UNM grad union holds picket to highlight university's resistance to including a non-discriminatory article
Members of the United Graduate Workers of UNM and community supporters held a picket Thursday morning to bring attention to the university’s resistance to include non-discriminatory protections in the graduate workers’ union contract.
Held in front of the same building where the negotiations were set to take place, the group gathered carrying signs and repeated chats aimed at the unfair working conditions they experienced while at UNM.
Alana Bock, who is a member of the bargaining committee for the union, said the picket is a way to show the UNM representatives that the union, and the community are behind them.
“We’ve been in negotiations with the university for a couple months now, and they’ve been fighting us on having stronger protections in our contract against non-discrimination. So we’re gathered here today to show the university that it’s not just the bargaining committee, but it’s our entire union and our community that thinks that we need a non-discrimination article, with greater protections in our contract.”
Leading up to the picket, the UNM Grad Workers’ Twitter account has been posting anonymous quotes from members of the union, highlighting individual experiences where they faced discrimination. Ranging from facility in certain departments being openly homophobic and transphobic, to experiences of abuse, hazing, and manipulation.
The Grad Workers’ Twitter account also said that UNM is arguing that a non-discrimination article would conflict with federal and state laws and that current Title IX and OEOs are sufficient. But a couple of the quotes on the account make reference to Title IX. With one stating that they believed the person filing their Title IX for them did not take them seriously enough, or another that said once they did file a report, they never heard anything back.
Bock said UNM has the bare minimum protections in place, simply because they have to. “When you ask them to do more, they unfortunately won’t do that. A lot of what they do is to protect themselves and not students, the workers, and the community on their campus.”
When the UNM representative arrived, the picket group came to greet them with shouts of “shame UNM”. The two lone UNM officials walked through the crowd quietly and into the building. Followed shortly thereafter by the union’s bargaining committee.
Bock hopes the showing of support at this morning’s picket shows the university that the barraging committee, the union, and the community are serious about having these protections, and other items like raises, training, and dental care in place when they eventually sign their contract.
“We’re going to keep fighting for all things that our members want to see in our new contract. This is just the first thing that we’re doing.”