AFSCME Council 18

Hidalgo County Public Safety Employees Form Union

Hidalgo County Public Safety Employees have voted unanimously to form a union. AFSCME becomes the exclusive bargaining representative for Hidalgo County Public Safety Personnel. The March 21 secret ballot election, held at the Ena Mitchell Senior Citizen Center in Lordsburg, was run by the State of New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board.

Employees gathered 90% of their co-worker’s signatures on a petition triggering the election. Local Union leaders will next request dates to sit down with County management and bargain a contract spelling out terms and conditions of employment for employees.

County Sheriff’s Deputies, Dispatchers, Detention Officers, and Corporal Detention Officers who are NOT probationary, managerial, confidential, or supervisory will be protected by that contract once it is ratified by members and adopted by the county commission.

Employees built a union to ensure their voice would carry added strength as the County wrestles with serious issues regarding health and safety, wages, and management accountability. Of special concern is the recent loss of federal dollars enabling the County to house undocumented immigrants and rumors that the county jail could be privatized.

Local leaders are optimistic about the future. “Now that we’ve gotten this union going, we’re going place ALL the issues on the table. Employees need to be heard. I’m committed to improving things for Hidalgo County,” said Corporal Detention Officer Amanda Wolf.

There is popular belief that County Management has taken care of their own at the expense of public safety employees creating a divisive work environment.

AFSCME Representative Rob Trombley framed concerns, “Policies that are supposed to be followed are ignored. We want to make sure that new staff are going onto the job with more training. Understaffing is an issue already, Hidalgo County needs to retain long serving career employees, they have the skills and experience necessary to manage dangerous situations and mentor the next generation.”

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