So, New Mexico workers found the next best thing. They launched the Susana Minimum Wage Listening Tour, featuring a cardboard cut out of the governor who would listen to testimonials of workers who were affected by her veto.
“We’re here to ask: Why did you sell us out and throw us under the bus?” asked Working America organizer David Garcia Diaz, “How can you reconcile giving out-of-state corporations a multi-million dollar tax break while our people continue to struggle?”
Like the real Governor Martinez, the cardboard cutout did not respond to questions.
Want to have a listening session with the cardboard governor in your town? OLE and Working America organizers are holding sessions across the state. Email Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an event in your community.
On March 29, 2013, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez vetoed a bill passed by both the House and Senate increasing the minimum wage to $8.50. That was Good Friday – obviously Gov. Martinez wanted to do veto our raise on a day when very few were paying attention.
New Mexico’s low-wage workers, who number about 84,000, are getting restless. As the video shows, several workers with the group OLE New Mexico tried to contact Gov. Martinez to ask what her reasoning was behind the veto, but were blocked at every turn. Not a single staff member could give justification for this action, and most frequently got an answering machine or were asked to submit a request through the website.
Gov. Martinez lack of transparency on an issue that affects so many New Mexicans is disturbing. As the only person standing between 84,000 workers and their raise, she owes the state a better explanation of her actions.
The member, a 19-year-old college student from Albuquerque, and our staff member, who has advocated for workers in New Mexico for more than five years, were offering testimony about why a raise in the wage is critical to thousands of families and to the health of the county’s economy.
These degrading comments have no justification and are not fit for public discourse. We thank the community and our allies who have defended our organizers and workers over the last few days amid a frenzy of activity and attention. We have received a direct apology from one of the offending parties and the other has been suspended from his position.
While we are saddened by these comments, it is clear that a few unfortunate choices have neither dampened the victory we feel for the 10,000 working people in Bernalillo County, nor has it diminished our resolve to continue to fight for working families in New Mexico. Now, 50,000 people in Bernalillo County and Albuquerque will have a wage increase that will pour money directly back into New Mexico’s communities, businesses and economy.
We congratulate these two women for their outstanding work. We stand proudly with them and with the working families who represent the best of New Mexico.
This victory was built on a similar one in Albuquerque last November, when a whopping 66 percent of voters passed a minimum wage increase in that city. As a result, over 40,000 workers got a raise at the beginning of this year.
Less than a month after Gov. Susana Martinez’ “Good Friday” veto of a statewide minimum wage increase (and her subsequent scrubbing her website of all mention of the bill), the people of Bernalillo county spoke loud and clear. Now, low-wage workers in the most populous county in New Mexico will get a modest increase in their wages – money that will be put back into the local economy, help reduce turnover, increase productivity and improve the health of small businesses and communities.
The implementation will take place in two phases: an $8.00 increase on July 1st and another increase to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2014.
There was, and remains, overwhelming support for a living wage in New Mexico and throughout the state. Both the New Mexico House and Senate passed the one-dollar increase before Gov. Martinez vetoed it, calling it a “gimmick.”
We will continue to work diligently to ensure the wage increases will be implemented.
Last year, voters in the city of Albuquerque voted overwhelmingly – 66 percent – to raise the minimum wage by a dollar from $7.50 to $8.50.
This year, a majority of the New Mexico House and Senate voted to expand that policy to the entire state, a much needed boost to an economy with high poverty and the highest percentage of low-income families in the country.
Unfortunately for Gov. Martinez, New Mexico workers aren’t taking no for a final answer.
Bernalillo County, where Albuquerque is located, is by far the most populous county in the state (the second biggest, Dona Ana County, has a third of Bernalillo’s population). While Gov. Martinez was busy blocking our raise and hiding the evidence, New Mexico workers were already lobbying the County Commissioners to expand the Albuquerque policy to the rest of the county.
Tomorrow, the five commissioners will vote on the minimum wage increase. A victory here won’t only show that New Mexico workers want fair wages, it will also show that Gov. Martinez alone can’t stop the march of progress in the Land of Enchantment.
On March 29, 2013, Good Friday, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez vetoed Senate Bill 416, which would have raised the state minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 – an effective one-dollar raise for the over 84,000 workers in the state who earn minimum wage or lower.
But if you look at her website, there’s no evidence of this ever happening. As OLE New Mexico points out in the above video, there’s no mention of the bill ever existing.
At the time she vetoed it, Gov. Martinez called the bill a “gimmick.” Yet by choosing a day with low press attention to take this action, and then scrubbing all mention of it from her official (taxpayer-funded) website, it seems like the Governor is the gimmick expert.
”I really find it incredible that she called this bill a gimmick,” said Working America Member Coordinator Brenda Rodriguez, “It’s not a gimmick to put food on the table.”
Late on Good Friday, as people were getting ready for Easter weekend, Gov. Susan Martinez vetoed Senate Bill 416 which would have raised the wage of thousands of New Mexico’s low-wage workers from $7.50 to $8.50.
The bill’s modest increase, which the Gov. first labeled a “gimmick,” would have been a common-sense way forward to improve our communities and our state economy. It is also what the majority of New Mexicans want. Just last year, Albuquerque passed an overwhelmingly popular measure by a 2-to-1 margin to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour.
Every week we talk to thousands of people whose low-wage work barely affords them the ability to pay their bills. Gov. Martinez was elected to listen to these people – her constituents – and to lead the state economy forward. On Friday, she failed.
Currently, in New Mexico, our joint-organization with IATSE 480, Reel Working America, is rapidly expanding.
