New Mexico workers celebrate paid sick leave victory

SANTA FE, NM—After six years of organizing efforts, workers and advocates celebrate Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s signing of the Healthy Workplaces Act into law today. Effective July 1, 2022, workers statewide will be able to accrue one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked and up to 64 hours annually. 

The paid sick leave coalition thanks the sponsors of the bill, Reps. Angelica Rubio, Christine Chandler and Patricia Roybal Caballero and Sens. Mimi Stewart and Linda Lopez, for being true champions for New Mexico workers, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for her support. 

Workers have been fighting for this legislation for years, sharing personal stories with lawmakers about being forced to go to work sick or risk losing their paycheck. As a result of this tireless work, paid sick leave is finally a reality and will benefit all of New Mexico’s families and communities. This big win illustrates how critical it is for legislators to hear from New Mexicans—the people who stock groceries, care for others’ children, harvest and serve food and keep our communities going throughout the pandemic. New Mexico workers showed up and made their voices heard. 

This statement is signed by the following: 

  • AARP NM
  • NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fe (CAFe)
  • Center for Civic Policy
  • El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos
  • Enlace Comunitario
  • Equality New Mexico
  • National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees District 1199NM
  • New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty
  • New Mexico Working Families Party
  • New Mexico Voices for Children
  • OLÉ, Organizers in the Land of Enchantment
  • Somos un Pueblo Unido
  • United Food Workers of America Local 1564
  • Women Food & Agricultural Network

Statements from workers and organizations across New Mexico:

Carissa Owen, Restaurant worker and NM CAFe leader, (Las Cruces, NM)
“Paid sick leave is long overdue for New Mexico workers. I have seen restaurants fund expansions, marketing, or new concept rollout instead of investments in their biggest assets: their trained and dedicated workforce. This legislation is necessary for the restaurant industry to take employee health seriously.”

Rosa del Carpio, Worker and El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos member, (Albuquerque, NM)
“I have been working in Albuquerque for almost 15 years without access to paid sick leave. I tested positive for Covid-19 after having to risk going to work to put food on the table. I was worried about getting tested in the first place for fear that a positive test result would force me to quarantine without any income in order to survive. What I feared most as a single mother was infecting my nine-year-old son. Thousands of workers around New Mexico find themselves in situations similar to mine. Having access to paid sick leave is not only a racial justice issue: it will save the lives of workers and families in our communities.”

Marshall Martinez, Director of Equality New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM)
“Paid sick leave is critical for LGBTQ New Mexicans. Queer and Trans people work hourly jobs disproportionately and already face extreme systemic barriers to healthcare. HB 20 helps with one of those barriers and will help provide LGBTQ New Mexicans the opportunity to be able to afford the time off to see our healthcare providers.”

Stephanie Welch, Director of Workers’ Rights at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (Albuquerque, NM)
“No one should have to choose between a paycheck and protecting their and their loved ones’ health. Yet half of New Mexicans who work for private employers have to do exactly that because their employer does not provide paid sick leave. This law will ensure that workers get this basic right. We thank the workers from across the state who spoke out and advocated to legislators, and who won this victory.”

Anamaria Dahle, NM Working Families Party member, (Albuquerque, NM)
“Earning paid sick leave will allow me to obtain treatment to heal my injuries inflicted by my ex-husband over a decade ago. I will also be able to keep up with my doctors’ appointments for my autoimmune disease. So often, single parents’ health is put on the back burner. Thank you for passing HB 20.”

Iman Andrade, OLÉ member, (Albuquerque, NM)
“For me, winning paid sick leave means a safer workplace for me and my coworkers. This means people can actually stay home if they have COVID and not spread it to others. Workers need paid sick leave regardless if there is a pandemic. We can keep people safe from spreading colds and flus, especially in the restaurant and grocery industry. Our workforce is going to be much safer and I am so excited that HB 20 has passed the Senate.”

Bellanira Lozano, Somos Un Pueblo Unido member, (Santa Fe, NM)
“I am a single mother of four children and a domestic worker who takes care of elderly people in Santa Fe. The pandemic hit my family hard. We all got sick and didn’t get paid. This law means families like mine won’t have to decide between getting paid or going to work sick. It’s a tremendous victory for New Mexico’s workers.”

Oriana Sandoval, CEO of Center for Civic Policy, (Albuquerque, NM)
“Today we celebrate the passage of House Bill 20–a statewide Paid Sick Leave program for New Mexico workers. This legislation sends a clear message that families shouldn’t have to worry about shattering their family budget and getting buried under healthcare costs because they can’t afford to lose a day’s pay. We look forward to Gov. Michelle Luján Grisham signing this bold policy into law to take a step forward in ensuring New Mexicans have access to every resource they need to overcome the current pandemic and regain their stability–ensuring the success of our children and future generations.”

