AFSCME Council 18

(Political Update #10) The 'BIG' 2016 Legislative Summary and Next Steps to ACTION!

AFSCME members and retirees are breathing a sigh of relief after surviving another series of attacks by Republican Governor Susana Martinez and the Republican controlled House of Representatives in Santa Fe.

During the session, New Mexico Labor mobilized thousands of calls, letters, emails, and personal visits to key legislators to ensure that collective bargaining was protected. 

AFSCME members joined CWA members for the first annual  Red & Green Rally at the Roundhouse, on Saturday, February 6. Council 18 President Casey Padilla (pictured below) kicked-off the mid-morning rally by reminding the more than 200 members that “when union members are active, positive change happens!” 


Please send a quick word of thanks to our legislators in the House and the Senate who stood with working families this session! Sign a Thank You Petition here!

Labor leaders and legislators from around the state addressed the rowdy crowd. Every single speaker emphasized the importance of the 2016 elections. Jon Hendry, president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor, reminded the crowd that “the health of our communities, the rights of public employees, and the progress of the State of New Mexico depends on labor getting out the vote to support those who support New Mexicans.”

NMFL President Jon Hendry stressing the importance of the 2016 elections.

AFSCME members listen to speakers at the Red & Green Rally

Our New Mexico Legislative champions spent time visiting and listening to AFSCME membership concerns around delivery of public services during and after the rally.

Representative Moe Maestas (D - Albuquerque), who has always been a steadfast supporter of public employees, speaking with union members.

Representative Bill McCamley (D - Las Cruces) delivered a passionate speech calling for a return to reason at the legislature.

“We must improve the compensation system for state employees and employees in higher education,” said AFSCME Council 18 Executive Director Connie Derr, “but the special interests of this Governor and those who support her agenda is not moving New Mexico forward. Their actions will have consequences in the fall elections!”

AFSCME Council 18 Executive Director Connie Derr calling out the State Personnel Office for lack of transparency on a recruitment and retention plan.

Following the rally, the members sought out their elected leaders offices and called on them to invest in the people and services that make New Mexico run. Members highlighted the direct impact that state workers have on the wellbeing of New Mexico communities.

AFSCME members getting ready to lobby their elected leaders in the Roundhouse.

SUMMARY of 52nd Legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - Second Session 2016

There were dozens of bills, big and small, introduced that affected workers in the 2016 session. Given the sharp divide between Democratic, pro-worker Senate and the corporate GOP House and virulently anti-worker GOP Governor, the session predictably ended mostly in stalemate.

Please send a quick word of thanks to our legislators in the House and the Senate who stood with working families this session! Sign a Thank You Petition here!

Key takeaway: while workers were mostly protected this year, and even made some small gains, anti-worker forces are gearing up for a full Republican takeover of the legislature in 2016, meaning virtually all worker protections, benefits, pay, and even job security would be at risk beginning as soon as January 2017.

This session was a clear a wake-up call that without massive member and retiree mobilization in the summer and fall of 2016, workers stand to lose decades worth of victories. WITH member participation, we stand to enter into a new era of progress and can begin to make up for 6 years of neglect and abuse under the Martinez administration.


Most importantly, for the second year in a row the Democratic-controlled Senate killed so-called "right to work" legislation on a party line vote in the Senate Public Affairs Committee, with dozens of AFSCME members joining about 75 other union members in the committee room.


Two bad bills aimed to undermine the health of our pensions. One which would have reinstated double dipping for law enforcement and another which would have seized pensions from any public employee committing certain violations, each died with AFSCME's help.

THANK legislators who stood with us to protect our GREAT retirement system! Sign a Thank You here!

House Bill 171 (Rep. Larranaga, R-Albuquerque) sadly made it through the House, with many Republicans who had formerly been supportive of PERA deciding to curry political favor with Albuquerque's GOP Mayor R.J. Berry by supporting double dipping.

Virtually all Dems stood with AFSCME and our allies in the Albuquerque Police Officers Association in opposing the bill. Fortunately, we had a few Republican senators ready to join all the Dems in the Senate Public Affairs Committee to kill it, so the sponsors decided not to show up to present the bill. AFSCME testified in every committee in the House and rounded up nearly unanimous Democratic support on the House floor, and also testified in SPAC.

We were able to kill a second bad pension-related bill, House Bill 278 (Rep. Cook, R-Ruidoso). This bill had some merit, in that it would have stopped pension payments for elected officials convicted of crimes of corruption in the course of fulfilling their elected duties. However, it was far too broad as finally presented to the House floor, and would have imposed a massively disproportionate financial penalty to rank and file public employees for even one mistake.


As oil and gas prices plummeted, the once-promising surplus turned into a potentially devastating deficit. New Mexico would have been much better positioned to absorb a downturn in energy prices had Gov. Martinez and her conservative allies in the legislature not given hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare tax breaks over the last few sessions.

We were able to successfully protect legislative proposals in House Bill 2 (the budget bill) to increase public safety pay, including for Corrections, and to increase CYFD and Corrections staffing, but when the Governor and House Republicans start with a pay freeze for all other state employees even when there was a projected surplus, there was no chance of across-the-board raises once the surplus vanished.

Key take away: elections matter! Over the last four fiscal years, even when significant surpluses were projected, Republican legislators and Republican Governor Susana Martinez pushed for pay cuts or pay freezes for most all state and university employees. Elections matter, and have direct impacts on the wallets of AFSCME members!


Republican control of the governor's office and House ensured that there would be no discussion of a minimum wage increase for a sixth straight year. AFSCME and our community allies successfully blocked a terrible "pre-emption" bill (House Bill 211) that would have given a drastic pay cut to every worker earning minimum wage in those cities which have raised the minimum. The bill would have also prohibited cities and counties from passing rules requiring paid sick or vacation days, or enacting any other regulation to help workers.

Likewise, AFSCME joined with our sisters and brothers in the building trades to defeat a repeal of existing prevailing wage legislation (House Bill 200). HB200, or the “Paycheck Reduction Act” would’ve resulted in a 30% pay cut for our brothers and sisters in the construction trade.

In Unity!

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