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LETTER: United Graduate Workers of UNM urge University to begin negotiations


Dear President Stokes, Provost Holloway, Dean Coonrod and Regents of the University of New Mexico,

As of Jan. 4, the United Graduate Workers of UNM (UGW-UE local 1466) was certified as the first union of graduate employees under the New Mexico Public Employee Bargaining Act. Graduate employees have long provided vital contributions to the teaching and research mission of UNM, yet struggle without adequate pay, healthcare or input in their working conditions.

Collectively bargaining with graduate employees strengthens our entire university and the state of New Mexico by providing a quality learning environment for our undergraduate students and allowing researchers to focus on innovation and discovery. Graduate workers are ready to sit down and negotiate solutions, and it is beyond time for the UNM administration to join them. 

Graduate Workers at UNM are paid an average stipend of just $14,438 — only 60% of what constitutes a living wage in Albuquerque — while collectively teaching over 10,000 undergraduate students every semester. Forcing graduate workers to live in poverty negatively impacts the quality of teaching and research at the University, deters future generations of students from pursuing higher education, and degrades the reputation of our flagship university. 

The research conducted by graduate workers at UNM plays a vital role in our communities. Graduate researchers at UNM study disparities in COVID vaccine distribution, are on the cutting edge of medical research, work to expand access to clean water in rural communities and design innovative ways of teaching and learning Spanish, among many other things. Improving graduate research conditions helps keep our New Mexico community safe, healthy and connected to our culture and heritage.

New Mexicans deserve to feel proud of our universities and to know that precious taxpayer dollars are being used to uplift and dignify educators and researchers rather than being wasted on union-busting efforts. Therefore, our union urgently demands that UNM administration begin good faith negotiations that will benefit our whole community. 


The United Graduate Workers of UNM

UGW-UE 1466

The United Graduate Workers of UNM (UGW-UE local 1466) is the union of UNM’s graduate employees. They encourage individuals to send letters to UNM’s administration to support their demand to bargain, which can be done here. 

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