Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury, Community Leaders Call on UNM to Begin Negotiations with Graduate Union

January 26, 2022

Media Contact: Alana Bock, 619-370-3003, 

University of New Mexico alums, representatives of Southwest Organizing Project and OLE New Mexico, and representatives from Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury’s office joined a crowd of 75 graduate workers and community members to call on UNM administrators to begin collective bargaining with United Graduate Workers of UNM (UGW-UE Local 1466). Following speeches, a delegation marched to Scholes Hall to deliver letters from attendees demanding a start to negotiation. Community members have already sent over 2,900 letters electronically to UNM administrators and regents.

“As a former graduate student worker myself, I know firsthand the essential role that grad workers play in educating students, conducting research, and bringing talent, recognition, and resources to our universities,” said Rep. Stansbury. “As the daughter of proud union members, I also know the essential role that unions play in ensuring that workers get a fair shake. That’s why I am proud to stand in solidarity with the UNM grad workers in their efforts to organize and build a brighter future for the entire UNM community. I look forward to an open and fair bargaining process that recognizes the vital contributions of graduate workers to our flagship university and which results in a fair and living wage. I will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our grad workers in this effort and all who are fighting to create more good union jobs that respect the dignity and rights of our workers and pay a living wage.”

UNM alum and local environmental justice organizer Alejandría Lyons called on UNM administrators to live up to their stated values. “I am from Los Lunas. I am not only the first graduate of UNM from my family, I was the first graduate student in my family” said Lyons. “If it wasn't for my community supporting me with other job opportunities I wouldn't have been able to make it through my higher education. UNM prides itself on being a Hispanic serving institution, and we have so many students from Pueblos and Indigenous communities. It's a shame that UNM has a social justice statement, but it continues to treat its workers without respect.” 

“Graduate students have been an indispensable asset and are a crucial part of the day to day function, academic excellence, and Lobo culture that makes the University of New Mexico unique” said Jay Wilson, speaking on behalf of OLE New Mexico. "Despite the tumult of the last three years, these students have risen to the occasion consistently and given so much of themselves in return for a modicum of what they truly deserve.” 

Graduate workers at UNM are paid an average stipend of just $14,438 - about $9,000 below the base living wage in Albuquerque - while collectively teaching over 10,000 undergraduate students every semester. Graduate researchers at UNM make important contributions to the state of New Mexico, such as conducting studies in COVID-vaccine distribution or access to clean water in rural communities. On January 4th, 2022, after a year of failed legal challenges from the UNM administration, over 1,500 graduate employees were certified as the first graduate union in the state of New Mexico. On January 10th, 2022, the elected Bargaining Committee of UGW-UE 1466 sent a letter to UNM general counsel requesting that the university schedule a date to begin contract bargaining. University administrators have so far not committed to a first session of negotiations. 

To arrange an interview with a graduate worker or community spokesperson call Alana Bock at 619-370-3003.