Thursday, January 25, 2007

Vita Montaño, Library Manager, Speaks Out on NMSU Bargaining Stall

SEEKING JUSTICE – New Mexico State University workers
rally after delivering a petition to NMSU’s president
demanding wages comparable to workers at similar
universities.More than 100 employees of New Mexico State University marched this past month at the Las Cruces campus to demand raises that would put them on par with workers at comparable universities.

The non-exempt workers – custodial staff, librarians, housekeepers, groundskeepers and office support, among others – carried a 12-foot-wide banner supporting their call for a "first class pay raise" to the office of NMSU Pres. Michael Martin.

"We are going to try to lobby and try to be a voice up there," said Vita Montaño, library manager at Doña Ana Community College's East Mesa branch.

"I think it's very important that everyone knows that it would not only be a benefit to the non-exempt, but it would be a benefit to the community as a whole," Montaño said. "NMSU is supposed to be the second largest employer in Las Cruces, and if we cannot pay our employees here a decent wage and get decent raises then it affects the community as a whole."

Las-Cruces Sun-News reports:

AFSCME filed a complaint Wednesday[ 1/24/07] with New Mexico State University's labor board, alleging the university has refused to bargain over wages.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents 1,300 non-exempt university employees, filed a prohibited practices complaint stating that "the university has failed to bargain in good faith" over raises for the 2008 fiscal year.

"Once the employees voted to form a union, under the law the university is legally obligated now to bargain over things that it hasn't done in the past: pay, benefits, working conditions," said Dave Paladino, union spokesman. "We have a bargaining team of about 20 employees and they have submitted a pay proposal for the fiscal year 2008 and the university has not responded."

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