Academic Unionization

UNM faculty, excepting those in HSC and certain specific faculty ranks and roles, voted in October of 2019 to be represented by United Academics of UNM (UA-UNM). This vote makes UA-UNM the sole and exclusive representative of the represented faculty over matters of compensation, benefits, and the terms and conditions of employment as we subsequently define them in a collective bargaining process. While NM law (Public Employees Bargaining Act, 10-7E-17(J)(2)) requires that the details of the bargaining sessions be kept closed and confidential — an important practice as the give and take and compromise of negotiations proceeds — we will keep the UNM community informed to the extent possible through this webpage.

We appreciate working with the representatives of UA-UNM to further our shared goals of supporting faculty in their essential work in scholarship, research, creative production, teaching, and service to New Mexican communities.  As we do so, we are working together in accomplishing UNM’s mission, providing value to our students, creating new knowledge to further humanity, and striving to be good stewards of the resources afforded to us by the citizens of New Mexico and the families of our learners.


UNM and UA-UNM engaged in their first session of collective bargaining on January 14, 2020 Sessions have continued since that time at a generally regular pace, with some disruption owing to COVID-19 and the need to move sessions into an online format. As of November 11, 2020, we have engaged in over 24 bargaining sessions with UA-UNM. We have also entered into impact bargaining sessions over the effect on faculty working conditions of UNM decisions, policies, and practices put into place as a response to COVID.

The UNM Provost is the ultimate decision maker for the UNM administration on bargaining.  The provost, in consultation with the president and other UNM officials, including the president’s leadership team and UNM deans, is setting the parameters of bargaining for the UNM bargaining team.   This team consists of:

  • Nicole Dopson, Director of Financial Operations
  • Kevin Gick, Associate University Counsel
  • Rick Goshorn, Director of Business Operations, UNM-Valencia
  • Dina Holcomb, Attorney at Law
  • Kathryn Jacobson, Associate Dean, Anderson School of Management
  • Laura Musselwhite, Dean of Instruction, UNM-Valencia
  • Mark Peceny, Dean of Arts & Sciences
  • Barbara Rodriguez, Senior Vice Provost
  • Emma Rodriguez, Associate University Counsel
  • Mahmoud Taha, Chair of Civil Engineering

The major goal of our negotiations with UA-UNM is the development of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which will address matters of compensation, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment for the members of the two bargaining units (designated as Unit 1 and Unit 2 by UA-UNM).  The precise matters on which we will bargain is itself a subject of bargaining, and the CBA will be organized into articles that enumerate these matters.   Some of the articles that can be expected to be in the CBA are

  • Union rights
  • Management rights
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Disciplinary processes
  • Grievance procedures

There will be other matters that we address, some of which are required to be bargained at the request of either party, and some of which UA-UNM and UNM must mutually agree to include.  There are of course limits on what we can bargain, as we cannot bargain items that are contrary to state or federal law, such as language that would contradict the university’s legal obligations under Title IX and its required process in investigating claims of sexual harassment.  There are also many topics which have an economic impact on the university which are difficult to address during the financial uncertainties caused by the pandemic and the unknown impact of the upcoming Legislative session.

The UNM administration is mindful that some of these matters overlap provisions of the UNM Faculty Handbook, which applies both to members of the bargaining units, and to faculty who are not in the bargaining units.  The Faculty Handbook also contains provisions that are certainly matters of shared governance, but certainly not terms and conditions of employment, such as student disciplinary processes, or the missions of branch campuses.  We are therefore being very thoughtful about the relationship of the CBA and the Faculty Handbook.  Once an issue is part of the CBA, it cannot be changed by any process other than a negotiation between UA-UNM and the UNM administration, effectively removing the Faculty Senate from its role in these matters, and replacing it by a different process in which the fiduciary responsibility of one party is focused on the two bargaining units and excludes a large number of non-union faculty.  Our philosophy is therefore to have a CBA that addresses the key matters of compensation and essential terms and conditions of employment, but does not become overly broad or remove agency from our existing faculty governance systems.

This approach to bargaining is, of course, the approach of UNM.  The other party in the negotiation, UA-UNM can legitimately have a different philosophy, and we must bargain towards a mutually agreed common ground.   This can take time, as we negotiate not only the details, but find the best ways to understand each other’s concerns and create the common ground on which to proceed.