UCLA Grad Students Association calls on Admin Caucus to cut the shit and count the votes

Update: The Grad Student Association at UC Davis just passed the following resolution:

In light of the controversial decision to halt the voting count for the leadership of UAW local 2865 last Saturday, the GSA is pleased to observe that the voting shall resume tomorrow, Thursday May 5th at 9:00 am. Furthermore, the GSA urges the Elections committee to finalize the voting procedure according to the bylaws of UAW 2865 and with due diligence, impartiality, and speed.

Check out the following letter from UCLA’s GSA, which we’re reposting — it originally appeared here — below.

GSA Officers Call on UAW Leaders to Resume Elections UPDATED

May 3, 2011 – 3:30pm

UPDATE:
We are pleased to learn that the UAW Elections Committee, USEJ, and AWDU agreed to a proposal to resume counting ballots on Thursday morning. We applaud the ability for all sides to come together after a contentious and bitter week. This agreement, though as of yet unfulfilled, is a step forward. Below is our original statement, in solidarity with union voters, demanding that their ballots be counted.

As this story gets more convoluted by the day we feel our analysis, still viewable below, may only increase in importance. Our role, as we specified in our original post, was not to parse through dozens of competing and conflicting claims to provide a definitive history of the situation, but to try and cut through this situation with a political analysis based on verifiable facts on the ground and those developments occurring during the immediate time this post was written that could be easily shown to be true or false: the problematic claim of vote tampering, the existence of an AWDU sit-in to protect ballots that they ought not be required to protect, and the fact that the discrediting of remaining ballots benefitted one side most decisively. Those interested in a definitive history are still encouraged to attempt to construct one through the websites provided below.

Fellow graduate students,

You may have been following the recent elections of union officials for UAW 2865, the union representing student academic employees including GSRs, teaching assistants, tutors and readers across the UC. Under normal circumstances we would not need to comment on these elections, as they are intended to be a straightforward matter of student-workers making a choice. However, it is precisely this ability to choose that is now at stake. As graduate student advocates, we are intervening to bring a measure of clarity in an important matter unfolding on our campus that involves our fellow students.

There is a possibility that ballots from UCLA and Berkeley will not be counted, representing nearly half of all voters in this election. We cannot reconstruct a moment-by-moment history of these elections. Suffice it to say, the UAW Elections Committee, possibly in violation of bylaws, suspended the vote count before tallying ballots from UCLA and Berkeley after it had been determined totals from other campuses would likely result in a victory for the incumbent slate, United for Social and Economic Justice (USEJ). The Elections Committee voted to defer further counting to a Joint Council meeting approximately two months away and fled the scene before objections could be heard.

While it is possible to read these events as fairly straight forward and unproblematic, we find a few key developments and political realities troubling.

1. There is a general consensus of those close to the election is that there is a fair or better chance that when UCLA and Berkeley are counted the challenging slate, Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) will win, though this is speculation. However, if those ballots are not counted, incumbent slate USEJ will win.

2. The logic of self-interest leads to distinct political strategies for each slate. USEJ incumbents benefit most from a strategy that invalidates remaining uncounted ballots. AWDU challengers, who have the chance to win if all ballots are counted, benefit most from a strategy that protects the ballots.

3. The incumbent president of the union so far appears engaged in a strategy consistent with the self-interest of USEJ. Daraka Larimore-Hall widely distributed a misleading email and blog accusing AWDU of preventing the ballots from being counted and accusing them of vote-tampering. His evidence was a picture of an alleged AWDU supporter opening and reaching into a ballot box at Berkeley. It has since been confirmed that this picture captures a volunteer poll worker setting up a voting station before voting began. It is unlikely that this posting was a misunderstanding, given that the picture in question fails to depict key elements of an active station, elements that should be apparent to the union president who was actively engaged in the campaign. His accusations could only cast doubt upon the validity of the ballots, a move that benefits him.

4. AWDU is engaging in a campaign consistent with their self-interest (and we might add, the interests of voters), and has locked the ballots in a room that they cannot open (though USEJ can). They are also currently filming the ballots and you can watch them twenty-four hours a day on live feed. In addition, AWDU activists from three campuses have been camping out at the union office on Hilgard, guarding the ballots and waiting for the count to resume. Accordingly. we find it hard to believe claims of AWDU obstructionism.

5. Considering the justifiable suspicion of unethical conduct, based on troubling behavior of those who stand to gain from postponing or prematurely ending the election, a two-month waiting period may be too long to protect the ballots from doubt of corruption and ultimate disqualification before the counting process resumes.

We call on the UAW leadership and Elections Committee to do the right thing and count the votes. We find the apparent willingness of current leadership to postpone this election and falsely taint the votes of members to be extremely troubling sign of a strategy based on self-interest, unbefitting those seeking further terms in power. We believe this union is too crucial to the wellbeing of teachers and those they teach for leadership to play into stereotypes of bad unions, but the problems too important not to acknowledge and attempt to rectify. There is only one way to insure fairness not only to both sides, but most importantly to voters, and that is to count the votes now. Let the chips fall wherever they may.

Signed,

Cheye-Ann Corona, VP of External Affairs
Luis Limon, VP of Internal Affairs
Kimberlina McKinney, VP of Academic Affairs
Jason Ball, Communications Director

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