On Aug. 17, the New Mexico Public Education Labor Relations Board ruled that graduate employees are public employees and eligible to collectively bargain under the state's Public Employee Bargaining Act. The University of New Mexico community will be rallying Sept. 3 at 11 a.m. between the Student Union Building and Mesa Vista calling on the UNM administration to respect this ruling and begin negotiations as swiftly as possible.

We, the undersigned faculty, ask the UNM administration to recognize and collectively bargain with the graduate employee union — the United Graduate Workers of UNM (UGW). An overwhelming majority of graduate workers legally authorized UGW to represent them last fall, yet the UNM administration has yet to come to the bargaining table. We call on the UNM administration to respect graduate employees' decision to unionize and to bargain with UGW over pay, working conditions and benefits.



Our university would not be able to operate without the valuable labor that the 1,600 graduate employees at UNM contribute. According to UGW’s Bargaining Survey Report, graduate teaching assistants are the primary instructor of record for over 19% of courses taught at UNM. In addition, graduate teaching assistants advise students, write recommendation letters, assist faculty in grading, lead discussion sections and much more. It is likely that very few undergraduates graduate from UNM without having been taught or graded by a graduate teaching assistant.

Furthermore, the important research that we produce at UNM — research that improves our communities and advances our understanding of the world — would not be possible without the hundreds of graduate research assistants who contribute to research projects across the University.

Over 64,000 graduate workers at public universities across the country are represented by a union. Graduate assistants are unionized at many of the top public R1 universities in the country, including University of California, University of Michigan, University of Oregon, University of Iowa and the University of Florida. These universities have thriving research and education programs in large part because of the contributions of unionized graduate teaching and research assistants.

Graduate students at unionized universities report feeling more supported, having more work satisfaction and having better relationships with their faculty advisors and mentors. A graduate employee union at UNM will make UNM better, not worse, as it gives graduate assistants the opportunity to advocate for their needs and to thrive in their teaching, research and lives.

Graduate employees at UNM are some of the lowest-paid educators in the state. The minimum stipend at UNM for a graduate teaching assistant working a half-time appointment is lower than every unionized institution in the country. The UNM Basic Needs Report has shown that almost 22% of graduate students are food insecure and over 35% of graduate students are housing insecure. 

Furthermore, UGW’s Spring 2021 Bargaining Survey Report showed that 65% of surveyed graduate workers reported delaying medical care due to the cost of care. As pay and benefits at UNM lag behind peer and unionized institutions and many struggle to access adequate housing and meals, graduate workers deserve the right to advocate for their needs through the process of collective bargaining.

As an R1 university, UNM’s mission is to produce valuable research and provide the highest quality education to undergraduates from across the state, country and world. We know that the working conditions of graduate assistants are our undergraduate students’ learning conditions. Graduate assistants are simply asking for a seat at the table and a say in the decisions that affect their lives.

We ask the UNM administration to respect graduate assistants’ decision to unionize and bargain with UGW so that we can continue providing a high-quality education and produce innovative research that advances our society and improves our communities.

Sincerely,

Christian Koops, Linguistics

Gabriel Fries-Briggs, Architecture

Ann Murphy, Philosophy

Elizabeth Elia, Law

Renia Ehrenfeucht, Community and Regional Planning

Eric Lindsey, Earth and Planetary Sciences

David Prior, History

Shannon Withycombe, History

Peter Worland, Earth and Planetary Science

Meggan Gould, Art

Sarah Hernandez, English

Tyler Mackey, Earth and Planetary Sciences

Melissa Axelrod, Linguistics

Michael Trujillo, American Studies and Chicanx Studies

Kelly Becker, Philosophy

Katherine Massoth, History

Sherman Wilcox, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Linguistics

Rosa Vallejos, Linguistics

Melissa Axelrod, Linguistics

David Correia, American Studies

Rebecca Schreiber, American Studies

Dawn Nordquist, Linguistics

James L Boone, Anthropology

Alyosha Goldstein, American Studies

Joan L Bybee, Linguistics

Kathleen Holscher, American Studies

Melanie K. Yazzie, Native American Studies and American Studies

Erin Wilkinson, Linguistics

Barbara Shaffer, Linguistics

Professor William Croft, Linguistics

Gail T Houston, English Department

Andrea L Mays, American Studies/Women Gender & Sexuality Studies

Christena Griffin, SLIP/Linguistics

Leslie Donovan, Honors College

Kathryn Wichelns, Associate Professor, English

Cristyn L. Elder, Associate Professor, Rhetoric and Writing, English

Michael A. Ryan, History

David Stout, Law

David Witherington, Psychology

Megan Osborne, Biology

Andrea Polli, Art

David Hart Lewis, Department of Special Education

Amanda Lujan, Linguistics

Manel Martinez-Ramon, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Robert F. Jefferson Jr., History

