Jackson Lewis and Higher Education Anti-Unionism

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

From 2008 to 2018, few professors at the University of New Mexico—whether tenured, or tenure-track, or adjunct—received wage increases greater than the cost of living. In most of those years, wages remained stagnant, while out-of-pocket costs for health insurance and retirement contributions increased. As a result, some professors, particularly those faculty who teach on semester-to-semester or short-term contracts, make less today than they did ten years ago. Median salaries for UNM faculty, already low at all ranks and dramatically low in comparison to similar universities, continue to shrink.

Last week, after years of on-campus organizing, UNM faculty—United Academics of the University of New Mexico—filed with the local labor board to form a faculty union. Nearly 1,000 faculty signed union authorization cards. If we win the election, the more than 1,700 faculty at UNM collectively bargain with UNM over wages and working conditions.

As any educator working in higher education knows, faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. The worse that things have gotten for faculty at UNM, the worse they’ve gotten for students. A decade of steep cuts to the academic mission at UNM has created a crisis in UNM’s ability to hire and retain faculty, educate students, conduct research, and serve the state of New Mexico as the flagship institution of higher learning. These cuts have convinced many faculty that UNM leadership…

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