Graduate students attempting to certify a union at the University of New Mexico will participate in a “work-in” during a board of regents meeting early Tuesday, according to a news release from United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America.
The workers — graduate assistants who first filed a petition to unionize in December 2020 in hopes of bargaining for better pay and health care benefits — will take their teaching and grading duties to the UNM duck pond at 11 a.m. as the regents meet for their final session of the semester.
The workers are calling for UNM administrators and regents to withdraw an appeal of an August Public Employee Labor Relations Board decision that ruled graduate workers are eligible for collective bargaining.
Lawyers for the union have filed a motion to dismiss the appeal.
The university also filed a motion to delay a “card check” process with the labor board, which is required to certify the graduate worker union, due to the pending litigation. The labor board denied the motion Friday, and its director, Tom Griego, said Monday the card check will take place Dec. 17.
Griego said the labor board is arguing the decision can’t be appealed until after the graduate worker union is certified, adding the university’s decision to appeal is premature.
Currently, graduate workers at New Mexico State University are also working to unionize and bargain.
The group initially petitioned under a local labor board, but it dissolved this fall and the case is now under jurisdiction of the Public Employee Labor Relations Board.
“The legal issue has been determined now, that graduate students are eligible to bargain,” Griego said.
That said, Griego added, the final decisions for graduate worker unionization eligibility in New Mexico will depend on how Second Judicial District Court Judge Denise Barela-Shepherd rules on UNM’s appeal.