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Governor, other New Mexico leaders join Staff the Front Lines bus tour, hiring hall

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at the Staff the Front Lines bus tour stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo: Nick Voutsinos
Governor, other New Mexico leaders join Staff the Front Lines bus tour, hiring hall
By Nick Voutsinos ·

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The AFSCME “Staff the Front Lines” bus tour ended its swing through Western states with a stop in New Mexico.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, House Speaker Javier Martínez and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller joined AFSCME Council 18 members Monday to encourage New Mexicans to apply for open public service jobs. A hiring hall held at the same venue featured employers from nine agencies, including the City of Albuquerque, the State of New Mexico, the City of Rio Rancho and Bernalillo County.

From nurses to sanitation workers to corrections officers, chronic short staffing is undermining the effective delivery of public services that New Mexicans across the state rely on. That’s why AFSCME launched the Staff the Front Lines initiative this year, to partner with elected officials on recruiting and retaining the essential workers who keep our communities running. The Staff the Front Lines bus will stop and hold recruitment events in more than 20 major cities across the country this summer.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said her administration is working hard to make sure New Mexico’s public service workers are well supported. She reeled off a list – good retirement, robust health care, free child care, access to universal early childhood education, a free college program, and more.

“This is creating opportunities so that front-line workers can follow their dreams, can get their training, can support public service and can be first responders,” she said. “And just wait until we kick off all of our affordable housing efforts. New Mexico can and will be the best place for workers in America.”


Several New Mexico state and local agencies were at the Staff the Front Lines hiring hall. Photo: Nick Voutsinos

Lt. Gov. Howie Morales thanked AFSCME workers for their service to the community and encouraged more New Mexicans to find public service careers at the hiring hall.

“There is no higher purpose than providing service to others,” he said. “For all those students who just graduated from high school looking for a job, you have all these booths right here ready to accept that and have you be part of that family.”

House Speaker Rep. Javier Martínez said the New Mexico legislature is committed to investing in public services.

“We are committed to continuing to build on this public sector that is so critical to so many New Mexicans across the state. It starts with the state budget: A budget that is reflective of our values as New Mexicans to ensure that you are paid what you are worth, to ensure you have access to the benefits that uplift your families. We also want to make sure that your retirement is safeguarded,” he said.

Calling Albuquerque an “AFSCME-run city,” Mayor Tim Keller said residents still need dedicated workers to provide services.

“With AFSCME’s help, we have made Albuquerque a great place to work. The city of Albuquerque has a $15 minimum wage, we’ve given 13% pay raises in aggregate over the last several years. …We also have paid sick leave,” Keller said. “We also know all across New Mexico, thanks to our state leadership, we have incredible benefits. Given all of that, Albuquerque desperately needs your help to fill these jobs.”

State and local leaders across the United States need to step up recruitment and retention efforts to bring in new workers and hold on to existing ones, said Connie Derr, executive director of Council 18 and an AFSCME vice president.

“America cut a bunch of important public service jobs during the Great Recession. Since then, our country’s population has grown by 10.5% but public service jobs only grew by 1%,” Derr said. “We need more qualified, compassionate heroes working in our communities, not less. But thanks to the amazing partnerships we formed with the elected officials here today, there has never been a better time to be a public service worker in New Mexico.”

Council 18 President Casey Padilla, a 24-year employee for the City of Albuquerque, said public service provides a path to the middle class for thousands of families in New Mexico.

“You might think two decades is a long time with one employer, but that’s common in public service,” Padilla said. “It is a career path that gives anyone the opportunity to grow and advance, no matter where you start.”

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