After halting the vote count last night (in the face of a possible AWDU victory), UAW President Daraka Larimore-Hall sent a frantic (and bizarre) email to thousands of members across the UC system.  While we assume that most members will treat this email much like they treat any spam, a friend and colleague at UCSD has responded to Larimore-Hall reasonably and patiently.  We think this response effectively demolishes Larimore-Hall’s late-night ramblings and we publish relevant excerpts below:

“Later in the evening, I was forwarded an e-mail that Mr. Larimore-Hall allegedly sent to a list of supporters making allegations of vote tampering and homophobic slurs from AWDU representatives.  Regardless of truth value, the decision to air this kind of dirty laundry in public seems to pose a threat to the bargaining strength of our union.  It suggests to the University and the public more broadly that we are incapable of settling disputes and differences of opinion within our ranks in an orderly manner.  It feeds popular misconceptions about union corruption.  It also feeds misconceptions within the University about the immaturity of graduate students. Surely there must have been a tactful way to address your concerns of fraud and bullying that would have more properly balanced the rights of members to know the nature of the current disputes over the election, and yet also would have stopped short of feeding the types of popular misconceptions about the lack of process, democracy and maturity within graduate student communities and within organized labor.

“More alarmingly, some of the evidence to which Mr. Larimore-Hall points is dubious in the extreme.  He provides a photograph of an unnamed “AWDU supporter” that he claims is “opening and rummaging through” a ballot box while polls are open.  The photographic evidence does not seem to justify this claim in any way; the poll worker’s face is not visible, making him impossible to identify as an “AWDU supporter.”  The contents of the box are not visible, meaning that this could easily be a picture of somebody assembling an empty box rather than someone rummaging through a filled box.  Moreover, there is no tape on the top of the box (as there would be had it been sealed shut in order to accept ballots) further suggesting that the photograph does not actually depict what Mr. Larimore-Hall claims it does.  The supposed infraction is taking place in broad daylight and in a very public place (with neutral parties in plain sight); this seems a wholly unlikely scenario in which fraud would occur without being detected and stopped by a member of the public or of the union. No explanation is given as to why the person who took the photo did not immediately step in to prevent and report the alleged fraud as it was taking place.  I could probably go on and on.

“Once again, what’s at stake here is much larger than the substance of the claim that has been submitted.  Even if one were to assume that this is genuine evidence of election fraud – and nothing about the photo adequately justifies this claim – the decision to release such poor evidence of fraud in such a public manner, prior to any review hearings or any systematic response has been made, places Mr. Larimore-Hall’s judgment and discretion under suspicion and sheds a poor light on the union.

“My point in writing this letter is not to diminish the serious nature of the allegations of fraud being made at the moment.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Charges of election fraud cast a long shadow on the actions of our union, and should be dealt with systematically, swiftly and with a realization that any verifiable instances of fraud stain not only to the person found guilty, but also the democratic structures and representative capabilities of our union as a whole. Given this seriousness, and given the gravity of the charges being made, it seems wholly inappropriate for evidence of fraud to be released to the public before it has been vetted and judged for accuracy by a systematic, neutral body of our union like the elections committee or a full, closed membership meeting.  When the evidence carries with it the obvious problems that I’ve noted in this case, the public release of these allegations is downright shameful.

“My hope is that the e-mail released under Mr. Larimore-Hall’s name was either a forgery, or was released publicly in error and haste.  If this is not the case, I urge him to retract these allegations pending a formal hearing and publicly acknowledge the impropriety of his e-mail.   This seems fully warranted regardless of the truth of the allegations and the outcome of the elections.  Should Mr. Larimore- Hall fail to take these actions, he risks embarrassing our union and himself, something that I’m sure he’s not eager to do given his long service to UAW 2865.”