The University of New Mexico teacher’s union, “United Academics” of UNM, along with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) New Mexico, are picketing on Wednesday from noon to 1:00 p.m. at the university for higher wages despite just being given a six percent raise bump.
But the raise was not enough for the militant unions, which are now demanding a “living wage” and scoffing at the six percent raise as not “real.”
AFT New Mexico wrote, “Are you fired up about the fight for a living wage? It’s time to make your voice heard! Join @UA_UNM for a Living Wage Rally to show we won’t stand for low wages! Together, let’s show our strength and commitment.”
A signup sheet for the picket claims, “Thousands of UNM employees, including hospital workers, faculty, graduate workers, facilities workers, and staff, struggle to make ends meet every day living on wages that often fall below the federal poverty line. The UNM Regents need to ensure that staff and educators (who are bringing up the next generation of New Mexicans, producing research advancements, and ensuring our university’s day-to-day functions) are paid a dignified wage!”
In July 2022, UNM raised its minimum hourly wage for staff employees increased to $15. The average salary estimate for a UNM employee is around $21.29 per hour or $44,277 annually, according to data from August 2022.
The university’s guiding principles regarding salaries state that “[q]uantifiable, objective measures are used to evaluate the success of the University’s Compensation program over time.” The program notes some key factors in its pay adjustments include rewarding “individual excellence and promote employee growth and development” and promoting “fair and equitable compensation of its staff employees at all organizational levels.”
The minimum wage of $15 an hour and competitive salaries for UNM workers aren’t enough to appease the unions, which are now moving the goalposts for a “living wage.” The unions have not said what salary number they are looking for to achieve the so-called living wage.
According to MIT’s living wage calculator, for a single adult in Albuquerque, New Mexico, one would be making $15.97. The $15 minimum wage plus a six percent increase, as set by UNM, essentially matches this figure. However, it appears the unions want an even higher salary than a “living wage.”