Now that this year’s New Mexico legislative session has come to a close, AFSCME members in that state are able to celebrate a hard-fought victory – raises for all state employees.
Members of AFSCME Council 18 were successful in reminding legislators throughout the session, which ended Feb 15, of the vital services that state employees provide and in making the case that modest salary increases were long overdue. Their hard work paid off.
At the start of the 30-day legislative session, the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) – a panel that makes budgetary recommendations to state lawmakers – proposed a 1.5 percent raise for all state workers, in contrast to Gov. Susana Martinez’s initial proposal of a 1 percent salary increase.
Both the LFC and the Martinez proposals called for additional funding for public safety, including AFSCME corrections officers and probation and parole officers.
After public service workers, who joined together under AFSCME advocated for the communities they serve through phone calls and lobbying, the House and Senate agreed to a 2 percent raise for all state employees, with an additional 6.5 percent for corrections, probation and parole officers. A few other public service workers, such as public defenders, nurses and social workers, also secured higher wage increases.
The increases came despite Martinez’s attempts to reduce the across-the-board raise down to 1 percent by pitting public safety workers against other state employees and educational employees. But working people stuck together and stopped those efforts.
“Over the past eight years, for many of us, raises have been too few and far between,” said Nick Merton, secretary-treasurer of Local 1211 and a tax auditor for the state. “This can help teach us and serve as a clear example that the people we elect to government have a very real and direct effect on our lives and our ability to care for our families.”