Dona Ana County Sheriffs Choose CWA Over FOP

CWA defeated the Fraternal Order of Police, 54-51, on Jan. 19, as 104 deputies and sergeants in the Dona Ana County, N.M., Sheriff's Department chose the union that would represent their bargaining unit of 110. Six officers were ineligible to vote because they had not yet attained permanent status on the job.

"This election victory is very important for our local and will give us the momentum to pick up other public safety groups throughout New Mexico," said CWA Local 7911 President Steve Harvey.

The victory brings the total of public safety employees represented by the local to about 400. All in New Mexico, they include the Rio Rancho Public Safety Department, Farmington Police, Santa Fe County Deputies, Otero County Deputies, Alamagordo Public Safety and Socorro County Deputies.

John Burpo, director of the National Coalition of Public Safety Officers-CWA, said the campaign took about 18 months because of local boards taking time to implement procedures for compliance with New Mexico's new collective bargaining law and because of confusion over which labor board – state or county – would hold jurisdiction in the election.

Also, Burpo said, the FOP tried unsuccessfully to dilute CWA's strength by petitioning to add lieutenants, civilian managers and dispatchers to the unit.

Local part-time organizer Sean Bergen and Deputy James Lee played key roles in a campaign built upon raising wages and improving working conditions.