The IAM and American Federation of Teachers New Mexico (AFT NM) have filed a majority of union recognition cards with the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board (NMPELRB) for almost 500 frontline healthcare workers at Sandoval Regional Medical Center.

The campaign is also unique in that it is the first campaign in New Mexico to utilize a new state law that allows for card check, or majority sign-up, and recognition for public employees.

“I am proud to be organizing together with my fellow nurses and healthcare staff to form United Health Professionals of New Mexico, the first of its kind joint union under AFT NM and the IAM in New Mexico,” said emergency room Registered Nurse Jennifer Heckwine. “Our union will not only address the work we do as healthcare professionals, but also the quality service we can provide for our patients and community. We want to thank our community and patients for their steadfast support of our campaign.”

More than a year ago, the IAM and the AFT formed a partnership to jointly organize healthcare units throughout the United States. The two unions joined together through the IAM Organizing Department and the IAM Western Territory’s efforts to establish our first “pilot” program to organize the employees at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Sandoval Regional Medical Center, which had been a target for the AFT. Together, the IAM and AFT formed the United Health Professionals of New Mexico.

“United Health Professionals of New Mexico comprise many different types of healthcare workers, including registered nurses, respiratory therapists, clinical social workers, maintenance workers, food service workers, housekeepers, registration and clerks, security personnel, and many others – which represent the workers who ensure the hospital runs smoothly and provides the best quality care possible for our patients,” said Ashley Long, IAM Local 794 President and Directing Business Representative. “We are proud of each of these workers standing together, and we are committed to supporting this new union as it continues its efforts towards recognition and eventually an initial contract. We encourage the NMPELRB to certify this union without delay.”

“I congratulate these brave frontline healthcare workers for standing up for their rights and demanding equal treatment and respect that only a union contract can provide,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “This groundbreaking joint union will afford these workers the necessary resources to ensure they win this election and negotiate a fair and just first contract. I congratulate Local 794 President and Directing Business Representative Ashley Long and the staff at AFT for their successful partnership. The IAM Staff and the AFT staff worked diligently as well to bring us to this important juncture to provide justice on the job!”

“This successful and historic venture with two major unions is very unique in the labor movement for a long list of reasons,” said IAM Organizing Director Vinny Addeo. “After months of working together, the collaboration came to fruition with the filing of a petition through the state’s law granting card-check recognition. This is the very first test in using this law in New Mexico and the first of many successful organizing projects between the IAM and the AFT as we expand our partnership across the United States.”