UNM graduate workers announce union effort

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

It looks like they learned from their teachers.

Graduate students are trying to form a union at the state’s flagship university, something University of New Mexico faculty did last year.

Several UNM graduate workers on Friday announced an effort to form a union, saying in part that they carry too much of the teaching load and don’t make enough in return.

“Graduate students are the lifeblood of a research university,” Annie Montes, a graduate student in the biology department, said during a Zoom town hall announcing the union effort.

During the Zoom meeting, several graduate students said in addition to taking classes, they do a significant amount of work for the university, like teach courses, work on research projects and organize workshops and other events. But many said their living stipends for that work are just a little more than $12,000 per year.

That’s why they are launching a drive to get as many of their peers to sign cards showing their support of the union. Their goal is to form the first union of “graduate employees” in the state.

Efforts to reach the graduate students behind the organizing effort were unsuccessful Friday.

UNM averages about 1,800 graduate students on an “assistantship” each semester, and salaries range based on experience, said Cinnamon Blair, a spokeswoman for the university. She said post-master teacher assistants make at least $15,465 for 20-hour weeks for 10 months of the year and they don’t have to pay tuition, which makes total compensation the equivalent of $30,000 per year.

Provost James Holloway said in response to the effort that graduate education is critical to UNM’s mission. Teaching and research, he said, are part of the graduate student experience.

“The university recognizes the rights of our graduate students to decide to organize, and no matter what decision they reach, I welcome open and honest discussions,” he said in a statement.

There are 3,750 students in graduate programs at UNM this fall, plus an additional 669 graduate students in the Anderson School of Management, according to a 2020 enrollment report.

Graduate students during the town hall said “United Graduate Workers of UNM” would be affiliated with United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. The union’s goals would include better compensation, increased scholarships, better medical benefits, guaranteed paid leave and protections against discrimination and harassment.

The graduate students are following faculty at UNM, who last year voted overwhelmingly to form two unions, one for regular faculty and another for adjunct faculty members.

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop


Prison gang defendant convicted of murder
ABQnews Seeker
Long-running federal racketeering case ends for ... Long-running federal racketeering case ends for Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico
Rio Rancho theater group finally premieres 'Our Town'
ABQnews Seeker
Pandemic interrupted debut of the new ... Pandemic interrupted debut of the new troupe
A makeover for APS board: No incumbents running this ...
ABQnews Seeker
Influential local commercial real estate group ... Influential local commercial real estate group backing three candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot
Atrisco Acequia event on Saturday offers education
ABQnews Seeker
Community can learn about urban irrigation ... Community can learn about urban irrigation canals and share ideas to improve outdoor amenities
New Mexico reports 13 more COVID-19 deaths
ABQnews Seeker
There were 882 new cases and ... There were 882 new cases and 388 people are hospitalized
Redistricting proposals show shifts in CD-1 map
ABQnews Seeker
ABQ and Santa Fe could join, ... ABQ and Santa Fe could join, as citizens group seeks input
New Mexico gives 'Cry Macho' a different feel
ABQnews Seeker
'Cry Macho' was one of the ... 'Cry Macho' was one of the first productions to film in New Mexico when the film industry got the green light last fall. The ...
Direct ABQ-Hollywood flight to begin in January
ABQnews Seeker
A new daily direct flight between ... A new daily direct flight between Albuquerque and Hollywood Burbank Airport ...
Santa Fe deputies shoot, injure person in Santa Fe
ABQnews Seeker
Santa Fe County deputies shot and ... Santa Fe County deputies shot and injured a person Thursday evening in Santa Fe. New Mexico State Police, on Twitter, said no deputies were ...