, with long working hours, and difficult working conditions is not sustainable and makes them look terrible. In fact, they even countered their own proposals because they want to change this perception. This displays that our pressure is working!

We feel strongly about getting the best possible contract and will be working on counter proposals that we will give to the university during our next bargaining session on October 11th.

You can still join the union if you have not already by filling out a card using this link! https://unmgrads.ueunion.org/join-us/. We have an upcoming election and want to encourage any member to be a Chief Steward or serve on the Bargaining Committee! For more info visit: https://unmgrads.ueunion.org/elections/. If you would like to run to be a part of the Bargaining Committee or to be a Chief Steward, please nominate yourself here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdBBDlB0-hBKsKI2evzklPxuOpXAn4dB1PLrCJjQ7XaRfUllQ/viewform.

Solidarity,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

September 20th:

Today’s negotiating session started with a response from UNM admin’s bargaining team on raises. They have now barely upped their counter proposal to a 4% raise on the minimum stipends. This would only affect a minuscule amount of grad workers and is not nearly enough. Our bargaining committee will continue to push for fair wages for all of us—not one hundred bucks for a few.

In addition to wage increases, our bargaining committee is attempting to fight for increased summer job security for international graduate workers who face financial hardship because they cannot work more than 0.5 FTE and cannot work outside of the University. However, the UNM administration said they are concerned about “reverse immigration discrimination” and maintain that they will not allow our union to advocate for summer funding for international graduate workers in discussions with University administrators.

We were able to make progress towards ensuring contractual language that guarantees graduate workers have access to necessary office supplies, work materials, and work space to do their jobs well. As we all know, many grad workers currently do not have adequate access to office space or needed supplies. We will continue to push for our right to technology, equipment, and coursework materials that are crucial for our work.

We received some pushback on our insurance proposals but there has been motion towards vision and dental being extended to graduate workers. These are benefits that have been given to many other workers on campus including faculty, staff, and residents and interns at UNMH, among others, but UNM admin’s proposals have yet to specify what percentage of the premiums the university would be willing to pay. We will continue to negotiate this article in hopes of providing adequate coverage for all grad workers.

We need your help to organize union members to win the raises and benefits we desperately need. If you want to learn how to get involved, join us for a steward training tomorrow (9/21) or Friday (9/23) in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) at 6pm, followed by drinks and socializing. Please join us to learn or brush up on your stewarding skills so we can be as organized and united as possible as we proceed with our plan for escalation! We will also have a special election info session during the Contract Support Committee Meeting this Thursday at 5:30pm in our office. Please join us to be a part of the conversation! You can learn more about the upcoming election here: https://unmgrads.ueunion.org/elections/. If you would like to run to be a part of the Bargaining Committee or to be a Chief Steward, please nominate yourself here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdBBDlB0-hBKsKI2evzklPxuOpXAn4dB1PLrCJjQ7XaRfUllQ/viewform.

Solidarity,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

September 19th:

Great job to everyone who came to today’s bargaining session to hear the proposals directly and respond with questions and concerns that the bargaining committee was able to ask UNM admin’s team immediately. This helps put pressure on UNM, shows them that we will not ratify an unacceptable contract, and keeps us heading towards a fair first contract for us all! You are incredible!

The day started with an egregious counter proposal on our wages. UNM proposed a 2% raise to the current minimum stipends that would only affect about 23 grad workers. They then proposed 3% raises which in total would cost UNM only $25,500. This is an insult to us all. It is clear UNM has money to spend on their administrators and we encourage you all to look up the salaries of UNM admin: https://sunshine.unm.edu/salary-book/salary-by-employee-name.html 

Additionally, in today’s session, the UNM admin’s bargaining team was unable to explain how many people this proposal would affect or how much this would cost the University. This shows a severe lack of willingness to put thought or work into their proposals on top of their complacency with inequality and discrimination on our campus.

We asked UNM’s team several questions that came from our general membership during our caucus. In particular, we asked UNM’s negotiators if they realized that their first counterproposal, which included no dental or vision, and a miniscule increase to the minimum stipends, was discriminatory towards minoritized graduate workers, including BIPOC, international, and parent workers. UNM’s team seemed baffled by this question, stating that they didn’t feel like their proposal was discriminatory and suggested that we should consider taking out loans if we can’t afford to live and have no familial wealth or support. This is absolutely ridiculous. It is clear that UNM does not consider financial barriers to education that they need to address and would rather continue with the status quo, which favors white middle to upper class students. 

