American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly and New Mexico Highlands University Faculty Association Co-President Kathy Jenkins released the following statements:
“AFT New Mexico and the New Mexico Highlands University Faculty and Staff Association have successfully reversed a January 2017 order of the University’s Labor-Management Relations Board that had denied the rights of Grant Funded employees to organize into their own bargaining unit. Make no mistake, this is a significant victory for workers at Highlands University.
“Yesterday, the Fourth Judicial District Court, hearing the case on appeal, modified its prior ruling from May 23, and confirmed that Grant Funded employees have the right to organize. The district court had ruled in May that the proposed bargaining unit had the right to seek certification, but the Court had reservations about the appropriateness of the unit. On Monday, the Court rescinded its analysis about the appropriateness of the proposed bargaining unit, and the Court remanded the case back to the Labor Board. We are extremely pleased with the change in ruling, and will vigorously continue to advocate for each of these educational employees,” Ly said.
“The Court’s ruling validates the arguments we have been making since January 2017, which is that Grant Funded employees should be allowed to petition the Labor Board and be granted certification of an appropriate bargaining unit. We intend to invite the University to recognize the proposed unit(s) so that the employees may – after nearly two years – implement plans to form a bargaining unit and exercise their rights under the New Mexico Public Employee Bargaining Act and the NMHU Labor-Relations Ordinance to act in concert and bargain collectively to determine the terms and conditions of their employment in the workplace.
“This ruling hopefully brings an end to the University’s attempts to deny a voice to many of these long-term and valuable employees, and an end to the waste of taxpayer money that Highlands University has spent fighting their employees’ rights to organize. It is our firm belief that unions are for all workers, and this ruling brings us one step closer to that reality for Highlands University employees,” Jenkins said.