LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — New Mexico State University faculty members are considering whether to form a union after President John Floros said faculty cuts were likely because of a reduced budget induced by the coronavirus pandemic.
University regents approved a 10.5% budget reduction to the main campus in July.
Every department at the university must submit plans for a 6%, 9% and 12% budget cut to University President John Floros by September, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.
The administration will announce their final decisions in October after reviewing the plans.
Floros said the school will evaluate each department and college separately.
“We will keep the best people, and the rest of the people that don’t get on the bus, they need to find another place,” Floros said.
Floros said he believes the university will be able to cut costs without furloughs or salary reductions.
Floros said each department will have different levels of budget cuts depending on productivity and success. Some departments may see little to no budget decrease, while others may be cut substantially.
The comments by Floros concerned some faculty members, leading them to consider unionization.
“It just shows some of the people in administration are absolutely clueless to how hard we’re working and how dedicated we are,” said Christa Slaton, a professor at the university and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I can tell you, it just plummeted morale.”
Slaton said the president's comments helped stir pro-union sentiments.
“He already did the damage by saying what he said,” she said. “The idea that ‘the best people need to get on the bus’ … was just beyond insensitive.”
But Gary Roemer, a professor at the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Ecology at NMSU, noted that there was a lack of enthusiasm the last time faculty tried to unionize in 2013.
“I’m not sure why that apathy existed,” Roemer said. “Basically, they just wanted to put their heads down and do their work.”
Professor Jamie Bronstein in the history department said that while faculty members are in the early stages of forming a union, it is sure to be more successful this time around because the University of New Mexico unionized last year.
The newspaper reported that faculty are consulting with the people who helped employees unionize at UNM and the Las Cruces Public Schools.