James Jimenez, Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children (Albuquerque, NM)
“Paid sick leave has long been a missing piece of the child well-being puzzle in New Mexico, with about half of our workforce lacking this basic benefit. The COVID-19 crisis has made this need even more critical, as families have suffered with the health impacts and the loss of job security and wages. The passage of this bill is a watershed moment for kids in our state and will go far in ensuring New Mexico parents and their families have the opportunity to live healthy lives and continue to contribute to a strong recovery. We applaud the Legislature for boldly rising to the greatest challenge of our time to secure this long-needed policy that will benefit the health and economy of our state.” 

Bold legislation for the health and well-being of New Mexican families await the governor’s signature. You can help!

Together we had groundbreaking and unprecedented victories this legislative session. Your dedication and countless phone calls, emails, and comments in committee hearings worked! Monumental efforts like paid sick leave, access to affordable healthcare, students’ access to culturally appropriate services, and more could be a reality for New Mexico’s families. 

We need your help to get these bills signed and over the finish line! Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has until April 8 to sign legislation and has started the process already.

Please contact the governor this week and ask her to sign HB 20, SB 71, HB 112, SB 317 and HB 287. Call her office at (505) 476-2200 and leave a short message, or email her using this form: https://www.governor.state.nm.us/contact-the-governor/.

  • HB 20 Healthy Workplaces Act will ensure that employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Only about half of all workers in New Mexico currently have paid sick leave.
  • SB 71 Patients’ Debt Collection Protection Act prohibits collections against low-income patients for hospital and certain medical facility bills and will help families get connected with healthcare coverage that can pay for their care.
  • HB 112 Non-Discrimination in State and Local Healthcare Programs will make it illegal to discriminate against immigrants in any healthcare program funded solely with state or local dollars.
  • SB 317 Healthcare Affordability Fund and No Behavioral Health Cost Sharing will raise more than $120 million to drive down healthcare costs and get coverage for tens of thousands more people, laying a foundation toward healthcare for all.
  • HB 287 Access to Culturally Appropriate Services will require the state to assess gaps in health and social services in the public schools and create a task force to recommend policy changes to ensure adequate, culturally responsive services. 

This session, we also got very close to passing major legislation for a 36% rate cap on predatory lending, housing protections, access to healthy foods, and built momentum for language access in government services, repealing minimum wage exclusions, SNAP improvements, and more. We will continue pushing for these important changes into the future.

Now, let’s get the bills passed made into law.


URGENT: We need your help to get a bill ensuring employees can earn paid sick leave over the finish line by contacting your senators now!

With your help, we can ensure that New Mexican workers no longer have to choose between their paychecks and their health.

HB 20, Healthy Workplaces Act, will likely be heard on the Senate floor TODAY.

About half of all workers in New Mexico lack paid sick leave. They have to either go to work sick or lose wages or risk losing their jobs to care for themselves or a loved one. HB 20 would ensure that employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. 

Please call or email your senator NOW and urge them to support paid sick leave! 

You could share a personal story about why you and other workers need paid time off when you are sick. You could also say or write something like this: “I urge the Senator to support HB 20 for paid sick leave. No one should have to choose between their health and their paycheck, but for the roughly half of all New Mexico workers who lack paid sick leave, this is the reality.”

The bill has already passed the House. Efforts to get the bill passed are now focussed on the Senate. You can find the senator who represents your district here: https://www.nmlegis.gov/members/find_my_legislator

ACTION ALERT: We need your help to get the Healthy Food Financing Act Heard!

Every New Mexican should have access to healthy foods.

SB 229, the Healthy Food Financing Act, would provide loans and grants to small food businesses to increase access to local, healthy foods in both rural and urban areas of our state. The bill will bring federal money into New Mexico for economic development and investment in community-led solutions to hunger, while supporting local farmers and improving health outcomes for New Mexico’s families.  

We need your help to get the Healthy Food Financing Heard! The Healthy Food Financing Act still needs to pass the House floor to make it to the Governor’s desk. Please contact House leadership TODAY to urge them to hear and pass SB 229.

Please personalize your message with your unique perspective and experience. Here is an example of what you might write or say. Representative ____, I’m asking you to support SB 229, the Healthy Food Financing Act and bring it to a vote on the House floor. This bill will fight hunger in New Mexico and help our economic recovery. SB 229 invests in community-led solutions to hunger and brings federal funding into our state to support local farmers & food businesses.

House Leadership

ACTION ALERT: An important housing bill still needs to be heard by a Senate committee before it can cross the finish line.

House Bill 111 would expand eviction time frames and allow renters additional time to access the millions of dollars in federal rental assistance money that must be spent by the end of the year. New Mexico can’t afford to leave this money on the table! 