UNM’s bargaining team even proposed the deletion of several of our articles including our article on International Student Fee Reimbursement. UNM does not want to reimburse SEVIS fees, which is a portion of the expenses incurred by international graduate students during the visa application process to come to UNM for their graduate program and assistantships. The UNM admin’s bargaining team also refuses to include paid time off or bereavement leave in the contract. Their reasoning is that other employees at the university do not receive this and they are determined to oppose improving the lives of their employees, which continues to be disgraceful. 

We need your help to organize union members to win the raises and benefits we desperately need. If you want to learn how to get involved, join us for a steward training this Wednesday (9/21) or Friday (9/23) in our office (3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) at 6pm, followed by drinks and socializing. Please join us to learn or brush up on your stewarding skills so we can be as organized and united as possible as we proceed with our plan for escalation! We will also have a special election info session during the Contract Support Committee Meeting this Thursday at 5:30pm in our office. Join us if you are interested in learning about our upcoming election or if you want to run for a position!

Solidarity,

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

If you would like to run to be a part of the Bargaining Committee or to be a Chief Steward, please nominate yourself here (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdBBDlB0-hBKsKI2evzklPxuOpXAn4dB1PLrCJjQ7XaRfUllQ/viewform)


September 1st Bargaining Highlights: 

  • Tentative agreement on Assistantship Contract article
  • UNM’s team was condescending about nondiscrimination language and Title IX
  • UNM was unprepared and unprofessional in their response on other issues
  • Important bargaining dates on Sept. 19, 20, 22 – mark your calendars!
  • Upcoming events:
    • Thursday, Sept 1 (3003 Monte Vista Blvd)
      • Coordinating Committing Meeting at 4:30pm
      • Contract Support Committee at 5:30pm
    • Friday, Sept 2
      • Welcome Back Social at Juno Brewery 7pm (t-shirts and drink discounts!)

Today we bargained against a smaller group from UNM as the university’s lawyer, Dina Holcomb was not in attendance. We were also joined by a new university representative,  Professor Mark Stone from the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. As the union was not notified that Ms. Holcomb would not be there, we began later than expected and UNM’s negotiating team seemed unprepared.  

We came to a tentative agreement on the Assistantship Contract article. This is significant because the agreed-upon language will require our employer to provide all this information in our contracts:

  • Type of assistantship
  • Appointment percentage
  • Stipend or hourly rate
  • Dates of assistantship including start and end date
  • Department
  • Tentative supervisor
  • A general description of the duties expected
  • Assigned course, lab, or research project if applicable and known
  • Required coursework, if any
  • Tuition and fee benefit, if any
  • Health insurance benefits, if applicable
  • Required training applicable to the assistantship
  • Amount of time allowed to accept the assistantship

This is in comparison to the barely there contract language that we have historically received. Another part of this agreement was the stipulation that grad workers will not be required to perform personal errands for the supervisor. This comes from the many instances of inappropriate asks from advisors that you all shared with us!

Unfortunately, the assistantship contract article was the only productive thing to come out of this bargaining session. We are still working on articles pertaining to the grievance procedure, discipline and discharge, union rights, and management rights, as well as the shameful lack of acceptance of our proposed nondiscrimination language. When we revisited the nondiscrimination language today, UNM’s team was condescending as they continued to describe Title IX policies as the only exclusive remedy for sexual harassment on campus. When we mentioned that many graduate workers report to Title IX and never hear anything back, UNM’s team continued to explain to us that third-party reporters are not notified about Title IX proceedings after the report is made, insinuating that graduate workers are not themselves victims of sexual and gender harassment on campus with first-hand experience reporting to Title IX. All our members found this deeply offensive, especially given that our team consisted of 7 women and 1 man, while UNM’s team today consisted of 3 men. 

When discussing union rights, UNM said they won’t consider changing what they designate as directory information in order to allow the union access to essential information about our bargaining unit. UNM is taking the (completely ridiculous) position that the only way the union can access this information is by having every single bargaining unit member (over 1,600 people) fill out and submit a FERPA waiver every time they have an assistantship (these are the emails you may have received over the last month). Instead of spending all of their time, energy, and resources sending out and processing individual waivers, the University could choose to simply designate the info we require as “directory information” and provide it to the union. However, they stated they are refusing to consider this far more efficient option. We pointed out that the University does not ask our consent to share our personal contact info with military recruiters. Over the last several months, UNM has repeatedly sent us several different lists that don’t even contain basic contact information, making it exceedingly difficult for us to inform new graduate workers of contract negotiations that affect their lives and further undermining trust between the union and the university. 

