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FAQs

General FAQs

The University of New Mexico continues its commitment to a model of shared governance and academic freedom, which includes open lines of direct communication with faculty on the issues that are most important to them and offers a platform for the perspectives and voices of our talented and diverse researchers and scholars. We hope to continue working directly with all of our faculty members on these matters going forward because, in our view, the University community – comprised of its faculty, staff, and students – is in the best position to address these issues, including matters such as governance, compensation, and professional opportunities.

That being said, the University respects the legal rights of faculty to determine whether or not to relinquish to a union their existing rights to work directly with the University on their compensation, terms of appointment, benefits, working conditions and, possibly, shared governance. This is an important decision that can have a profound impact on all faculty, whether or not they are determined to be part of a bargaining unit, and on our entire University community. We urge all faculty members who are part of either of the two proposed bargaining units to fully inform themselves by reviewing all relevant information available to them – including information about their current terms and conditions of employment, about the UA-UNM, and about the collective bargaining process itself – and then to cast a ballot based on a personal assessment of what is in his or her best interest. To assist faculty members in this endeavor, the University is committed to ensuring that all have access to sufficient factual information that will enable informed and reasoned decision-making. Again, the University encourages all faculty to seek as much information as possible, ask questions, explore the pros and cons of unionization and thoroughly examine the associated complex issues.

Yes. Every faculty member who is eligible to vote should do so. Review all of the information available to you and ask questions. This is a decision about your future and the future of UNM.

Union Organizing Process

Two possible bargaining units are under consideration in the two election votes, which includes all of the branch campuses as well as central campus:

  1. Continuing Faculty Unit: Faculty employees with the titles Professor; Associate Professor; Assistant Professor; Professor of Practice; Research Professor; Research Associate Professor; Research Assistant Professor; Research Lecturer; Lecturer I, II and III; Senior Lecturer I, II and III; Principal Lecturer I, II and III; Research Lecturer I, II and III; Senior Instructor; and Instructor.
  2. Adjunct Faculty Unit: adjunct faculty employees, including term teaching faculty.

Managers, supervisors, confidential employees, and probationary employees are prohibited by the New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act and UNM Labor Management Relations Resolution from joining a bargaining unit.  For this reason, faculty with the titles: Provost, Senior Vice Provost, Associate Provost, Deputy Provost, Dean, Associate Dean, Assistant Dean, Department/Division Chairs, Academic Directors are not in either proposed bargaining unit.  All Visiting Faculty and Working Retirees are also excluded.

Note that no faculty with primary appointments in HSC are in either bargaining unit.  This was a choice of the union.

Lists of the faculty in each of these groups will be posted on this site by Monday, September 30. Note that under agreement reached by UNM and the union before the Labor Management Relations Board, those employed effective August 30, 2019 are used to establish the eligible voters.  Those contesting their absence on the list should write to the Labor Management Relations Board agent at unmlaborboard@comcast.net.  They can also cast a “contested” ballot at the balloting place, which the Board will then evaluate during the vote count.

The union requested this inclusion, and after bargaining between the union and UNM in front of the UNM Labor Management Relations Board, the Board ultimately decided that this inclusion of research faculty would remain.  

Both UNM and the UA-UNM will have a position as to whether you, as a faculty member, are an appropriate member of the bargaining unit. The University and the UA-UNM may agree on that issue, or we may not. Ultimately, the Labor Board determines whether you are a member of the bargaining unit.

Yes, but not easily. Unions do not stand for reelection each year. Once a contract is agreed upon, decertification is barred during the life of a contract of three years or less and for the first three years of a contract longer than three years. It is extremely rare for a union to be decertified once the first collective bargaining agreement has been negotiated.

However, the law does provide a mechanism for holding another election to determine if the bargaining unit members still wish to be represented by a union. In order to have such an election to decertify a union, the employees in the unit must themselves file a decertification petition with the Board, along with a 30 percent showing of interest, just as in the certification process. The Board would then process the petition and hold another election.

Unionization in the Workplace

If the Board, after an election, certifies the union it first and foremost means the union is authorized to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement for the employees in the bargaining unit, on all matters involving wages, benefits, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. It means that the University must engage with the union on all such matters, and your Department Chair or Program Manager may no longer deal with you individually with respect to the terms and conditions of your employment.

