Our right to form a union is legally protected by the New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act. Before we began bargaining with the university, our union was certified through the following processes:
Our first step was to prepare a petition for submission to the UNM Labor Management Relations Board (LMRB), the local board allowed under New Mexico law to govern labor relations for employees of the university. We were required to provide evidence that at least 30% of the faculty desired to be represented by our union. A common method for gathering this evidence is to collect authorization cards from faculty.
We submitted the petition and authorization cards to the LMRB. The university also received a copy of the petition, but the authorization cards remained confidential and were only reported to the university in aggregate.
- University reviews petition
At this point, the university could have decided to recognize our union voluntarily. If they chose this, we would have then proceeded directly to collective bargaining!
Since the university chose not to decide to recognize our union voluntarily, the petition continued to the LMRB review process. Any questions raised were resolved by the LMRB, either by working with the pertinent parties or through a hearing process.
When the LMRB finished reviewing the petition and all questions were resolved, an election was scheduled for October 15 and 15, 2019. A majority of voters voted yes, and our union was certified. At that point, we initiated bargaining with the employer and faculty will begin to enjoy the full protections that exist under New Mexico labor law.
After our election was held in October 2019, we began building the structure and organizational capacity required to sustain our union well beyond certification. The exact internal structure of our union may take a number of forms, though typically faculty unions set up committees and workgroups. We will continue to increase support and to develop new leaders before, during, and after the certification process.
After certification, we began the collective bargaining process in early 2020. First, our membership survey established bargaining priorities; next, members of the faculty formed bargaining and research committees; and finally, our bargaining team entered into negotiations with the university administration. Once negotiations are complete, our faculty bargaining team will submit the contract to our membership for ratification. Should our membership vote to ratify the contract, we will enter into a monitoring and implementation phase where members, elected leadership, and staff work together to ensure that the terms of the contract are upheld by university administration, and to secure due process in the event of contract violations by the administration.
During the first year, we drafted a provisional constitution and will draft bylaws, which will determine the internal structure and decision-making processes for our union. We will maintain a democratic organization by facilitating regular meetings and engaging members on an ongoing basis.