Last week there were three unrelated demonstrations at the University of New Mexico — each one larger than the last.
On Tuesday, the UNM faculty marched to Scholes Hall chanting and using an air horn. The march followed a meeting discussing the agreement between United Academics of UNM (UA-UNM) and the University to allow a vote on the existence of a faculty union. UNM President Garnett Stokes has promised to honor the outcome of the vote. The group of about 30 faculty dispersed after an hour.
On Wednesday, graduate workers walked out in order to advocate for “living wages.” That protest swelled to around 200 people and lasted over two hours.
On Friday, hundreds of Albuquerque students walked out of class to bring attention to human-caused climate change. This in conjunction with the worldwide movement, School Strike for Climate.
All three stories can be viewed in their entirety at www.dailylobo.com.
The University of New Mexico and United Academics of UNM (UA-UNM), the proposed faculty union for the state’s flagship university, reached an agreement late Monday night, according to multiple sources close to the matter.
That night, Associate Professor Matías Fontenla, a member of the union’s organizing committee, told the Daily Lobo there would be two bargaining units — one for full-time faculty and the other representing part-time.
He also said faculty from branch campuses will be included in the full-time bargaining team, a major sticking-point for UNM in their initial rejection of the union’s petition.
President Garnett Stokes and UNM Chief Legal Counsel Loretta Martinez expanded on the outline of the union during a general faculty meeting on Tuesday morning:
- Emeritus professors, department chairs and directors, and visiting faculty are not included in the bargaining units.
Martinez said an election to approve a collective-bargaining unit for the faculty is planned for an unspecified date during the fall 2019 semester. Stokes has spoken previously about starting an education campaign, although it is unclear what the campaign would look like.
UA-UNM has yet to speak publicly about any education campaign. However, the union has held various social and informational events during the semester.
“Who are we? Graduate Workers! What do we want? A living wage!”
That was one of several chants shouted by around 200 (mostly) graduate workers during a march and protest for higher wages on Wednesday.
The event was nine days after the Board of Regents, who govern UNM, approved a hike to graduate student’s cost of attendance.
“I just want to live somewhere safe, I just want to afford rent and I want to be able to pay my car insurance to drive to school,” Monica Wolfe, an organizer of the march, said.
With a 3% tuition increase and additional fees, graduate students will pay an additional $302 a year to attend after July.
Wolfe is a teaching assistant in the English department. She said that Wednesday’s march around UNM Main Campus was the first step of a process to secure higher wages.
“This is to gain awareness, to gain recognition and to reach out to other graduate workers who might be afraid to speak out,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe said Wednesday's march and the graduate workers who organized it were not affiliated with any union, including United Academics of UNM (UA-UNM), the proposed faculty union.
But that’s the direction Axel Gonzalez, another organizer, said he would like to go.
Gonzalez, a teaching and graduate assistant in the American Studies Department, said he did not have comment regarding if the group had been contacted by a large labor union (such as the American Federation of Teachers or UA-UNM).
The youth have spoken on climate change, and their message is clear: inaction will no longer be tolerated.
Over 200 students from the Albuquerque area walked out of class on Friday afternoon. They converged on Johnson Field in protest of governmental failures to address climate change. The student-led demonstration demanded elected officials and businesses face the reality of human-caused climate change and take steps to mitigate it.
It was organized by Fight For Our Lives, a student-activist group formed in response to the Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February of last year. The protest ended in a march from Johnson Field to the intersection of Central and Carlisle, where the junction was blocked for the better part of an hour.
Izzy Griego, a 14-year-old student from Media Arts Collaborative Charter School and an organizer for the protest, said that since adults aren't taking charge of the situation, it was up to the students.
"They know that this is a challenge and it's happening right now, but they're greedy and don't want to lose money in order to save our planet," Griego said. "Us, being the youth, needed to go out there and make a splash in the community, because it's our future that we're fighting for."
As chants of "climate change is not a lie, do not let our planet die" faded away, a group of speakers from various schools around the city began the official proceedings at 1 p.m. They lamented the lack of engagement from government and civic leaders and spoke at length about the dangers of a changing climate, drawing cheers by excoriating the fossil fuel industry and plastic pollution. Several motorists passing by on Redondo Drive honked their appreciation, and curious onlookers filtered in and out over the course of the goings-on.
Kyle Land wrote “UNM, Union reach agreement (updated).” Land is a senior reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @kyleoftheland.
Justin Garcia wrote “Graduates protest for higher wages.” Garcia is the editor in chief of the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Just516garc
Andrew Gunn wrote “ABQ students walk out for climate action, participate in global movement.” Gunn is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @agunnwrites.