This is the last week of the session. The bill has already been passed by the House with strong support from the New Mexico Apartment Association. 

We need your help to get  this bill scheduled and heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee! Please call and email members of the committee and Majority Floor Leader Sen. Peter Wirth TODAY and ask them to schedule HB 111!

New Mexico was already in a housing crisis before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless we take action now, there will be a tidal wave of evictions as soon as the public health emergency ends, threatening our health and economic recovery as a state. 

New Mexico has some of the shortest eviction time frames in the U.S. —often too short to access rental assistance, resulting in tenants being evicted and landlords losing income even when rental relief is available. 

Majority Floor Leader

Senate Judiciary Committee

Action Alert: All New Mexicans deserve access to fair loans!

Senate Bill 66 would require a 36% APR cap in New Mexico to ensure that New Mexicans have access to fair and affordable loans. The House Judiciary Committee will hear the bill MONDAY, March 15 at 11:30.

We need your help to keep up the momentum on SB 66. Please call or email members of the committee TODAY and urge them to support a 36% cap on storefront loans.

Right now, New Mexico has one of the highest interest rate caps in the country. Lenders across the state are making loans with annual interest rates of 175% APR. A family who borrows a storefront loan for just a few hundred dollars will end up paying hundreds, even thousands of dollars in interest and fees.  

You might share a personal story with legislators about why no one should be allowed to charge triple-digit interest rates. You might also share why you support the bill. For example: “I urge the Representative to support SB 66 for a 36% cap on storefront loans. No one should have to choose between paying their rent and making payments on a triple-digit loan. New Mexicans deserve access to fair and responsible credit.” 

Contact information for the Representatives is below.

House Judiciary Committee

ACTION ALERT: Support language access for state services!

All New Mexicans deserve equal access to state services, regardless of the language they speak.

New Mexico is home to thousands of people that primarily speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Diné and other languages. Despite being required by law, many agencies do not provide information and services in languages New Mexicans understand. Lack of language services has delayed or prevented New Mexicans from applying for unemployment insurance, food assistance, and Medicaid prior to and during the pandemic and deepened economic and health disparities in our communities. 

Senate Bill 368 will increase resources and services in languages other than English, ensuring that more New Mexicans can access state services. The bill will be heard in the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee FRIDAY a half hour after the Senate floor session. 

We need your help to get it passed! Please submit written comments today or sign up to speak and comment in the committee hearing.

You can share a personal story in your email about why state agencies should provide interpretation or translation. You can also say something like this: “I urge senators to support SB 368. All New Mexicans should have access to state services. Coordinating and planning language services is a common sense step to address health and economic inequities in our state services.”

Instructions on how to submit written comments and make public comments at the hearing are below. 

Bill summary

SB 368: Language Access Analysis, Plan, and Annual Report will increase language access by requiring state agencies to: 

  • Assess the number of New Mexicans they serve that primarily speak a language other than English and determine the resources needed to ensure meaningful access to services, like public benefits and unemployment insurance.
  • Develop and implement an annual plan to provide meaningful access to state programs for individuals who primarily speak languages other than English. 
  • Submit the annual report to the governor and the legislative finance committee.

Written comment instructions

  • Submit to SPAC@nmlegis.gov 
  • Written comments should be 300 words or less. 

Public comment (during hearing) instructions

When: 30 minutes after Senate floor session on Friday, March 12

Sign up to make public comment via this form:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd6DQLFUzJjhBKz16R2F1jHrXTZN68hQ3_dMl0JAlGgl0kFzQ/viewform

You will be contacted by the committee’s Zoom operator who will give you instructions on how to access the public comment portion by Zoom.

What to expect during the hearing: The committee will be taking public comment. The chair of the committee will announce the bill and ask who supports SB 368. At that time, to provide a comment use the Zoom reaction button and raise your hand. The Chair will call your name and unmute your zoom when it is your turn to speak.

Tips 

  • Keep your remarks brief and to the point.
  • If you have a personal story about how state agencies’ lack of interpretation or translation services has impacted you or your family, please share it.
  • Close the Legislature’s webcast page when you give your comment so there is not an echo during your remarks.
  • Make sure you are not muted when you start speaking.
  • Do not rely on your computer or phone for notes. Write them down or print them in case your computer screen freezes.
  • Close other tabs and windows in your browser to make sure your connection is good.
  • If your connection or microphone doesn’t work, be prepared to call in with the information above.

Pursuing child support no longer required to qualify for child care assistance

Barriers finally removed after years of advocacy

ALBUQUERQUE—Many more families now qualify for New Mexico’s Child Care Assistance Program after the elimination of multiple unnecessary eligibility requirements. The program provides help with the costs of child care for parents and guardians who are working or in school. The Early Childhood Education and Care Department released the new rules, which became effective yesterday, after workers and worker’s rights groups lobbied New Mexico agencies for years to eliminate barriers to the program. 

