Former UAW 2865 President and Admin Caucus/USEJ stalwart Daraka Larimore-Hall just can’t get enough. When the Daily Cal asked him what he thought of the election results, he replied:
This is a strong and powerful organization that can certainly roll with a change in leadership, so long as members of AWDU challenge their leaders to stop the tactics of intimidation, misinformation, lying and personal character assassination that they led with in the campaign.
Yes, it’s now “a strong and powerful organization.” For the first time in the local’s history, it will hold a statewide membership meeting a week from today. The turnout in this election was more than double that of the last contested election, though we should point out that contested elections have been the exception in 2865. People now come to unit membership meetings. Steward (let alone head steward) positions are now filled. AWDU’s victory marks the democratization of the union, a marked victory for its rank-and-file.
Before we look toward using our union as a revitalized means of fighting management and resisting austerity measures, we can’t resist pointing out how ridiculous Larimore-Hall’s statement is in light of his own campaign. Check it:
- Intimidation: When two AWDU members were elected to the e-board in a mid-semester vacancy election, Larimore-Hall worked with employees of the UAW International (including former 2865 President Christine Petit) on a “secret investigation” — Petit’s words — of both of them, announcing the witch hunt at the first post-vacancy election joint council meeting. Petit confirmed that the investigation began during AWDU’s organizing for a no vote on the last contract and may’ve included a handful of other AWDU members.
- Misinformation: Immediately after the USEJ-controlled elections committee unilaterally stopped the counting of ballots, Larimore-Hall insisted that the count has halted due to “apparent fraud on the part of AWDU supporters at UC Berkeley and AWDU’s politcally-motivated [sic] challenges to counting the votes at UCLA.” No evidence was ever produced to support the former charge (unless you count the laughable photo of “tampering”; see Lying below), and the latter was based on roughly 45 ballots challenged at UCLA. The USEJ-controlled elections committee determined prior to voting that all ballots had to be sealed inside two envelopes. About 45 ballots at UCLA were found in either one envelope or none at all. This constitutes a “politcally-motivated [sic] challenge”? Challenging ballots is fundamental to any democratic election, politically-motivated or otherwise. This is precisely why an elections committee exists. And seriously, this from the side that challenged multiple entire boxes of ballots at Berkeley?
- Lying: This one is priceless. In an email sent to presumably hundreds if not thousands of potential voters and reposted on the USEJ blog, Larimore-Hall claimed, “An AWDU supporter at Berkeley was photographed opening and rummaging through the ballot box while polls were open.” As has now been demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt, the picture in question portrays a poll worker setting up the ballot box before the polls even opened. Since the only USEJ campaigners on the UC Berkeley campus that day were Larimore-Hall and then Financial Secretary Donna Fenton, and since Fenton was at North Gate for the duration of the day, we can only presume that Larimore-Hall took the picture himself and willfully misinformed members. He has yet to respond to these allegations.
- Personal character assassination: Another great one. In a press release entitled “United for Social and Economic Justice Calls on AWDU to Drop Unscrupulous Election Tactics,” Larimore-Hall is quoted as saying, “Our team called on all candidates to run positive, constructive campaigns that focus on our respective accomplishments as leaders in our union. Unfortunately, AWDU has chosen to take the low road by harassing and intimidating members of the United for Social and Economic Justice team.” This is why we laughed out loud when just a few lines later, USEJ alleges, “In addition, ‘AWDU’ members have also decreased scientists’ and engineers’ access to polling stations at UC Santa Cruz. ‘AWDU’ leaders Charlie Eaton and Cheryl Deutsch attempted unsuccessfully to restrict the number of voting days from 3 to 1. Unfortunately, AWDU’s dirty tricks and mudslinging are likely to worsen. A former ‘AWDU’ supporter has written this letter decrying ‘AWDU’s’ campaign stunts as ‘baseless’ and ‘politically motivated.'” If you’re a glutton for unsubstantiated personal attacks, check out some more of their craziness.
The real question is how many members of the Admin Caucus old guard will remain involved in the union. We suspect that a number of them will seek jobs elsewhere, given that many of them aren’t grad students anyway and thus have no interest in involvement short of a paycheck. We hope we’re proven wrong, but something tells us we won’t be. In any case, we’re thrilled that our union is controlled by the rank-and-file for the first time in its history. Good riddance to autocratic rule in the name of “unity.”
All power to the rank-and-file!