UNM is going to continue to put up a fight to make sure we don’t disrupt their status quo, which means giving workers bad contract language. However, UGW-UE 1466 has never been interested in this status quo. That’s why we need all of you to plug in to our next couple of meetings! Our next coordinating committee meeting is open to general membership and will be held on Sept. 1 at 4:30pm, followed by the contract support committee meeting at 5:30pm (location: 3003 Monte Vista Blvd. NE or by zoom, email ajbock@unm.edu for link). We have some very important bargaining dates coming up on September 19th, 20th, and 22nd and need the full strength of our union behind us as we head into negotiations. 

Lastly, join us on Sept. 2, 7pm at Juno Brewery for our Welcome Back Social! All union members will get 20% off their drinks! We will also have a new union T-shirt available for those who sign up for voluntary recurring dues. Don’t miss out!

In solidarity, 

UGW-UE 1466 Bargaining Committee

P.S. Elections are coming up! Do you want to be part of the bargaining committee or to be a chief steward? Consider running! Would you like to be part of the elections committee that helps to ensure a fair and well run election? Let Ramona Malczynski (rmalcz@unm.edu) know!

July 15th, 2022: In today’s bargaining session, we discussed the Grievance Procedure, Union Rights, Discipline and Discharge, and Assistantship Contracts. We exchanged counter proposals on each of these articles and more progress has been made on these articles due to our united strength. An example of this is their movement on dues deductions—a normal but important union right that they had refused to include before yesterday’s picket. Unfortunately, UNM’s bargaining team still refuses to acknowledge that withholding an assistantship for a future semester is a form of discharge. We know grad workers are often guaranteed future assistantships, formally and informally, that we plan our lives around. It is crucial that our contract protects workers from this form of termination, as it causes financial insecurity and is often used as a form of retaliation. However, UNM’s bargaining team continues to deny accountability over this issue by arguing it does not constitute a form of discharge that grad workers are protected from in their contract. This is incredibly obtuse, but we will fight to include this definition of discharge in our contract. Our bargaining committee reiterated the importance for a strong non-discrimination article for our members yet, the University’s legal team has not budged on this significant part of the contract. As a collective, it is imperative that we have the ability to protect each of our members. We must continue to push for a strong non-discrimination article and will be planning an action at the start of the Fall semester to put further pressure on UNM’s bargaining team.

In order to build our organizing momentum and plan future actions, we will be holding Contract Support Committee meetings every Thursday at 5:30pm, where we will do task-based work such as phone-banking, social mapping, and action organizing. Our only exception will be the third Thursday of every month which is reserved for General Membership Meetings (GMM), where we will share updates, make announcements, and, if necessary, vote on any motions brought forth. Our next GMM is next Thursday, July 21 at 5:30pm. Please join us as we gear up for upcoming actions, discuss our new office space, and plan for a special election in the Fall semester. If you are interested in helping plan the GMM, please contact Alana Bock at ajbock@unm.edu

Check out the Daily Lobo’s coverage of our picket for stronger non-discrimination protections.


July, 14th 2022: Thank you to everyone who came out to the picket today to show UNM’s negotiating team that graduate workers won’t stand their shameful attempts to resist strong non-discrimination language in our first union contract. At 8am on a Thursday in the hot summer morning, more than 50 UGW members and supporters picketed for over an hour. The University definitely heard us – they had to walk through a crowd of grad workers just to start negotiations. 

At the bargaining table, UNM’s negotiating team called our picket “inappropriate,” but we know that their resistance to a strong non-discrimination article is what is truly inappropriate. Today, we highlighted the hundreds of stories of discrimination and harassment that have been shared with us from our own members to make clear that stronger protections are absolutely NEEDED in our contract. It is horrendous that UNM, a Hispanic-serving and Minority-serving institution, can tell us that they care about their workers while simultaneously refusing to give us a standard non-discrimination article that would ensure grad workers are better protected. It’s time for UNM’s negotiating team to stop stalling because we will not settle for the status quo.  

We fortunately made progress regarding articles on Employee Contracts, and Discipline and Discharge, and feel confident that we are reaching a tentative agreement on these articles. This is undoubtedly due to our show of power this morning at the picket. UNM and the public cannot ignore us, especially when we come together as a strong collective force.  

