Update from AWDU on what the hell is going on

Dear Fellow Students,

We are writing to you to inform you of the current state of the UAW 2865 Triennial Elections. For details on events leading up to the current situation, please see www.awdu.org.

We are currently holding an indefinite sit-down at the statewide union office (2070 Allston Way, Suite 205, Berkeley) and at our union office in Los Angeles (900 Hilgard Ave., Suite 307) where about 1,500 ballots remain sealed and uncounted. We will continue our sit-down until all votes are counted!

We welcome you to these open spaces and hope you will join us with energy and ideas for what you want to see happen! At Berkeley, we will hold two membership meetings each day, at 10AM and at 6PM, but feel free to drop by anytime!

On a conference call Monday (May 2nd) afternoon, Mike Miller, our representative to the International UAW, agreed that the neglected votes should be counted. We urged him to contact Elections Committee members to reconvene and count the remaining ballots as soon as possible. Members are waiting at this moment for the election committee to resume counting.

We have the support of fifty-plus labor scholars and faculty members. You can find their letter of support here: http://berkeleyuaw.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/a-call-for-the-immediate-resumption-of-vote-counts-at-uaw-2865-05-02-11-1100am.pdf. We also received statements of support and solidarity from ILWU representatives, the Graduate Assembly at Berkeley and the Berkeley Labor Commission. Please show your support by signing the following non-sectarian petition that calls for a resumption of the count: http://www.awdu.org/count-all-of-the-votes.

If you want details regarding the challenges to ballots as expressed in the multiple emails sent by Daraka Larimore-Hall, the incumbent president of our Local and United for Social and Economic Justice (USEJ), please continue to read below. If you prefer simplicity skip this section: however, please consider signing the petition to get the count restarted.

Daraka Larimore-Hall sent a second of two dramatic emails to many UAW 2865 members on Sunday night. This time, though he continued to attack Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) with baseless charges, he framed his attack as a call for the resumption of the ballot count — which had been abandoned by his allies on Saturday, April 30 at 8pm. However, we were surprised by their demand for special conditions (diverging from normal counting procedures) before counting resumes. The union already has a procedure, laid out in the bylaws (Article 14 section 7) and the election must follow that procedure.

Vote counting is not the product of a negotiation between two slates. It is a democratic process that has bylaws and which had been agreed upon by the Elections Committee at the start of ballot counting. We have followed those rules before and we are prepared to follow those rules now. We are happy to stand together with USEJ in resuming the ballot-counting under the normal election procedures in which (most) challenges are set aside until after the count and then dealt with under procedures laid out in the bylaws and previously agreed upon.

Challenges are an expected part of the vote-counting process, and most do not, according to the bylaws, require counting to stop. But legitimate challenges must be taken seriously. Since the recent email from Daraka Larimore-Hall labels our challenges frivolous and politically motivated, we will describe exactly what our main challenges were and why they matter.

One of our most serious challenges was to an entire ballot box from UCLA in which none of the individual ballots were sealed inside any envelope at all. These are spoiled ballots according to established election procedures, and at the time of that challenge the entire election committee allowed the challenge to stand.

The challenge at UCSD was agreed on by the committee and challengers from both slates. An entire box was filled with ballots that were inside one envelope (marked “secret”), but lacking the second envelope signed by the voter. Normally, the process with such ballots is to mark them as spoiled, and this had been done previously with single ballots, but because this was felt by all to be a case of poll-worker error, the box was set aside as challenged, to be dealt with after the remaining votes were counted.

Regarding the bizarre assertion of ballot stuffing, supported only with a non-time-stamped photograph, we have identified the volunteer poll worker (not an AWDU activist) in the photograph, who was putting together the ballot box in the morning before the voting started. Here is his statement about this sordid accusation: http://www.awdu.org/statement-from-the-poll-worker-accused-of-vote-tampering.

Thank you so much for your interest and concern and please join us in insisting that unions be democratic and we count our ballots,

Activists within Academic Workers for a Democratic Union

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