Juan José Peña, GI Forum, Chairman Hispano Round Table of New Mexico Post Office Box 27217 Alburquerque, New Mexico 87126-7217 Home: (505) 242-8085, Work: (505) 348-2092, Pager: (505) 247-5998, Fax: (505) 242-1603, E-mail: jjp3000@aolcom, Work E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ______________________________________________________________________ OFFICERS Ralph Arellanes, IMAGE, Vice-Chairman; Jose' de Jesse's Cervantes, Bernalillo NEA, Treasurer; Alex Gonzales, Hispanics for UNM, Secretary ______________________________________________________________________ BOARD OF DIRECTORS James Arellanes, IMAGE; Alfred Valdez, Hispano Round Table of Las Vegas, Juan Fidel Larrañaga, GI Forum; Karen Sánchez Griego, APS Hispano Educators; Evangeline Sandoval Trujillo, MANA Honorable Governor Johnson, Lieutenant Governor Walter Bradley and Honorable New Mexico Senators and Representatives: I am writing on behalf of the Hispanic Round Table of New Mexico to support the efforts of New Mexico's labor Unions to obtain the renewal of the New Mexico Collective Bargaining Act and to oppose the repeal of the Little Davis- Bacon Act. I am sure that you are well aware of the fact that our native New Mexican Indohispano ancestors struggled mightily to get decent wages for the hard work they carried on both in the public and private sector since New Mexico became a part of the United States on February 2, 1848 under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. We organized under the Caballeros de Labor, the National Mine Union , the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Jointer of 1910, the Railroad Brotherhoods, the Liga Obrera de Habla Española, the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, and in more recent decades under the affiliates of the AFLCIO, the NEA, the United Mine Workers and many other national and local unions. New Mexico's Indohispanos have been at the forefront of union organizing in New Mexico, but despite these efforts, far too many of our people work in jobs, even in state employment, for which they are underpaid and overworked. Many jobs in state government in New Mexico still pay only minimum or near minimum wage, which leaves many of our state employees at or below the poverty level. I know this firsthand, because during my hard times after I ran out of money and had to leave my Ph.D. studies at the University of New Mexico in 1981, I worked as an attendant I at the New Mexico State Hospital. As an attendant I, I received $667.00 per month. My take-home pay was $220.00 every two weeks. Many of the attendants I worked with, mostly native New Mexican Indohispanos, had been working there for ten to twenty years and were at the attendant I or II level and despite their longevity, their salaries were not much better than mine. Far too many of New Mexico's employees, especially native New Mexican Indohispanos, are still in this status and their only hope for improvement given New Mexico's slow economy, low wages and lack of employers who pay adequate living wages and medical and retirement benefits, or the lack of employers altogether, as is the case in many of New Mexico's rural areas, is via the collective bargaining route, and they need the assistance of the collective bargaining strength of the unions to help bring up their status in the work force state government. Many other workers need the unions and the strength of the collective bargaining act to keep the wages up to at least the level of inflation and to work for even better wages. New Mexico's unions have serve our workers as leverage for the large body of voiceless, faceless workers who do not make waves or have political clout but who come to work every day and labor away at the task of doing the state's work. With regard to the Little Davis Bacon Act, we know that many of New Mexico's workers, especially in the building industries outside of the metropolitan areas, are underpaid, and who, if not the State of New Mexico, should support the payment of a decent living wage on state and local government projects. The State of New Mexico should be in the forefront of ensuring that our workers, especially the low wage workers of New Mexico's native Indohispano, Native American and African American communities, get a decent living wage when their companies do work for the State of New Mexico or the county and local governments of the State. I remember that for many years, Hispanos who worked for the Franken Construction Company in Las Vegas were paid only minimum wages, and the only wage increases they saw came when the minimum wage was raised. They worked for minimum wage all of their working lives with the company until they retired under Social Security. The Little Davis-Bacon Act, had it existed then, could have ensured that when Steve Franken did jobs for the state, county and local government he would have paid his workers at a better wage level. We must honor the long, hard, often dangerous work our native New Mexican Indohispano forefathers and other union organizers who worked and organized the labor unions of the state of New Mexico in the private industries and the public sector of the state of New Mexico. We must recall the hardships and suffering they endured to make the employers pay a decent living wage, especially for the native New Mexican Indohispano, Men like Padre Antonio Jose' Martínez; Juan Patrón, Juan Jose' Herrera, Leader of the Caballeros de Labor; Octaviano Larrazolo, who as a lawyer defended Hispano workers before the railroad for better wages and working conditions; Jesu's Pallares, President of the NMU and the Liga Obrera de Habla Española; Carolina Sa'nchez, President of the Woodmen of the World; Eusebio Navarro, who took over the leadership in the Liga and the NMU after the deportation of Jesu's Pallares; Don Florencio Arago'n, Liga Obrera de Habla Española organizer in Las Vegas who organized the Hispano WPA workers in the Las Vegas Area to seek leadership positions for Hispanos and Juan Chacón, who organized the Hispano miners in Silver City in the early 1950's. In their memory and for the above cited reasons, on behalf of the organizations and members of the Hispanic Round Table of New Mexico, I respectfully request that you reinstate the New Mexico Collective Bargaining Act and retain the Little Davis-Bacon Act. Thank you for your time and kind consideration of this matter. Respectfully, Juan Jose' Peña, Chairman--------------------------
Dear Representatives of New Mexico State Legislature:
I am writing to request that you support SJM 13 for the Ce'sar Cha'vez holiday which will be heard Thursday, February 11, 1999 before Committee in room 324. We request that you also please have your staff request the support of those of your colleagues who do not have electronic mail and have them pass this message on to them. The work of Cesario Estrada Cha'vez influenced many positive improvements in the wretched working conditions suffered by the poorest among us who through their hard labor, the sweat of their brows and the detriment to their health and the suffering of their children have kept us fed for these many decades. It is only fitting that we honor their, consequently our, champion, for the improvement in their lives has brought about by the work of Cesario Estrada Cha'vez have immeasurably improved our lives because we have recognized the human dignity of these humble people in our midst.
Furthermore, we also request that you oppose the repeal of the Little Davis Bacon Act, which will be heard Thursday, February 11th at 12:30 and that you urge your colleagues to do so also. This act has greatly improved the lives of the humble construction workers among native New Mexican Indohispanos who often have had to labor for minimum wage from the beginning of their careers as construction workers until the time they retire to their meager Social Security pensions. It has also assisted native New Mexican Indohispano skilled craftsmen obtain a wage more in keeping with their brethren in our neighboring states, and in a state as poor as New Mexico in per capita income, we need to bring our wages, especially on state, county and local government projects, more in line with the wages of our neighboring states. Far too many of New Mexico's employees earn wages which do not raise them above the poverty level in their wages. The state of New Mexico must do what it can to improve the wages of its workers, not keep them down and further impoverish our already impoverished work force. Recent statistics show that New Mexico has the largest number of Children living in poverty; let's not add to that statistic by further impoverishing their parents. Please also have your staffs relay this message to your colleagues who do not have electronic mail
Thank you for your time and kind consideration of this matter.
Juan Jose' Pe~na, Chairman
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