The literature on this question is complex, reflecting the fact that it is difficult to show cause and effect relationships between unionization and salary for faculty, especially when all related variables are accounted for.   The Documents and Correspondence section of this website has a list of papers on faculty unionization, including the ones mentioned below that explore econometric analyses of the impact of unionization on compensation.

 

A 2012 analysis by the AAUP (Academe Vol 98) presented descriptive statistics that unionized faculty at public doctoral universities earned 2.6% less than their non-unionized colleagues.  This report hypothesized this lower salary for union faculty was due to insufficient “density” of unionization, but no statistical modeling was done to test this hypothesis.  This study does very clearly show that multiple factors impact faculty compensation, and the research intensity of the institution is one of these many factors.  Several papers have explored this question in more depth, accounting for these variables.

 

Barbezat (Industrial & Labor Relations Review, Vol 42, 1989) performed a regression analysis of unionization wage benefits, showing these to be less than 2% overall in her 1970’s dataset, and also clearly revealed the importance of controlling for institutional type, in alignment with the 2012 AAUP data that R1 universities do not show a union wage premium.   More interesting in Barbezat’s results was the demonstration that in unionized faculty ranks, seniority was a more important determinant of salary than were measures of academic achievement such as articles or book publication. 

 

Rees (Journal of Labor Research, Vol 14, 1993) explored the union wage differential using salary data from the 1980s, and did not control or separate research universities in the analysis, but did separate 2-year/4-year institutions, showing a smaller union wage effect for 4-year schools relative to 2-year schools.  However Rees also noted a likely bias in this result owing to unobserved factors positively correlated with both unionization and wages.  By estimating the magnitude of this bias, Rees concluded that the influence of unionization on salaries at 4-year schools was negative, showing salaries 1.3% less than at non-unionized 4-year schools.  Responding directly Rees’ observation of very small union impact on wages, Tullock (Journal of Labor Research, Vol XV, 1994) offers a theoretical explanation for why this should be so, founded on the inability of a university to differentiate its sources of funding based on the presence or absence of a union, unlike private sector industrial firms.

 

A very extensive study of faculty union wage premiums was conducted by Hedrick et al. (Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol 64, 2011), considering only liberal arts colleges, comprehensives, and doctoral granting universities.  This study explored institution specific factors, including institutional type, location, etc., that could be responsible for bias in the results, as well as explicitly accounting for regional cost-of-living differences, state legal environments, etc., and also considering base salary vs. total compensation, all using individual faculty data from 1988-2004.  Most importantly, Hedrick and coauthors include a faculty level variable to denote which faculty are under a collective bargaining agreement, and which not, since at some universities with a faculty union only some faculty are in the bargaining unit.  This controls for the “union density” that the 2012 AAUP study hypothesizes.  Accounting for all these factors, Hedrick et al. concluded the union wage premium to be statistically insignificant (effectively zero).

Yes. Anyone employed in a classification included within the bargaining unit would be represented exclusively by the union and be subject to the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the University and the union.

Under New Mexico law, you are not required to pay union dues. Nobody can force you to do so as a condition of your employment. However, if the union is elected as your representative and you do not pay union dues you likely will have no voice in what terms and conditions of employment the union negotiates on your behalf.

Dues will vary considerably from union to union. Some unions will charge between 1-2% of your salary each year. Others will charge you a flat amount per pay period. Unions revisit dues and raise them from time to time.

Basics of Collective Bargaining

At some point, the union and the University would engage in collective bargaining for a contract, called a collective bargaining agreement, covering all the employees in the bargaining unit.

It is the process by which an employer and a union negotiate wages, benefits, hours and other terms and conditions of employment for the group represented by the union. 

If the faculty were to elect union representation, in our research university environment, UNM would expect to propose during collective bargaining that the parties’ collective bargaining agreement  include provisions that would systematically foster excellence in research, teaching, client service, community engagement, and global engagement—including merit pay for demonstrated excellence, capacity to make retention offers to excellent faculty, etc.  Such provisions are uncommon in collective bargaining agreements, and could only be included in the collective bargaining agreement  if the union would agree to them. UNM believes the absence of such provisions would undercut our ability to foster excellence as a research university and compete nationally for faculty talent.

