The United Graduate Workers of the University of New Mexico held a walk-in on Monday, Aug. 22 to call attention to the continuous pushback they face from the University at the bargaining table and to show that, “the semester doesn’t start until the grad workers show up.”
“(We’re here) to just keep showing the University that we're a strong union, that we've got a lot of very engaged members, and it would be within, you know, in their best interest to negotiate a very strong contract with us … for the health of the whole university,” Samantha Cooney, Union bargaining team member, said.
The walk-in started at the UNM Bookstore, stopping first at the office of graduate studies. The department did not allow many graduate students’ raises to go through, claiming it was illegal to give raises during the bargaining sessions despite it not being so.
“I gotta live with this contract that we're getting this semester for the next five years of my life, and then I gotta live with the next contract and I'm not satisfied with a small raise, though that would be nice. I’m not gonna be satisfied ‘till we win that battle,” Union member Elle Hermann said.
The march ended at the office for academic personnel, the department that the office of graduate studies said was responsible for raises. While there, Hermann delivered timesheets that union members had been filling out during the event detailing tasks they did prior to the start of the semester that they would not be compensated for.
“Many of us have been working for hours and hours and hours before our contracts even started in order to give you, an undergraduate student, the best possible educational experience at this university,” Sarah Worland, a Union member said.
Bargaining remains at a stand-still with the non-discrimination clause, which is a non-arguable inclusion for the Union. Union member Liz Solis spoke about her experiences with discrimination as a teaching assistant at UNM, being the only one of her coworkers asked to do janitorial duties and facing numerous other microagressions.
Solis recalls being told, “you're a minority and you have to fight for everything, but I just don't see why you can't get this done and why you become so defensive,” by a faculty member at UNM.
“Do not be afraid to stand up to any faculty because they have no power over us. Together, as a union, we have power. We have control, and today everything needs to change,” Solis said.
Madeline Pukite is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maddogpukite
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