State Employees Rally For Telework Privileges
About 20 state employees held a rally at the Capitol on Thursday to protest the Return To Office or RTO mandate and to call for more hirings to lower high vacancy rates.
The employees spent their lunchtime holding signs on the West Atrium calling on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to rescind her return to office order and allow employees who are able to telework to keep doing so. The RTO order deadline was Thursday.
CWA Union President Dan Secrist told reporters during a press conference that the staffing crisis the Governor inherited from the Martinez administration is getting worse, and the state can no longer recruit and retain enough skilled workers.
He says banning telework is only making things worse.
“In 2021. CWA bargained a permanent, non-emergency, non-mandatory Telework Policy with this administration, which was precipitously canceled with an RTO dare for all state employees scheduled for (Thursday),” he said. “ This policy reversal is already resulting in lost applicants, resignations, early retirements and unsafe or unworkable conditions.”
Secrist also says some in the legislature are working to make things better for state employees.
Joint memorials have been filed to conduct a Classification and Compensation Study, the first since 2001.
Rep. Joy Garrett is sponsoring HB300 which would make reasonable telework options the law for state government employees.
In a statement, State Personnel Office Director Teresa Padilla said the state’s goal is to balance being a productive and flexible workplace with the needs of New Mexicans, which include being accessible and available to the public.
She continues that the return-to-office date for classified employees was pushed back from January 3rd to give them additional time to make any needed arrangements for returning to the office.
She adds while the remote work policy is no longer in effect, the state also continues to respond to any necessary ADA accommodations and the administration is committed to making the state a rewarding workplace.