|AFSCME Council 18|
(Political Update #6) 1st Annual Red & Green Rally Tackles NM True Working Family Issues
State Employee Union Members Rally at Roundhouse: Call for Return to Reason in State Politics
AFSCME and CWA Union Members Say Skinny Winter Doesn’t Justify Neglect of Public Services Needs
Santa Fe, NM – On Saturday, February 6th, working people from across the state gathered for a rally at the Roundhouse. Over 100 union members rallied and called on legislators to invest in the people and services that make New Mexico run. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Communications Workers of America (CWA) members highlighted the direct impact that state workers have on the wellbeing of New Mexico communities.
Following the rally, AFSCME and CWA members lobbied legislators at the Roundhouse to tell their stories and engage them directly around the issues that matter to New Mexico families.
“Our members are responsible for supporting the health, education, safety, and environmental protection of New Mexico’s working families,” said Donald Alire, President of CWA 7076. “In order to provide taxpayers with the high level of service they deserve, our elected leaders must make public services and public employees a priority in the state budget. Anything less is a short-sighted failure to invest in our state’s future.”
“We know that our union allies, like Senator Michael Sanchez, and Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, are coming under vicious attack in the media, but for what?” Casey Padilla, Council 18 President and rally emcee, asked the crowd. “So many of the bills gaining traction in the Republican controlled House simply don’t help New Mexico workers. We have the truth, the facts, and the studies. We know that Governor Martinez and Representative Nate Gentry’s agenda isn’t about helping all of us, it’s about hauling a lot of us off.”
Padilla referred to a number of bills, including HB200, the bill rescinding the state’s existing prevailing wage law. Working New Mexicans have pushed back and reminded legislators that the numbers they’re shopping represent actual wages being taken out of workers’ pockets and would result in a 30% pay cut for local construction workers.
Robert Gabaldon, Sargeant and AFSCME President of the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility Local detailed conditions inside the state’s largest public prison. “For a New Mexico CO, sometimes one day can last a few days. The 72 hour work week means going home after 16 hours on post, catching a meal with the family, maybe running a few errands, and then heading back for another 16 hour shift. Sleep doesn’t happen every night. We’re digging deep to remain alert and maintain protocols. It takes a toll on your health and your family.”
New Mexico correctional officer pay is not competitive with surrounding state or NM county facilities. Corrections cabinet secretary Gregg Marcantel told a legislative finance committee in late 2015 that he was competing with McDonald's on wages to recruit new Officers.
Central New Mexico Corrections Officer, Jonenne Owens gave an emotional speech about safety inside the prison before leading a dozen AFSCME members into the Roundhouse to deliver over 900 petition signatures and testimonials from corrections workers detailing the danger they face every day inside the prison facilities due to high vacancies.
Corrections workers, health department employees, and other state agencies are contending with increasing vacancy levels and rapid turnover in recent years. During early years of the Martinez administration, the Governor refused to invest in the state and focused on cutting taxes for wealthy corporations. Those priorities didn’t create the jobs the Governor promised, and instead have left the state less safe, without the resources needed to invest in vital public services.
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