United Graduate Workers of UNM Picket for Non-Discrimination Contract Language

July 14, 2022

Media Contact: Ian Birdwell, 570-594-2052, ibirdwell@unm.edu

Members of the United Graduate Workers of UNM (UGW-UE Local 1466) and community supporters will picket today, July 14th, from 8:30am-9am at the corner of University Blvd and Basehart, outside 851 University Blvd SE where contract negotiations between the union and the University of New Mexico are set to take place. The picket is in response to the University’s continued refusal to include basic non-discrimination protections in the graduate workers’ union contract.

The University insists that existing laws and University policies are sufficient protection from harassment and discrimination, however 79% of graduate workers in a 2021 survey indicated existing laws and policies were insufficient in addressing harassment and discrimination.

“Non-discrimination contract language should be an easy thing to agree on,” said Jalan Ziyad, chief steward in the Physics and Astronomy department. “UNM prides itself on being a Hispanic-serving and Minority-serving institution, but behind the scenes the University’s negotiating team is resisting standard protections for its minoritized grad workers.”

State and federal laws can change at any time, as was made clear by the overturn of Roe vs. Wade. Graduate workers face rampant discrimination on campus, which is evident in the bargaining survey report and virtual bulletin board.

The non-discrimination protections UGW-UE 1466 have proposed during negotiations are standard in higher education contracts across New Mexico and the country. UNM continues to evade accountability for discrimination on campus by refusing to commit to fair protections for their grad workers.

“I often hear personal stories about grad workers’ horrible experiences with reporting discrimination on campus,” said Joseph Ukockis, a graduate assistant in the History department. “Title IX and OEO often fail graduate workers and do not keep us safe from abuse and harassment. Having non-discrimination protections in our contract that we can enforce through our grievance process will give us more options to seek redress. It’s absolutely ridiculous that UNM wants to limit our protections.”

To arrange an interview with a graduate worker or community spokesperson call Ian Birdwell at 570-594-2052. Parking is available at 851 University Blvd SE.