“Disappointed. All of us.”

That’s how Gil Martinez, vice president of the local union that represents hundreds of city employees, described the group’s response to Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber’s reelection Tuesday night.

During Webber’s first term, the union filed multiple grievances with a state labor board and reports to federal agencies claiming unsafe working conditions. It won a $700,000 settlement to make up for a pandemic furlough plan that was found to be in violation of the union’s collective bargaining agreement.

The union also voted “no confidence” in the mayor.

Martinez said he hopes Webber’s second term is far less contentious. But he wasn’t optimistic.

“It is hard to look forward and think things will get better with the way things are right now,” he said. “I hope we can mend some fences. The way we are going just isn’t working.”

Webber offered a brighter outlook Thursday. Going forward, he said, his administration and the union are going to find ways to work together to show there is no “us or them.”

“I said it election night,” he said. “I am grateful to the people who support me, but I am also grateful to the people who have supported other candidates. That is the democratic process.”

Webber defeated City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler, who was endorsed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ Local 3999, and Alexis Martinez Johnson, an environmental engineer and former congressional candidate, in the first round of the ranked-choice election with 55 percent of the vote.

The lack of goodwill between the union and Webber began early in the election, with the mayor’s campaign accusing the union of circulating antisemitic materials and union members accusing the mayor of bullying and pushing out employees with opposing viewpoints.

Recently, union President Gilbert Baca was fired after he was accused of timecard fraud. Baca claimed his termination was in retaliation for his advocacy since he took the reins of the union in December 2020.

Baca, who could not be reached for comment, has appealed the firing.

City spokesman Dave Herndon declined to comment on Baca’s termination in October. He said the city does not comment on personnel matters, and elected officials, such as the mayor, are not involved in disciplinary matters.

Meanwhile, the city and the union are in the middle of a drawn-out contract negotiation that has been at a virtual standstill since January 2020.

Martinez said union leaders believed Vigil Coppler would have made a positive change in the negotiation process.

“We worked to get her in there because we knew she was on labor’s side,” Martinez said. “She was always concerned about the employees and the inequities we were facing the past four years.”

Webber said he couldn’t speak about the pace of the negotiations but, unlike Martinez, was optimistic the two sides would reach a deal sooner rather than later.

“We have to work together to make Santa Fe a better place for everyone,” Webber said. “That includes people who are members of the union, people who are members of an organization who endorsed someone else.”

(14) comments

William Mee

I don't know if people know this or not, because the papers never reported it, but a lady started a Change dot org Petition. She got like 2,500 signatures in a very short time and just by word-of-mouth. https://www.change.org/p/constituents-of-santa-fe-calling-for-the-removal-of-santa-fe-mayor-alan-webber/psf/share

This petition was to force a recall election. State law prohibits a Recall Election within sic months after an election. But I could see the next four years of Whistleblowers, Union-sniping and Recall attempts. Lots of newspapers will be sold. Webber needs a change of heart.

Lupe Molina

He just won by 20 points. This is silly.

William Mee

Here is a partial accounting of what is going on by a Union Representative:

William, you are correct. Let me pass on a few disturbing numbers.

Before the recession that hit us around 2008, the City had approximately 1800 employees. The City had a tremendous Finance Department that knew how to balance a budget and since Santa Fe has always had a higher tax rate, the City was able to offer its residents great services and facilities. The City always had the ability to work on huge project like the new convention center, the Marty Sanchez golf course, the MRC, the purchase of the railyard, the Genoveva Chavez Community Center and the Southside Library. What projects have we had in the past 8 years? None!

The recession lasted years and in those year the city staff level decreased by means of attrition. Staffing dropped to approximately 1400.

Now our staff level has grown to approximately 1,550. The City's Labor Union used to have 700 members, now we are down to approximately 440 members, we lost about 250 positions that this administration kept vacant in order to fund management. If we started at 1400 and we lost 250 blue collar positions but the City has 1550 employees now. That means the city increase the top by 400 employees.

When you ask why we only have 5 people cleaning parks, all I can say is that in 2007, parks had 145 employees. in 2007, streets had 18 employees fixing potholes and sweeping snow. Now we have 2 people fixing potholes and 3 others doing everything else. The water department had 60 servicemen and. now we have 16.

The worst thing is that we are in 2021 and the population grown to 88,000 with the annexation of Airport Road and surrounding areas. The city has grown by approximately 25%, and the blue collar workers have shrunk in size by about 30%. More streets to fix, more parks to maintain, more trails, more waterlines, more solid waste, more Wastewater etc. Management has grown by about 35% and all the departments have failed us miserable.

I hope this helps you understand what this administration has done to our City.

Like you said 5 handling the medians when we had up to 100 student interns in weed season.

Comment deleted.
William Mee

Chris I don't know all the specifics, but I'm sure a Union member can chime in here. But the City Manager La Pan, used about 6 months of Family Medical Leave and then worked at home for months after that. Not seeing the insides of City Hall for almost a year. Yet, that is the ONE employee that should have. Just to make sure work flow is flowing.

Joe Brownrigg

I've been a leader in a union. The election is finished. What's done is done.

It's time for the union and Webber to get to work at the tasks at hand. Enough sniping and making excuses. Deal with it!!!

Christina Gill

Interesting that the union feels city workers kept up with services during the pandemic. We are still finding that although we in the private sector are having to get our jobs done with less staff, contacting anyone at the city for serices is next to impossible and all services other than garbage pickup proceed at a snails pace.. Vacinated people should be at there desks working but not so with the city union workers.

Angel Ortiz

The City staff deserves better than Webber and their union. Keep in mind how the boots on the ground kept picking up up your garage, maintenance of the parks during the pandemic. They did so with less resources and no true leadership!

Prince Michael Jauregui

Ah, the "Democratic process": $461,000 in campaign money - with the largest donors from out-of-state?


Mike Johnson


Lupe Molina

I think the residents of Santa Fe are starting to get fed up with this union and it's frequent disruptive behavior. Unions are a great and necessary part of American businesses. But this one seems more focused on political grandstanding than anything else. A 20 point win by Webber should be the signal they need to focus on providing high quality services to the residents. We'll stand behind the workers and pay raises, but we have to good work being done first.

DeeDee Downs

Well stated, Lupe. I agree 9and I am a union gal myself... but this particular union behaves more like whining adolescents than pro-active adults, imho.

Stefanie Beninato

Well now maybe now the union will be a little bit more collaborative rather than thinking it is a rainmaker.

Richard Reinders

IMO If 11 months is sooner than later, I wonder how long later is.

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