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Why We Unionize

Since SWOP’s founding in 1980 we have always supported the labor movement. New Mexico has a long history of labor organizing. One of our most famous labor struggles was in Silver City, New Mexico, in the 1950s lead by Chican@ and Mexican@ labor leaders and culminated in the strike that is portrayed in the very popular film “Salt of the Earth.”

The striking miners were ordered by the courts to stop the picketing. But the miners’ wives, sisters and daughters took up the strike and picketed the mines and this ended up in a resounding victory for the miners and their families.

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Many of our members and volunteers have been union members throughout the years. In the early 1990s, the small staff at SWOP expressed a desire to become a union shop. As union supporters, we wanted to add members to the labor movement and be part of a rich history of labor organizing. At that time we were very small and did not pursue this idea.


As with most families, our SWOP family sometimes had squabbles and differences between staff and management. Throughout the years we have lost a few good organizers because of these differences and by 2012 the SWOP staff had grown to about 12 staff and we thought it was a good time to again pursue the idea of becoming a union shop. We wanted to be union members and be a part of the labor movement. In 2012 staff members talked to various unions in Albuquerque and decided to seek membership in the Communication Workers of America, Local 7011. The non-management staff all signed the union authorization cards and formed our own bargaining unit at SWOP, represented by CWA Local 7011. Our bargaining unit, with assistance from CWA District 7 organizers, opened up contract negotiations with SWOP management and Board. SWOP Board members and management never had any opposition to this union organizing and ratified a contract for SWOP’s bargaining unit.


The United States has a long and rich history of union organizing and the labor movement has been under attack from day one. The labor movement reached its largest membership during the 1950s, but because of constant pressure and attacks, the labor movement has slowly lost membership. But now, we can say with pride that our SWOP staff are now proud union members and are active in the labor movement. One of our staff, Roberto, is in his second 3-year term as the Secretary-Treasurer of CWA Local 7011, is a delegate from Local 7011 to the Central New Mexico Labor Council and also sits on their Executive Board.

Benefits for SWOP unionizing

  • First non-profit organization to unionize in the state of New Mexico

  • SWOP union members add to the US labor movement

  • SWOP is represented at CWA and the Central Labor Council

  • SWOP takes members to union pickets, strikes and actions

  • SWOP shares community issues with local and state unions.

  • SWOP staff directly participate in contract negotiations with management

  • SWOP always joins forces with labor to fight Right to Work Laws in New Mexico

  • Work to build labor/community solidarity

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