Yes and no. The law requires that the parties negotiate a grievance procedure that culminates in final and binding arbitration. Otherwise, the law only requires that each side engage in good faith negotiations over the terms and conditions of employment. Bargaining in good faith does not require either party to agree to a proposal or to make a concession.  

Each union is its own entity with its own policies, priorities, officers, and internal politics, and each union makes its own decisions regarding these and related questions. We encourage you to learn as much as you can about how the UA-UNM would handle these issues.

No.  There are no guarantees in collective bargaining, nor is there a time limit to bargaining.  The process of collective bargaining involves good faith negotiation over proposals by both sides.  The law does not require the University to agree to any demands of the union.  The outcome of bargaining is uncertain.

If the union is certified, New Mexico law requires the University to bargain in good faith with the union representative(s) on wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. Merit or equity pay increases would likely be mandatory subjects of bargaining and would have to be negotiated between the University and the union. The University would not be permitted to have direct dealings with employees concerning mandatory subjects of bargaining. Nor could the University unilaterally implement changes to the status quo on mandatory subjects of bargaining, such as giving individual faculty differentiated pay increases, unless an established policy expressly authorizes pay adjustments (for example, for retention purposes). This means faculty may have to wait for the University and the union to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement  before they will see any change in their pay.

The law further provides that collective bargaining agreements must contain a grievance resolution procedure culminating in final and binding arbitration of disputes. This usually requires disputes to be decided by an arbitrator selected by the University and the union. The arbitrator would likely be an individual from outside of the University who may have no experience in academia. Thus, the arbitrator may or may not be familiar with shared governance, tenure rights or other terms and conditions of employment for faculty at a major research university like UNM.

Yes. If the union is certified, the University administration would have a duty to engage exclusively with the union concerning decisions pertaining to pay, hours, and working conditions. In other words, academic administrators would no longer be able to have direct interactions with individual faculty on these subjects. 

If the parties fail to reach an agreement, and impasse is declared, either party may request mediation assistance. If the impasse continues after 30 calendar days, either party may request arbitration. The arbitrator shall render a final, binding, written decision resolving unresolved issues no later than 30 calendar days after the arbitrator has been notified of his or her selection by the parties. The arbitrator’s decision shall be limited to a selection of one of the two parties’ complete, last, best offer. In the event an impasse continues after the expiration of a contract, the existing contract will continue in full force and effect until it is replaced by a subsequent written agreement. In determining which of the parties’ last, best offer to select, arbitrators are prohibited by the New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act and UNM Labor Management Resolution from requiring the University to re-appropriate or reallocate funds.

The subjects of collective bargaining are wages, hours, and conditions of employment. The insertion of a union between you and your Department Chair or Program Manager may potentially limit direct exchanges concerning issues of importance to you. How much direct “voice” you would be allowed would depend upon the terms of a potential collective bargaining agreement. For example, workload may be governed by the collective bargaining agreement in a way that limits the discretion of a Department Chair or Program Manager to appoint you to teach the course load you would like to teach.

The UA-UNM has expressed an interest in negotiating over matters of faculty governance.  The extent to which this might happen or impact faculty governance is not knowable until a union is certified, organizes its own officers, and formally establishes its bargaining positions.

In areas where faculty governance is involved in dispute resolution, NM labor law does require some change in our governance process.  A dispute resolution process that ends in binding arbitration is required, and this is typically arranged by an external, neutral, professional arbitrator who would not generally be a academic or faculty member.

Unions typically are not involved in broader issues related to educational policy, such as admissions requirements, degree requirements and confirmation, curricular changes, and academic program changes. These matters continue to be part of the legislative functions of the Faculty Senate. But, on disputes such as workload, pay, and the manner in which grievances are processed, the union’s statutory authority as the exclusive representative of the faculty would likely supersede the rights of the Faculty Senate in regard to these mandatory subjects of bargaining that are negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement .

