By Gary Mitchell
PORTALES — A small group of pro-union state workers brought their cause to the area Wednesday evening at the Portales Public Library, urging fellow workers to join and add clout to its collective bargaining process.
A bill signed into law by Gov. Bill Richardson in March will put aside the current system critics say is antiquated and riddled with favoritism and allow members of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees to present an alternative employment contract.
“They’ve put the PAD (Performance/Appraisal/Development review system) on hold for four months, and the first day of the moratorium will be Friday,” said Rodney Mason, a member of AFSCME New Mexico Council 18 and a family assistance analyst with the Income Support Division of the New Mexico Human Services Department.
“It will affect all state employees, including those with Children, Youth & Families, Department of Labor, Probation and Parole, Juvenile Probation, Public Defender’s office and the Highway Department,” he said. “People will all be coming together to make things better for state employees.”
The union will present its proposals Aug. 13 in Santa Fe.
AFSCME will have 46 representatives from across the state at the meetings.
“We’ve wanted this for a long time,” Mason said. “Gov. (Gary) Johnson did away with it, but Gov. Richardson wanted it, and on March 7, he signed it into law — and we’ve been working on it since then.”
The union members have 120 days to create an alternative system to the PAD review plan, Mason said.
“Right at this time, we’re forming several alternatives,” he said. “We’re trying to weed out the favoritism in the system. Some of it is based on job performance and some of it is based on personal bias. Pay issues shouldn’t be in there. We need to know what our performance is and be appraised of it, but it shouldn’t have money as an issue (whether there should be a pay increase or not).”
“We would like to see our time in service (tenure) taken seriously,” said Terry Crane, also an AFSCME member and Income Support Division family assistance analyst. “We’d like the seniority issue looked at more seriously. When Bruce King was governor, there was cost of living raises, but now they’re cut out completely. All raises are performance-based. We’d like to see people who are not holding up their end of the bargain weeded out.”
Delores Urban, AFSCME member and senior family assistance analyst with Income Support Division, said the performance evaluations don’t take everything into consideration.
“When they do the evaluations, no consideration is given for extra caseloads,” she said. “It’s easier for them to give lower scores than to have to go to Santa Fe and justify any increases in pay.”
Workable caseloads are supposed to be 387 cases per worker, Crane said, “but we have had at times 750-1,000, but we didn’t get any consideration of that on our evaluations.”
When collective bargaining begins, the ramifications will affect all state employees, the workers say.
“That’s why we want to enlarge our membership, so they can have more say in these issues,” he said.
The group is also holding a moratorium rally to be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Clovis-Carver Public Library parking lot in Clovis.