SFR just got a call from AFSCME Council 18 Executive Director Lawrence Rodriguez, who says the union, which represents state, county and municipal employees, has filed a complaint against Gov. Susana Martinez in New Mexico Supreme Court.
"The governor fired the state Public Employee Labor Relations Director and then, right after that, she fired the state [Public Employees] Labor Relations Board," Rodriguez says. "Without [them], no disputes, no grievances, no contract negotiations can continue without that board, so in essence she's put organized labor or collective bargaining on hold."
SFR asked Rodriguez if the governor's office had given any justification for the firings.
"No," he says. "I think pretty much, a good way to say it is that it's political."
A call and an email to the governor's office were not immediately returned. AFSCME is the latest in a line of organizations, including the New Mexico Environmental Law Center and the Sierra Club, that have taken legal action against the governor in the state's highest court.
Update 1:00 pm: At today's press conference, Shane Youtz, the attorney for AFSCME Council 18 and several other local union councils, railed against Gov. Martinez' decision to fire the labor director and board.
Under state law, unions have the right to seek redress on behalf of wronged employees, Youtz said, but the firings mean they're currently unable to do so.
"We don't now have a place to go to have a remedy if an employer decides not to treat a [public employee] fairly," Youtz told a handful of reporters outside the New Mexico Supreme Court building in Santa Fe.
Union leaders present at the conference said they had attempted to contact the governor's office regarding the lawsuit but had not received a response.
New Mexico Federation of Labor AFL-CIO President Christine Trujillo tells SFR she sees evidence of behind-the-scenes politicking.
"I think [Martinez] is taking her instructions from the national Republican agenda," Trujillo says. "It's happened all over the country--Ohio, Indiana and of course Wisconsin. She's just been a little more subtle."
In filing the complaint, Trujillo says, "We believe we've nipped in the bud in terms of exposing that effort."
"She's not as naive as you think in terms of union-busting," Trujillo says, adding that Martinez' office has made calls to smaller union chapters, encouraging them to nominate replacements for the Labor Relations Board.
"We're very upset," Trujillo says. "She's using her position as a way to undermine the law."
SFR's call this morning and a subsequent email to Martinez' communications director, Scott Darnell, have not yet been returned.