As we continue to push for our first contract, we are sharing our stories online to our virtual bulletin board. Our union is stronger with every single member’s support. Add your name here in support of fighting for a contract that improves our lives and strengthens our University. Check out this press coverage of our picket this morning! It was a huge success and actions like it will help show a united front as we continue our negotiations. ​​


June 24th, 2022: The grievance procedure is slowly taking shape; we’re approaching a consensus on the basic structure of this vital component of our first contract, but we still have some issues relating to the necessary timeline of each step. Both sides are committed to having a procedure which provides resolution of conflict in a timely fashion, while still providing a thorough channel for these resolutions.

We are still meeting unnecessary and shameful resistance on our non-discrimination language; in contracts across the country, workers are guaranteed a right to a grievable non-discrimination statement. While we have spent the weeks between bargaining sessions researching how this is reflected in other graduate worker union contracts, it seems the administration has not done their research and is still convinced that it is not a right we ought to have. It is clear that the systems in place are not protecting our most vulnerable bargaining unit members; for example, our international students are being exploited and discriminated against with little to no recourse available. We are not backing down from this issue, and we plan to fight for our right to a non-discrimination article both in and outside the bargaining room.

We made some good faith movements in our counter proposals regarding employee contracts to accommodate UNM’s concerns about needing last minute adjustments to assistantship offers. We were successful in getting the UNM bargaining team to agree that personal errands for a supervisor/advisor should not be a part of a graduate worker’s duties, given the precarious positions that graduate workers face. However, it was evident in their counter proposal that their proposed language was just to save face and not actually to protect graduate workers from difficult circumstances. We are not backing down from our position of needing timely contracts that detail our work duties in a clear and reasonable manner.

While our team and UNM’s team seem to agree that graduate workers have precarious positions and are easily exploited, our approaches to solving this issue seem to drastically diverge. UNM’s negotiating team seems to be promoting and perpetuating a culture of distrust between graduate workers and their advisors, supervisors, departments, and other governing bodies on campus. By suggesting that we should not plan our lives around our assistantships, for example, UNM’s team is also suggesting that we should no longer trust our advisors and supervisors when they assure us of continued work in future semesters. Further, though UNM included language specifying that personal errands should not be considered work duties, they continue to offer limited language on work duty descriptions, suggesting that UNM is more interested in protecting the University from the worst case scenario rather than making the lives of graduate workers easier. This is egregious, and we hope that UNM will take our next bargaining sessions more seriously and commit themselves to fostering a safer and healthier working environment for graduate workers, rather than one of distrust and paranoia. 

June 23, 2022: Today we met with UNM’s negotiating team for another bargaining session. We continued discussions regarding AGREEMENT, NON-DISCRIMINATION, EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS, DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE, and GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE articles. We came to a tentative agreement on the AGREEMENT article, which states that the contract we negotiate will be agreed upon between the University of New Mexico and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. 

We had a positive and productive discussion on why we need more detailed and expansive language around EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS. Our bargaining team has proposed language that our contracts must include things such as position descriptions, lists of duties, approximate distribution of hours per duty, as well as requiring appointment and reappointment letters in advance. We look forward to coming to an agreement with UNM’s team regarding this issue, as we believe it would benefit everyone. 

However, we were deeply disappointed at the UNM team’s belief that the non-renewal of an assistantship does not constitute a termination of employment and can therefore serve as a form of discipline. Our bargaining committee noted that many graduate workers are told, formally and informally, that they’ll have contracts in the future only to have such guarantees revoked. This is a difficult situation for anyone, as many of us plan our lives and livelihoods around our assistantship. To this, UNM’s team stated that we “shouldn’t plan our lives” around guarantees of future assistantships. This was incredibly insulting and out of touch with the reality of many graduate workers who have no other sources of income, have families to support, lack savings or familial wealth, etc. 

With regards to our NON-DISCRIMINATION article, UNM’s team has not made any movement from their previous counterpropsal, standing firm in their belief that we should not be allowed to seek grievance in cases of NON-DISCRIMINATION. This is frustrating as our team has tried to make good faith movement on the issue. We plan to keep fighting for a grievable NON-DISCRIMINATION article that protects us all. If you want to share your experiences with discrimination at UNM, you can share them anonymously on our new virtual bulletin board!


May 6th, 2022: Today we discussed Articles on NON-DISCRIMINATION, HEALTH AND SAFETY, UNION RIGHTS, GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE, EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS, and DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE.

