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American Federation of Teachers New Mexico Celebrates Certification of Healthcare Unit at Sandoval Regional Medical Center

Healthcare Workers Ready to Bargain Patient-Focused Contract

January 19, 2023

Albuquerque – American Federation of Teachers New Mexico (AFT NM) President Whitney Holland, emergency room registered nurse Jennifer Heckwine, and radiology technologist Crystal Heredia Melendez issued the following statements to mark the certification of union recognition cards by the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board (NMPELRB):

“After a long eight months, today, we are celebrating the certification of a new unit of healthcare workers at Sandoval Regional Medical Center, which is a part of the University of New Mexico’s hospital system. Organized under the Public Employees Bargaining Act, these frontline heroes now have a greater voice in their workplace to advocate for their patients and profession.

“The United Health Professionals of New Mexico have overcome a relentless barrage of stall tactics, litigation, and intimidation, but these workers have withstood each of these obstacles placed in front of them. I am incredibly proud of each worker at Sandoval Regional Medical Center who displayed courage and tenacity during this organizing campaign – you personify unionism in action by standing together and creating space for your voices to be heard,” said Holland.

“This certification means I can fight for better care for my patients without fear of retaliation. We look forward to negotiating a strong contract that will recruit, retain, and respect our profession,” said Heckwine.

“I’m so excited that transparency and quality patient care will finally be at the forefront at my hospital, and I can’t wait to be part of that change,” said Heredia Melendez.

“While we still have much work to do, today could not have been possible with the support of New Mexico Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart and New Mexico House Representative Christine Chandler for carrying legislation which granted the right for these healthcare workers to form a public sector union. Now is the time for Sandoval Regional Medical Center and the University of New Mexico to cease their unending efforts to deny these public healthcare workers their voice and come to the bargaining table to produce a strong patient- and practitioner-focused contract,” continued Holland.


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