Press Release

University of New Mexico Faculty Petition for Union Election

Historic Filing Sets Path for Election, Collective Bargaining and a First Contract for 1,600 Lobo Profs

For Release: 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—A clear majority of faculty at the University of New Mexico have declared their support for unionization in an official election petition filed today with the UNM Labor Management Relations Board.

The UNM bargaining unit, comprising more than 1,600 full- and part-time faculty on five campuses—UNM’s main campus, in Albuquerque; UNM-Gallup; UNM-Los Alamos; UNM-Taos; and UNM-Valencia—has organized under the banner of United Academics of the University of New Mexico for more faculty voice and transparency on campus.

UA-UNM hopes to strengthen student supports, tenure and promotion, faculty recruitment and retention, and job security to provide the best possible environment for teaching, learning, research and outreach across the Land of Enchantment.

UA-UNM, affiliated nationally with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors, will formally vote on the union in the coming months and seek certification from the UNM Labor Management Relations Board. Faculty are calling on the UNM administration to work collaboratively with them rather than expend precious public resources pursuing an antagonistic and counterproductive approach to recognition and a first contract.

John Zimmerman, associate professor of fine arts at UNM-Gallup, said: “We have had many, many conversations with colleagues here at the Gallup branch. What comes through is a commitment to our students and the quality of education they receive on the branch campuses. By building our union across UNM, faculty are coming together to voice the need for a mechanism to support our students, including recruiting and retaining our high-quality faculty and supporting shared governance on all campuses. Filing for faculty union recognition is a great first step.”

Julia Scherba de Valenzuela, an associate professor in UNM’s department of special education, said: “Our efforts have made clear that transparency in decision-making is something that is lacking at UNM. Faculty are the backbone of our institution, yet we have seen over and over how decisions are made at every level that impact us, our students and staff, with only cursory input from university stakeholders. We must do better. United Academics of UNM is one vehicle where faculty can hold administrators accountable for decisions and priorities.”

AFT New Mexico President Stephanie Ly said: “UNM faculty conduct the research and teach the students that have forged the university’s reputation as a world-leading institution at the forefront of new knowledge. But all too often, they have been sidelined when it comes to the crucial decisions that impact their work lives. Faculty have come together across the state to declare their support for a union, to make sure they have a collaborative say in these crucial decisions. We are confident they will soon win the union they have worked so hard to achieve.”

Paul Davis, AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress chair, said: “We look forward to welcoming the UNM faculty to the AAUP family. Collective bargaining strengthens the faculty’s ability to protect academic freedom and is the best way for faculty to have a voice on their campus and help determine academic priorities. It will be a pleasure to work with the UMN faculty in achieving their goals.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “The UNM faculty understand that coming together as a union enables a real voice on the job—something that they don’t have alone. Faculty want the professional respect and latitude they deserve. With a decisive majority in support of the union, we are calling on UNM to work with, not against, its own employees, by committing to negotiate a contract that builds on UNM’s reputation for excellence. A faculty union will make UNM an even better university, and it is vital their democratic choice is respected. The 1.7 million members of the AFT will have their backs as they exercise their right to a permanent seat at the bargaining table.”


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Unionized and nonunionized chapters of the AAUP champion academic freedom, advance shared governance, and promote economic security for all who teach and conduct research in higher education. Since 1915, the AAUP has shaped American higher education by defending standards that support quality education and ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good.


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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.