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New Mexico irrigation workers organize with AFSCME Council 18

Photo credit: Getty Images
New Mexico irrigation workers organize with AFSCME Council 18
By AFSCME Council 18 ·
Tags: Momentum

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Irrigation workers at the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District in New Mexico have voted to form a union with AFSCME Council 18.


Irrigation systems operators, who overwhelmingly supported joining AFSCME last month, ensure that farmers, ranchers and homeowners have access to water. Their work includes maintaining ditches, operating water systems and working with the public. Workers cited compensation, fairness and respect on the job as major reasons for unionizing.


"This is a way to make sure we get compensated properly for all the work we do," said a senior irrigation systems operator, who didn’t want to be named for fear of workplace retaliation. "We make sure that farms get water so that they can grow all the crops we all eat. And we want to level the playing field and be treated fairly".


Connie Derr, Council 18’s executive director and an AFSCME vice president, said, "We're really excited to have the irrigation systems operators in AFSCME. The work they do is essential for all of us in New Mexico, and it's high time they get a voice at the table. We look forward to working with management to benefit both the services and those who provide those services."


This 35-worker unit is the second at Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District to organize with Council 18.  A unit of 110 equipment operators, welders, mechanics and field maintenance technicians voted to join together through AFSCME last October.


For the irrigation workers, the next steps are to vote on a bargaining team to negotiate a first contract with management.

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