The caregivers of the UNM SRMC file a union file

Mauro Montanez and his daughter-in-law Brooklyn at the union celebration Wednesday in the parking lot of the Broadmoor Senior Center. (Garrison Wells/The Observer)

We are the ones working here. We are the ones doing the day-to-day and it feels like at this point we are just numbers – Mauro Montanez, technician at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center

An effort to organize healthcare workers at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center became official last week.

In the parking lot of the Broadmoor Senior Center on Wednesday, these employees celebrated with stuffed sopapilla dishes from the StuffedLust Sopapilla Food Co. truck.

The decision to form the Public Employees Union is a joint effort of the American Federation of New Mexico Teachers and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge #794.

SRMC nurse Adrienne Enghouse leads the way for healthcare workers.

On May 18, the unions filed an application to form United Health Professionals of New Mexico with the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board.

“We asked for our recognition,” Enghouse said. “And we are just waiting for them to confirm that we have a majority. At that point we will sit down and negotiate a contract. Today is about celebrating this milestone.

The hospital, however, does not accept the decision to unionize.

SRMC, spokeswoman Alexandria A. Sanchez, said in an email, “has and continues to work diligently and collaboratively with staff to create a productive and supportive workplace.” We value our SRMC employees and want to thank everyone who puts patients first every day by providing exceptional care. »

This is not necessarily the only initiative of New Mexico unions, said Whitney Holland, president of AFT New Mexico. Other health care facilities that aren’t already unionized are on the radar to make the move.

“That’s our hope,” she said.

The UNM, she said, “hasn’t been friendly. They withstood every possible twist.

ER nurse Jennifer Heckwine was among those present at the celebration.

“I think the union is going to help all the hospital staff,” she said.

It could also help with retention.

“I think with the small medical community we have in this state, there’s a lot of competition, and if we don’t do things to support staff and retain staff, then we lose them to other hospitals. and that’s what we’re seeing right now,” she said.

A sign advertises the union’s name in the parking lot of the Broadmoor Senior Center on Wednesday. (Garrison Wells/The Observer)

UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center is part of the UNM Health System.

It is in downtown Rio Rancho, near City Hall and UNM Health Sciences Rio Rancho, near Paseo del Vulcan.

According to its website, the hospital is a 200,000 square foot acute care facility with 72 inpatient beds and two 24-bed medical/surgical units and 12 intensive care beds.

Mauro Montanez, an SRMC technician, was among about 100 people who celebrated on Wednesday, along with his daughter-in-law Brooklyn.

The union, he said, “would give us more representation.

“We want something that’s going to give us a bit more voice in our own business,” he said. “We are the ones working here. We’re the ones doing the day-to-day, and it just feels like at this point, we’re just numbers.