The tone from UNM’s negotiating team was more contentious today. Their stance on the articles we discussed were concerning for several reasons. On the issue of DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE, they do not view renewing contracts as a form of retaliation, disciplining or discharge. On the issue of EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS, they did not consider any of the additional language we offered and instead offered the bare minimum, which is in fact less than what is typically included in most departments’ contracts. On the issue of UNION RIGHTS, the UNM administration’s negotiation team put forth a counterproposal that eliminates the right to have dues deducted from employees’ paychecks–a right of unions across the country.

We are especially disturbed that they are unwilling to move on creating a NON-DISCRIMINATION article that is grievable. It is important that our members feel protected by the union contract and have a process that allows grad workers to file a grievance if they are discriminated against on the basis of race, age, gender, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, United States military veteran’s status or disability. The UNM negotating team’s stance is that current Federal and State laws protect these categories and that the current structures in place, such OEO, that deal with discrimination claims are sufficient. As recent events show, the protection of these categories under Federal and State law are not stable and institutions such OEO do not work adequately. We believe we need a grievable non-discrimination article in our contract–to protect all of us, especially the most vulnerable. Our language that we have proposed is standard practice and has been included in contracts for graduate workers and other employees throughout the country and locally in the state of New Mexico.


May 5th, 2022: We have concluded the second day of our bargaining sessions! Today, we were given counter proposals, amended those counters, and further discussed our proposed articles and language introduced yesterday during our first session. We met with the administration’s committee from 9am until 5pm and will do the same tomorrow for our third bargaining session. 

Some articles have already been agreed upon by both our union and the UNM administration’s committee. They include tentative agreements on: RECOGNITION, DUTY TO COOPERATE, and SEVERABILITY. The RECOGNITION article details that the union is the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for us as grad workers. In the DUTY TO COOPERATE article, we have come to an agreement with the administration’s committee to cooperate with each other and create a respectful environment. Lastly, the SEVERABILITY article means this clause in our contract allows certain parts to remain in effect even if others are illegal or unenforceable. This is a huge win for us and proves that we are on the road to our first contract! 

During the negotiations, our bargaining team provided many thorough examples of our colleagues’ experiences to illustrate the need for protections and improved working conditions. These included measures to ensure safer working conditions and clearer scopes of work outlined in contracts. Our discussions were productive and resulted in progress towards more tentative agreements.


May 4th, 2022: Today was our first day of contract negotiations! It is thanks to each and every one of you that we were able to make it to this monumental day. This is just the beginning, and we have a difficult journey ahead, but with the continued support and engagement of our members, we know we will get a strong first contract! Shout out especially to everyone who wore a sticker today and/or who helped distribute stickers. Because of you, we made our presence on campus known – UNM knows we have the full support and solidarity of our community behind us. If you haven’t joined our union, you can do so here! Join and have a voice in our future contract negotiations.

Our first bargaining session was short (2-4pm), but we were able to get through introductions, went over ground rules, presented our first set of language proposals, and each of your bargaining committee members gave opening statements. The opening statements were powerful, each touching on a different set of priorities that you, our membership, voted on. Issues such as higher stipends, funding security, parking, dental, and timely delivery of contracts were touched on. Some highlights include:

“While working at UNM I have witnessed ample suffering caused by the inadequate wages and protections graduate employees experience. Graduate employees here simply do not have enough money to eat, stay healthy, and afford decent housing. As a result, many don’t have the time or finances to solve the problems they experience due to inadequate grievance procedures and contract security. I choose to exacerbate my own difficult situation to work with my colleagues for a fair contract because I am deeply troubled, not only by the suffering of grad workers, but also by the systematic way that suffering is distributed at our institution.”

“I found the university systems and processes to be unfriendly, uncooperative, un-navigable and deeply rooted in institutional wide disparities towards low-income students and students of color, graduate workers, and all workers for that matter. These disparities promote academic standards and professional expectations aimed at serving a privileged few in disregard for equity.” 

“We all feel exploited and we are tired of it. Graduate workers at UNM deserve to be paid a living wage and given proper health care. We deserve safety in our workplaces and the materials required to perform our duties. We need a fair grievance process, one that protects victims rather than one that shelters harassers and perpetuates cycles of abuse.”

We also set a number of other dates throughout the summer to bargaining:

June 23-24, 9am-5pm, July 13-15, 9am-5pm, August 11-12, 9am-5pm, August 29, 9am-5pm, August 31, 9am-5pm

The UNM negotiating committee was amicable and we hope negotiations continue in this way. We look forward to beginning good faith negotiations and believe these issues are ones that both parties agree need to be addressed.