Under New Mexico law, faculty who are in a bargaining unit at a public university do not have the right to strike.  Strikes are explicitly prohibited under the New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act and UNM Labor Management Relations Resolution.

Communication and Access

No. Union officials are not allowed to disrupt or interfere with faculty performing their normal work activities. This does not preclude making space available for meetings involving union officials in the same manner as any other requests for meeting rooms for non-departmental activities or purposes.

When unions seek to represent faculty, union officials and faculty supportive of union representation often approach faculty in classrooms at the end of class, in their offices and sometimes even at home. Obviously, discussions about union representation must not interrupt classroom instruction, laboratory exercises or faculty office hours. Outside of those settings, faculty are free to decide whether they want to engage in these discussions. New Mexico law leaves this decision to each individual faculty member.

 

Yes. Federal law required the University to give the union your name and business contact information.  The union is suing for personal home addresses and private phone contact information. The University’s position is that it has an obligation to protect the privacy of faculty members and therefore objects to the union’s demand for home addresses, personal emails and cell phone numbers. UNM has not used any such information to contact affected faculty about the upcoming election on October 16-17 nor does it intend to do so. The union is free to contact you before the election - if you do not want to be contacted by union organizers, you can tell them so when they reach out to you.

Not that we are aware of.  The union will typically move to elect officers and create its own formal internal governance structure after a successful vote to unionize.  This gives those members of the proposed bargaining unit who elect to participate in the organizational work of the union the opportunity to weigh in on these issues. 

For information about the union please visit their website.

UNM asked for a later voting date in November, and the union argued for an earlier date in September.  The UNM Labor Management Relations Board compromised between these two possibilities.

Negotiation and compromise between the UNM and union will be a standard procedure in negotiating with a union over a contract.


Ealier FAQs

Union Organizing Process

The New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act (NMSA 1978, § 10-7E-1 et. seq.) and UNM Labor Management Relations Resolution allow a union to be certified when, at the close of a comprehensive organizing process, a labor union representative demonstrates a showing of majority interest by employees in the proposed bargaining unit. To become certified by the UNM Labor Management Relations Board (“the Board”), a union has to file a petition for representation with the Board seeking an election in an appropriate unit of employees.

When filing a petition for an election, a union must demonstrate a "showing of interest" that at least 30 percent of the employees in the proposed unit are interested in having the union represent them. Once a union submits a sufficient showing of interest, the employer is given the opportunity to submit its position on the union’s proposed bargaining unit. The employer may take this opportunity to dispute the composition of the proposed bargaining unit as improper for a number of reasons, including that the employees identified for bargaining are legally barred from membership in a union because they are management, supervisory, confidential, or probationary, or otherwise do not meet the statutory definition of “public employee.” The employer can also challenge the composition of the proposed bargaining unit because the employees identified for membership do not share a sufficient “community of interest” with each other.

After the employer submits its petition, the Board is tasked with addressing any disputes regarding the composition of the bargaining unit as proposed to determine what the appropriate bargaining unit(s) might be. These disputes can be addressed through negotiations by the parties or through a formal hearing process. Once these disputes are addressed, the employer and union may proceed to an election process whereby the members of the proposed unit vote on whether to have the union represent them.

Yes. The UNM Labor Management Relations Resolution provides that “Public employees, other than management, supervisory, confidential, and probationary employees, may form, join or assist a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining through representatives chosen by public employees without interference, restraint or coercion. Employees also have the right to refuse to form, join, or assist any labor organization.” However, once a union is certified as the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit, the union represents everyone in a position within the bargaining unit. This means that every employee who holds an employment position that is identified as being in the bargaining unit will be subject to whatever collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is reached between the Union and UNM.

Pursuant to the New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act and the UNM Labor Management Relations Resolution, the University will retain the right to direct the work of, hire, promote, assign, transfer, discipline, or terminate Union members; determine Union members’ qualifications for employment and the nature and content of personnel examinations; take actions that may be necessary to carry out the mission of UNM in emergencies; and all other rights not specifically limited by acollective bargaining agreement or the PEBA. However, many other terms and conditions of employment would be subject to negotiation with the Union.