Graduate workers approve first collective bargaining agreement with UNM
The Members of the United Graduate Workers have spent years protesting for better pay and treatment by the University of New Mexico. After months of intense bargaining, all their hard work has paid off; the union approved its first collective bargaining agreement with the university on December 16, 2022 with 96% in favor.
The contract will include a 10% raise to graduate workers earning the minimum, and a 7% raise for those above the minimum. UNM will also cover all of the graduate workers’ health care costs and a fourth of their dental care. The contract includes bereavement leave and a grievance process for graduate workers, including a written nondiscrimination clause.
Chief Steward of the United Graduate Workers at UNM, Ian Birdwell, says support from other unions on campus and the community was crucial.
"We're absolutely ecstatic about it. But we know that this isn't the end."
Birdwell says that the union will fight to allow all public workers the right to strike as public employees.
"Currently, that is not the right that is guaranteed to us. In fact, it's actually illegal for us to do so and risks us losing our union recognition."
UNM spokesperson Cinnamon Blair told Source New Mexico she could not comment on the ratification until after UNM received a signed copy of the contract.
The contract will take effect starting in the upcoming spring semester and current graduate workers who are not a part of the union can still join.
Within the contract, new negotiations won’t be possible until 2024 but the union can discuss salary changes with the university in 2023.