AFSCME Council 18

Santa Fe County is AFSCME Country! Santa Fe County Detention Facility Vote to Join AFSCME Council 18

Detention Center is 3rd Santa Fe County Group to Choose AFSCME

In a testament to the adage that workers in a tough job need a tough union, the 100+ corrections employees at the Santa Fe County Detention Facility voted to organize with AFSCME Council 18. The two-day election concluded at 7:00pm on June 12 and by 8:00pm, AFSCME was declared the winner.

The new unit joins SF Co Detention Medical Support Staff, who voted to join AFSCME earlier in the year.

The unit, consisting of detention officers in the adult and juvenile facilities, corporals, sergeants, booking clerks, teachers, therapists, case managers, electronic monitoring officers, and life skills workers, had been represented by the New Mexico Coalition of Public Safety Officers, a small independent association with a handful of public safety bargaining units. The workers sought AFSCME representation after the association repeatedly made decisions affecting the employees but without their knowledge or input.

“The management of the detention center were very 'hands-on' in this election,” said Connie Derr, executive director of AFSCME Council 18, “which is a clear violation of the Public Employee Bargaining Act. We raised our concerns on several occasions with the county administration, but they made no attempt to rectify the matter. Instead of filing formal labor board charges, AFSCME and the organizing committee knew there was enough support to win the election outright. And that is exactly how it turned out.”

In a last ditch effort to win the election, the association tried to split up the workers by negotiating a raise for some job titles while leaving other job titles out in the cold. The contract, negotiated in record speed and in secret, was a carrot and stick approach by the association to win votes.

Officers were promised the raise, but only if they would vote for the association. However, the county administration confirmed that the monies appropriated will be available for whichever union prevailed in the election.

Among the strong organizing committee members is Daniel Solis. “Now it’s time to come together and be a family. That is what the effort has been about the entire time,” said Brother Solis. “We’ve brought in a union that will work with the officers, and make sure our voices are heard. AFSCME came through, they stood with us all the way.”


Council 18 President Patrick Gutierrez, who served as the union’s observer in the vote count, echoed Solis’ statements, “AFSCME Council 18 is tremendously pleased that the Santa Fe County Detention Facility officers are now part of our strong union. Together, the officers will now have the tough union they deserve.”

Rob Trombley, Council 18’s public safety coordinator, said, “We’re anxious to get to the negotiating table. The existing contract has glaring deficiencies. We’re looking forward to reclaiming workers’ rights which were lost during previous negotiations. Our priority is safety and the well-being of our officers.”

SFCO Detention Officers & AFSCME Organizing Committee Members: (L to R) Daniel Solis, Terry Johnson, Ruben Ortiz

With more than 80% of the employees voting in the election, Thomas Griego, the executive director of the Public Employee Labor Relations Board, acknowledged that it was an unusually high turnout.

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