Graduate workers at the University of New Mexico (UNM) have released a petition calling for recognition of their right to unionize after UNM filed a motion stating that graduate workers are not employees and do not share a community of interest.
The petition points out that this is a stark divergence from UNM Provost James Holloway’s initial statement in October 2020, when he said that “the university recognizes the rights of our graduate students to organize.”
The Right to Association
According to the petition, graduate employees decided to unionize so that they could address longstanding issues such as job insecurity, inadequate benefits, overwhelming workloads, and poor compensation.
In response, UNM cited a proposed rule from the Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which proposed that private institution graduate students should not be recognized as employees. This move would have also prevented the students from organizing unions.
UNM argued that New Mexico should also apply the Trump administration’s proposal to graduate workers at public universities within the state.
Nearly 1,000 graduate workers at the university have joined the union. The petition urges UNM “to recognize the vital labor that graduate employees contribute to the university and the community, to recognize the right of graduate employees to unionize, and to recognize the right of graduate employees to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives.”
Several redditors expressed their outrage and disbelief, highlighting the stark contrast between the university’s treatment of administrators, athletic employees, and graduate employees.
Some commenters complained that administrators and sports coaches earn far more than teachers across the board, citing numbers from the Salary Book at the UNM to support their claims.