Back Pay Update
The New Mexico Court of Appeals issued a decision in favor of AFSCME and CWA on an important issue affecting wages for both state bargaining units. The decision affirms previous arbitration awards and a State District Court decision in the Unions’ favor requiring the State to issue back pay checks to employees in an unknown amount, but which is estimated to be in the $5 – $10 million range. Depending on where Union employees fall within their pay band, the back pay due could rise into the thousands.
The dispute arose when the State refused to pay wage increases agreed to by the parties. The Unions’ previous contracts with the State required a wage increase for Fiscal Year 2009. Claiming that the legislature did not appropriate the necessary money to fund those wage increases, the State paid its Union employees a smaller wage increase than what was called for in the collective bargaining agreement. The Unions grieved and arbitrated the State’s decision and arbitrators for AFSCME and CWA separately ruled that the legislature did appropriate sufficient funds to pay the agreed upon wage increase and ordered the State to retroactively increase the wage rates and back pay all Union employees working for the State. The State appealed these decisions in State District Court but lost again. The State appealed again, this time arguing their case before the New Mexico Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals issued its decision August 8, 2012 affirming the arbitrators’ awards.
Members may use the Raise Calculation Tool (Excel file) (thank you to CWA Local 7076 for creating this tool) on AFSCME18’s website to give you an idea of the percentage by which your 2008 wage increase was underfunded, and how much money you have coming should we prevail at the Supreme Court. You'll need to know your PAY Band and Hourly Pay Rate from 2008 to use the tool.
The State of New Mexico has the option to seek review by the New Mexico Supreme Court. We will keep you updated on the status of this very important case. While highly likely, Governor Martinez has yet to appeal the decision awarding our back pay to the NM High Court.