October 13, 2016
Teachers in rural Clayton, New Mexico voted yesterday to begin collective bargaining with the Clayton School District, situated near the New Mexico state line with Oklahoma. The vote establishes NEA-Clayton as the “Exclusive Representative” with NEA-New Mexico helping the Local affiliate with the process.
Professional concerns over the direction of the district’s moves to handle academic programs amidst declining state funding gave rise to the push for collective bargaining. Thirty-one of the district’s thirty-two certified educators participated in the vote.
Teachers and other educational employees in conservative, rural Northeast New Mexico have been organizing and forming unions in response to new regulations and funding cuts from the state. Earlier this year, educators in Raton ratified the first union contract in nearly two decades after joining NEA-NM in 2015.
Educational leader Lisa Massey, a 4th grade teacher at Kiser Elementary, says, “This vote is about having a real say in what happens in our schools. (This) isn’t about getting raises or current administrators.”
“The collective bargaining process elevates the legal standing for the NEA-Clayton as the collective educators’ voice. It gives them a meaningful voice in changes the district might make in reaction to reduced funds or new mandates from the NM-PED,” said Jonathan Leibowitz, NEA-NM UniServ Representative.
“We want what is best for the students,” said Mike Barnes, agriculture teacher, at Clayton High School. “To achieve what is best for students, teachers need to be treated fairly and equitably. As professionals who work with our students, we know what is needed to help our students succeed.”
“We hope this begins a collaborative process with the district where we can work together to do what is best for the students and teachers, parents and the District,” added Massey.
The election was supervised by the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board, a state agency which regulates implementation of the New Mexico Public Employee Bargaining Act.
For more information: Jon Leibowitz, NEA-NM UniServ for Northeast New Mexico (412) 290-5609 or
Charles Goodmacher, NEA-NM (505) 450-3155