Troy Lovata, Honors College

Keri Stevenson, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Gallup Branch

Maria Szasz, Honors College

Lorenzo F. Garcia Jr., Foreign Languages and Literatures

Aaron Cayer, Architecture

Shinsuke Eguchi, Communication & Journalism

Naomi Shin, Linguistics and Spanish & Portuguese

Elizabeth James, Honors College

Mark Morgan-Tracy, Physics and Astronomy

Owen Whooley, Sociology

Katrin Schroeter, Foreign Languages & Literatures

Christopher Witt, Biology

Szu-Han Ho, Art

Jessica Goodkind, Sociology

Kimberly Gauderman, History

Colin Olson, Sociology

Nahir Otano Gracia, English

Holly Guise, History

Evan Ashworth, Communication and Journalism

José L. Palacios, ECE

Elizabeth Cooper, University Libraries

Katherine Ulrich, Religious Studies

Lindsay Worthington, Earth and Planetary Sciences

Jesus Costantino, English Language and Literature

Deborah R. McFarlane, Political Science

Beth Davila, English

Margaret Connell-Szasz, History

Claudia B Isaac, Community & Regional Planning

Karen Gaudreault, Health Exercise and Sport Sciences

Belinda Deneen Wallace, ENGL

Dr. Paul J. Watson, Biology

Deborah Fort, Film and Digital Arts

Llewelynn Fletcher, Art

Osbjorn Pearson, Anthropology

Claudia Diaz Fuentes, Economics

Lisa D. Chavez, English

Dominika Laster, Theatre and Dance

Phillip Glass, Mathematics and Statistics

Carman Melendrez, Faculty Research Development Office

Ryan Kelly, Individual, Family and Community Education

Kate Cartwright, School of Public Administration

Mark W McKnight, Art

Renee Faubion, Honors College

Julianne Fontenoy, Gallup FAHSS

Dave Keating, Communication & Journalism

Myrriah Gomez, Honors College

Kristina Jacobsen, Music and Anthropology

Holly Surbaugh, University Libraries

Debbie Luffey, IFCE

Lorna Brau, FLL

Lisa Myers, English

Matthias Pleil, Mechanical Engineering

Michael Andersen, Biology

Ana June, English Department, UNM-Valencia

Jon Wheeler, University Libraries

Anthony Salvagno, NSMS

Julia Scherba de Valenzuela, Special Education

Amy L Brandzel, American Studies & Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Gary Cook, Art, UNM-Taos

Carmen Julia Holguin, Spanish and Portuguese

Jennifer Tucker, Community and Regional Planning

Dominika Laster, Theatre and Dance

R. Lee Montgomery, Art

Paul Livingston, Philosophy

Sarah Davis-Secord, History

Matthew D. Mingus, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (UNM-Gallup)

Todd Quinn, University Libraries

Ana G. Hernández Gonzalez, Spanish and Portuguese

Billy Brown, Mathematics and Statistics

J Stuart Smith, Theater and Dance

Greg Barnett, Mathematics - Valencia

Matias Fontenla, Economics

Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, School of Law

Mozafar Banihashemi, Religious Studies

Jonatha Kottler, Honors College

Jennifer Laws, School of Law

Nina Fonoroff, Film and Digital Arts

Brianna Figueroa, Theatre & Dance

Samuel Truett, History

Catherine Hubka, Chemical and Biological Engineering & English Language and Literature

Kathryn McKnight, Spanish & Portuguese

Pratap Khattri, Economics

Lisa Broidy, Sociology

Jeremy E. Baker, Sociology

Sue Taylor, Social Sciences, Valencia Campus

Susana Martínez Guillem, Communication & journalism

Ray Hernández-Durán, Art

Peninah D. Wolpo , Classics

Joshua Birchall, Linguistics

Lisa Barrow, Biology

Kari L Schleher, Anthropology

Adrian Johnston, Philosophy

Tiffany Florvil, History

Mitch Marty, English

Eleuterio Santiago-Díaz, Spanish and Portuguese

Sarah Townsend, English