An open letter to UAW 2865 Elections Committee chair Travis Knowles

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Travis:

Last night three members of the elections committee hastily abandoned the vote count underway at the UCLA office without counting any ballots from Berkeley or UCLA. You presented three motions, certifying the results of the election which had already been tabulated, referring the count to the next Joint Council meeting, and adjourning the meeting. None of these motions passed, since only three members of the committee participated in the “votes.” These “votes” were conducted over the course of less than 10 seconds without any time for discussion or even time for the other three members of the committee to be informed about what was happening. The proposed motion referring the election to the Joint Council is in violation of the UAW constitution, which stipulates, “All elections shall be held under the supervision of a democratically elected Election Committee” (Article 38, Section 15 c). Section 11 stipulates, “Following each election, the Election Committee shall report in writing the canvass of the results of the election to the membership’s next membership meeting.”

The three members of the committee who abandoned the count are in violation of the constitution and are impeding the work of the committee. Please return to the UCLA office immediately to resume the count.

If you refuse to resume the count, I would ask that you submit your resignations effective immediately.

Adam Hefty
Santa Cruz Election Committee member

I’ve been catching a lot of flak lately in the form of politically motivated attacks about private emails I’ve written which have been forwarded, distorted, and characterized out of context, so I decided to make my latest report on the goings-on in the UAW 2865 elections committee a public note.

In short, the committee agreed to an election protocol which has few serious protections against vote tampering, despite strenuous objections. Despite the fact that we are a very large, complicated local with many worksites, next week’s election is highly contested, and our most recent statewide vote was challenged as containing irregularities by members from around the state, the committee was not interested in listening to serious proposals for change.

It’s worth pointing out that when objections were raised at the vote count for December’s ratification vote and at January’s Joint Council meeting, the leadership of the union said repeatedly: “These are very legitimate concerns moving forward; you should raise them on the elections committee, where they belong.” Well, they’ve now been raised on the elections committee, and most of the concerns raised were dismissed without a serious hearing.

There are two substantial changes from the procedure we followed for the contract ratification vote. 1) All ballots, not just challenged ballots, will be placed inside two envelopes: a small envelope to guarantee vote privacy, and a larger one which the voter will sign. This measure is designed to prevent voters from voting twice in the same day at different polling places, given that several copies of the voting list will be circulating on each campus. 2) Each voting period will have its own ballot box, which will be used only once and then (supposedly) sealed until the vote count. Though I wonder how San Diego and Berkeley elections reps are going to travel to a central location in the state, possibly on a plane, carrying 25-30 ballot boxes. (more…)

The following election challenge was submitted in advance of the UAW 2865 Joint Council meeting on Saturday, January 29; it was also read aloud, discussed, and wholly rejected by a majority of the voting members of the body. Some personal thoughts on this process are posted beneath the text of the letter.

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UAW Local 2865 Election Protest

Dear Christine Petit:

The purpose of this letter is to protest the recent contract ratification election of UAW Local 2865, which concluded on December 2, 2010.  As members of the Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWaDU) caucus, we are concerned that certain irregularities in election procedure may have affected the outcome of the election and violated our Local’s bylaws, the UAW Constitution, and/or federal law.

We, the undersigned candidates and members of AWaDU, hereby file a formal election protest.
1. Paid union staffers maintained a purely partisan role, campaigning on behalf of ratification.
2. At the UC Irvine campus, paid staffers were observed and recorded working polling stations, and in at least one instance, representing the voting options in a partisan and biased way in order to influence potential voters. This was in violation of our union’s election procedures.
3. At the UC Santa Barbara campus, polls used a partially-transparent ballot box for three of the four polling days, despite complaints and protests made to the Elections Commission.  Several voters reported feeling uncomfortable voting when their votes could be seen by the poll worker.
4. Ballot boxes and voting rolls left solely in the possession of paid Union staffers after polls closed each day raises serious concerns about ballot-stuffing. These concerns can only be alleviated by making the voting rolls available for review.
5. Ballot boxes were unsatisfactorily sealed, Santa Barbara and Riverside boxes could be opened with a key without damaging signed seal.
6. The Elections Committee did not provide daily vote tallies for all campuses, against the Committee’s own protocol decided days earlier.
7. The chair of the Elections Committee convened Elections Committee meetings with little advance warning. The Chair also facilitated the meetings in a rushed way making it nearly impossible for the elected representatives on the Elections Committee to discuss election procedures in a considered manner. The Chair, moreover, directly contravened decisions made by the Elections Committee, including providing daily vote tallies to all members of the Elections Committee.

These irregularities call into question the fairness of this election and place the election outcome in serious doubt.  Therefore, we demand the following:
1. That the Elections Committee immediately release the voting rolls from this recent election.
2. That a thorough investigation by an independent body, consisting both people who supported and opposed ratification of the contract of this election, be carried out and its report made public in a timely fashion.
3. That, in the event that this investigation uncovers real fraud, this contract ratification be nullified and a new election, supervised by independent, neutral observers, be conducted.
4. That elections protocol, including ballot boxes, be standardized and sufficiently revised to address the concerns raised above in time for the next contested election. In the event an election taking place over multiple days, the vote tallies be taken immediately after the close of voting each day and be reported to the entire Elections Committee.
5. That future elections be monitored by independent, neutral observers.
6. For future elections, the Elections Committee should be convened to make decisions about all elections procedures. The Elections Committee Chair should also release contact information for Elections Committee representatives to all members of the committee.

Sincerely,

Jordan Brocious, Sara Smith, John Bruning, Cheryl Deutsch, Brian Malone, Fabio Chee, Bron Tamulis, Daniel Seneca Lindsey, Robert Wood, Megan Wachspress, Jessy Lancaster, Nick Kardahji, Adam Hefty, Charlie Eaton, Barry Eidlin, Veronique Fortin, Alex Tarr

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