After Film & Media Day in Santa Fe, our membership totaled 600 members and just recently we reached out to 150 new members in Las Vegas, New Mexico. But perhaps the most exciting part of Reel Working America is the active roles and leadership our members are taking in the legislative issues that are affecting the film industry—such as the “Breaking Bad Bill.”
House Bill379 – dubbed the Breaking Bad Bill - would increase tax incentives to 30 percent for TV shows producing at least six episodes in New Mexico. Hollywood called the Breaking Bad Bill a “game changer,” but far more importantly it would create more jobs for film workers and local businesses that cater to the various needs of the productions.
One of our members, Shelley Carney, expressed the importance of this legislative bill:
“Film has become a family business for me, my husband, and children. It’s helped us build a future together, beyond this, the film industry has become our family and we are all doing our part to grow that in New Mexico.”
As Governor Susana Martinez was debating signing the bill, Reel Working America members expressed their support with about 1,000 photo petitions with statements such as “Let’s Bring Jobs Home” and 700 written statements about why they personally supported the bill.
Although Gov. Martinez ended up vetoing the bill, a similar initiative was added to a larger tax package of which the Governor finally signed – a big win for the New Mexico’s film industry. Not only will this initiative will bring new film jobs to New Mexico, but it was an opportunity for our members to step up and take on leadership roles during a pressing time for the industry.
This marks a great beginning to the glowing future of Reel Working America.
Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM) is likely to veto SB 416, which would raise the New Mexico minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50. Gov. Martinez has until April 5, 2013 to either follow through on this veto or change her mind.
Both the House and Senate passed the measure, which exempts businesses with 11 employees or fewer, workers under 18, and agricultural workers. Employers are also allowed to pay a “training wage” of $7.50 to new workers for their first six months on the job. Gov. Martinez called the bill a “gimmick.”
New Mexico is ranked number one in the country for income inequality
11 percent of New Mexico workers earn minimum wage or less
85 percent of New Mexico minimum wage workers work more than 20 hours part-time
76 percent of New Mexico minimum wage workers are over 20 years old
About 20 percent of New Mexico children have at least one parent who earns the minimum wage or less
New Mexico Voices for Children estimates that raising the state minimum wage to $8.50 equates to a $1,080 annual raise for low-wage workers, which will generate an additional $67 million in gross domestic product, and will create 590 jobs.
While Gov. Martinez calls that much-needed relief and economic boost a “gimmick,” she has said she will sign a tax bill into law that includes reducing the tax rate for corporations. These tax breaks will cost New Mexico taxpayers $56 million by 2016.
“In a state ranked No. 1 in income inequality, it is unfortunate that Gov. Martinez would reject such basic relief to low-wage workers—which would immediately put money back into the New Mexico economy—while clamoring for tax breaks for corporations,” said Working America State Director Chelsey Evans. “We call on Gov. Martinez to listen to what the overwhelming majority of New Mexicans want: a bill that would provide a basic, modest improvement for the people of New Mexico.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. Gov. Martinez can sign the bill on her desk and offer a raise to thousands of New Mexico workers who are just scraping by. Those workers will then have more money to use to pay bills, buy groceries, fill their gas tanks, and be active consumers – and that’s good for the whole economy.
Congrats to Brenda Rodriguez, our new Member Coordinator in Albuquerque, on her first post for the Main Street Blog! -Doug
This past Christmas, when majority of people kept a close watch on their holiday spending, Working America members took the time and energy to speak with their co-workers, friends, and neighbors to ask them to donate a can or two for our annual holiday food drive. The result? A network of people came together to create Christmas Gift Baskets for families who are currently unemployed or underemployed.
One such member is Rosie Sandoval, a retired 71 year old, who reached out to all her neighbors about donating non-perishable food items for the holiday food drive. Thanks to her efforts, Rosie – along with her network of neighbors – was able to contribute to the food baskets for families in New Mexico. Mrs. Sandoval understands the plight of many working-class families first hand but also values the power of collective giving: “It’s not much, but we share all that we can during these difficult economic times.”
Such is the case for Martin Hall, a 53-year old disabled veteran, who depends on social security. “I can’t afford gas,” Mr. Hall explains, “so I have to walk it everywhere. If they were to lower Social Security, I won’t be able to pay for rent or my bills. I will be living in the streets.” Mr. Hall voices the concern of many people in New Mexico currently struggling with unemployment and poverty. It is going take a strong collective force to make the change New Mexico needs.
A year ago, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez spoke about a “shared sacrifice” in her State of the State address. At that time 1 out of 4 children lived in poverty, and corporations enjoyed a very comfy tax loophole (they still do). Startling economic indicators show, however, that Martinez’s so-called “shared sacrifice” isn’t getting New Mexico’s economy back on track. As we start the New Year, we must resolve to bring the uneven weight of these sacrifices to light and begin to reprioritize our collective needs.
Despite all of this, 2012 ended with a great victory for Albuquerque. The initiative to raise the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 passed with an overwhelming support of 66 percent, meaning 2 out of every 3 Burqueños voted in favor of the initiative. Thanks to Albuquerque voters, 40,000 people will benefit from this new legislative bill giving the community spending power and boosting the local economy. The implementation of the minimum wage increase in Albuquerque signifies a new beginning for New Mexico. In a time when 6.2 percent of New Mexicans are unemployed and 31 percent of New Mexico children live in poverty, it is time to reevaluate the priorities of our state leaders and start following the thread of collective power of our communities.
The spirit of the holidays, just like the energy of the New Year, should not be measured by a shared sacrifice, but by the long-lasting relationships we form with our neighbors and co-workers that creates a collective power that can win a minimum wage increase by a landslide, a collective power that can and will fight against poverty, job loss and unemployment; the spirit of I am Working America.