Notably, the new rules no longer force parents to pursue child support from the child’s other parent in order to qualify for assistance. Most parents, faced with fruitlessly antagonizing coparents—who sometimes were their former abusers—choose to simply forgo much needed childcare along with employment and work opportunities. 

Twenty-seven states, including Arizona, have already eliminated this requirement because it is burdensome for families, costly to administer, and is not in the best interests of the parent and child.

 “I am happy to see the Early Childhood Education and Care Department take concerns of New Mexico parents so seriously,” said Karina Pizaro who is a member of OLÉ. “These regulation changes mean that so many more families are going to be able to apply for childcare and not be left with the extra struggles on top of having to take care of their family.”

Other changes to New Mexico’s Child Care Assistance Program that make child care assistance more accessible include:

  • Parents can now submit applications electronically instead of only in-person. 
  • Other forms of assistance, like TANF, child support, and unemployment no longer count as income in the application.
  • Graduate school now satisfies the education requirement. 
  • Waiving copays during health emergencies.
  • Parents already participating in the program can now communicate changes in child care needs to ECECD by phone. 
  • Parents will no longer be subject to a mid-year recertification process or investigated for overpayment unless there is substantiated fraud.

“Before the pandemic, I would have to take time off of work to go in person to the office to apply for childcare assistance, go back multiple times if I was missing paperwork, and lose wages in the process. It’s amazing that families can apply for childcare assistance safely without having to expose their family to potential Covid-19 risks and without the potential of losing wages, “ said Karina Pizarro, parent and child care teacher with OLÉ.

“One of the best ways to help hard-working parents keep their jobs and stay in school is by providing help with the exorbitant costs of child care,” said Tim Davis with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “ECECD’s new rules make it possible for more low-income parents to work or go to school while providing their children with a safe place to learn and grow. We hope other state agencies will follow its example and take a look at how they can remove barriers to participation.  We thank Secretary Groginsky for her leadership and collaborative efforts with the community.”

Virtual Rally on State Paid Sick Leave

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Join workers, community members, union members and allies for a virtual rally with State Legislators on March 2 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss why hard working New Mexicans need earned paid sick leave.

Únete a trabajadores, miembros de la comunidad y aliados en un mitin virtual con legisladores estatales este 2 de marzo a las 6:30 de la tarde. Para hablar sobre la importancia de que los trabajadores en Nuevo México tengan días de enfermedad pagados.

The rally will focus on HB 20 Healthy Workplaces Act, which when passed, would allow workers statewide to earn paid sick leave to care for themselves and their loved ones when sick.

Hablaremos sobre la propuesta HB 20, la Ley de Lugares de Trabajo Saludables, que, de ser aprobada, permitirá que los trabajadores en todo el estado tengan derecho a días de enfermedad pagados que podrán usar cuando se enfermen o para cuidar de sus seres queridos enfermos.

Habrá interpretación al español

WHAT:       Paid Sick Leave Virtual Rally

Register at https://www.mobilize.us/nm-wfp/event/376576/ 

WHO:        

  • Frontline workers who need paid sick leave
  • Public health leaders
  • AARP
  • State Legislators 

WHEN:      Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: The rally will be live streamed on Facebook in Spanish on the @ElCentrodeIgualdadyDerechos page and in English on the @NMWFP and @OLENewmexico pages

The rally was organized by Center for Civic Policy, El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, New Mexico Center on Law & Poverty, New Mexico Working Families Party, New Mexico Voices for Children, OLÉ, Somos Un Pueblo Unido and United Food and Commercial Workers.  

Action Alert: Tell the Governor that NM workers need paid sick leave!

Please call the Governor by Friday and urge her to support paid sick leave!

About half of all workers in New Mexico lack paid sick leave. They have to either go to work sick or lose wages or risk losing their jobs to care for themselves or a loved one. 

HB 20 is being heard today in its final House committee before it moves to the House floor. 

The Governor has stated that paid sick leave might be premature this year. We know New Mexicans need paid sick leave now, especially during a pandemic!

You could share a personal story about why you and other workers need paid time off when you are sick. You could also say or write something like this: “I urge Governor Lujan Grishamto support HB20 for paid sick leave. No one should have to choose between their health and their paycheck, but for the roughly half of all New Mexico workers who lack paid sick leave, this is the reality.”

You can leave her a message via this form: https://secure.everyaction.com/LRhT0gD3g0q0_9f90xoM2Q2

After you fill it out, her office will immediately call you back and ask you to leave a message. It is an automated call and not a live person on the phone.