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AFSCME New Mexico members ratify historic contract

Photo credit: Mark Newman/Getty Images
AFSCME New Mexico members ratify historic contract
By Mila Myles ·
AFSCME New Mexico members ratify historic contract
Fred Garcia, President of AFSCME Local 3320. (Member-provided photo)

Earlier this month, members of AFSCME Council 18 ratified a historic contract with the State of New Mexico, celebrating several hard-earned victories as the 2022 state legislative session ended. 

Working closely with the Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, her administration and their legislative allies, AFSCME Council 18 members were able to help reach a contract that not only invests in New Mexico but addresses long-standing issues that are critical to union members.

“This is the best compensation package state employees have received and it is all because of our union,” said Fred Garcia, President of AFSCME Local 3320, and a member of the Council 18 bargaining team. “We bargained with the state and worked with legislators to secure significant funding in the budget. This is what union power looks like.”

AFSCME Council 18 members successfully negotiated the strongest set of raises in state history, with a $15/hour minimum wage for all state employees, robust funding to address compaction and even 4% for higher-paid workers. AFSCME members also secured sufficient funding with flexible language to implement the agreement, and they worked with their legislative allies and the administration to add a 3% across-the-board raise for all state employees to be implemented for the last quarter of fiscal year 2022.

In even-numbered years, the New Mexico legislature meets for a short, 30-day session, with a primary focus on the budget. Any item that is ruled as consequential to the budget, however, such as tax and pension policies, may be introduced, as well as anything placed on the docket by the administration.

“This budget addresses staffing and includes funding for our historic pay package,” said Connie Derr, the Executive Director of Council 18 and an AFSCME International Vice President for the Southwestern District. “These investments will help us recruit and retain state and university employees and deliver vital services to the people of our state. This session was a huge success for working families across our state and AFSCME members helped make it happen.”

As a result of these hard-won pay increases, the minimum raise for state and university workers will be 7%, with an average of 10% for all state employees. Lower wage workers and workers at the lower end of their current pay bands and comparative ratios will see raises closer to 40%. The average raise for AFSCME members will be well over 10%.

AFSCME Council 18 members also fought vigorously to defeat three separate double-dipping proposals that would have only helped high-level management employees. Double-dipping refers to the practice of rehiring former workers who are also drawing a large retirement. This serves as a wage suppression mechanism, which often doesn’t result in front-line services being better staffed and instead limits upward mobility for workers. AFSCME Council 18 has consistently opposed all double-dipping for years, and it was their leadership among labor allies that helped kill these bills and secure enough votes so that several other proposals were never heard.

AFSCME Council 18 is the umbrella organization that houses the various city, county and state locals affiliated with AFSCME in New Mexico and Colorado, representing thousands of dedicated public service workers.

“This session was a huge success for AFSCME members across New Mexico,” said Cathy Townes, the Vice President of AFSCME Local 477, who is also a member of the Council 18 bargaining team. “We worked together to defeat legislation that would have been bad for workers, and we were able to secure a pay package that will truly change the lives of so many hard-working state employees. I am extremely proud to be a member of AFSCME.”

 Among their other 2022 legislative victories, Council 18 members in New Mexico were also successful in defeating bills aimed at attacking workers and the state’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), along with stopping a push to privatize and outsource some public sector jobs.

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