Media Contact: Anna Rose, 505-907-3757, firstname.lastname@example.org
University of New Mexico Graduate workers, faculty, undergraduate student leaders and community supporters will be kicking off labor day weekend today by calling on the UNM administration to respect a recent state ruling on graduate worker union rights and commit to negotiations as soon as possible. The rally will be held this morning, September 3rd, at 11am on the Cornell Mall between the Student Union Building and Mesa Vista Hall.
Over 1,000 graduate employees at UNM formed a union and filed for certification under the Public Employee Bargaining Act (PEBA) last fall to address low wages and poor benefits, and to win protections from overwork and discrimination. The University administration unsuccessfully argued for over 9 months that New Mexico should bar graduate employees from coverage under the state’s collective bargaining law.
“We’re rallying because we know graduate workers and the students we teach can’t afford any more stall tactics or delays from the UNM administration,” said Emma Minks, a Teaching Assistant in the English Department. “We’re relieved that the state labor board finally ruled that graduate employees have the right to collectively bargain in New Mexico. Now it's time for the UNM administration to commit to respecting this decision and beginning contract negotiations as soon as possible.”
UNM graduate employees teach over 500 classes attended by thousands of undergraduate students each semester. Despite long hours teaching, researching, and grading, graduate assistants earn an average minimum stipend of just $14,438 per year, which is barely above the poverty line and lower than almost all other instructors in the state. Graduate assistants at peer institutions like the University of Iowa and the University of Kansas earn far more.
“When graduate workers are overworked and underpaid it has a negative effect on our students,” Minks stated. “I love my students and I care about how they learn. We can't afford to continue to deny our undergraduates the full education they are paying for.”
To arrange an interview with a UNM graduate worker please contact Anna Rose at 505-907-3757.