USEJ candidate-elect condemns USEJ call to invalidate election results

The following open letter was written by Matthew Luckett, the recently elected recording secretary for the UCLA unit of UAW 2865.  He was also USEJ’s candidate for sergeant-at-arms on the executive board, though he was defeated by an AWDU candidate.  In what follows, Luckett points out how ridiculous the USEJ call for invalidating the recent election results is:

However, when all of the challenges are counted up, any suspicions of malfeasance will rightly or wrongly fall on the administration caucus, whose candidates are believed to have the most to lose. In other words, if anyone is believed to be guilty of fixing the election, it is us.

The kicker is the concluding call to his USEJ comrades:

Thus, in light of all that we’ve been through during the last few weeks, I call on the USEJ to drop its demand for a new election and to pass the torch to AWDU.

If even elected USEJ leaders are opposing this ridiculous call for a new election, we wonder how they could possibly think they’ll have enough support to get it off the ground.  Desperate times require desperate measures, eh?

Dear colleagues, comrades, and members of the UAW 2865,

My name is Matthew Luckett, and I am the recording secretary-elect for UCLA and a candidate for sergeant at arms in the recent UAW 2865 union election. As a member of the United for Economic and Social Justice caucus, I supported the outgoing administration’s strategic approach to bargaining, as well as the contract we’ve recently ratified. I am also proud of my slate and the campaign we ran, which I believe was mostly fair, honest, and positive, in spite of the election’s heated and divisive tone. However, I am stunned by my caucus’s decision this past weekend to reject the results of the Executive Board and Joint Council election, which we lost by several hundred votes, and to call for a new election.

Although some members of the USEJ slate have valid concerns, there is not enough evidence to justify the disenfranchisement of the thousands who voted several weeks ago and reject wholesale the results of the election. As the UCLA Graduate Students Association has pointed out, both sides are guilty of tit for tat challenges and breeches of protocol (which are inevitable, since we only run these elections once every three years, and few of us have much experience with the process). However, when all of the challenges are counted up, any suspicions of malfeasance will rightly or wrongly fall on the administration caucus, whose candidates are believed to have the most to lose. In other words, if anyone is believed to be guilty of fixing the election, it is us. Therefore, any accusations of illegality against AWDU need to meet an extremely, perhaps impossibly, heavy burden of proof in order for us to avoid being seen as sore losers. Our case needs to be airtight and above reproach, and even the GSA and the Huffington Post must be forced to admit the veracity of our claims. This particular case, however, is not convincing to me. And if I (as someone who has a lot to gain from a new election) am not convinced, then I cannot believe that public opinion will rule in its favor. If anything, I fear that public opinion will come crashing down against it.

Barring the discovery of a smoking gun that proves electoral misconduct, any effort to invalidate the election is sure to backfire. Even if the challenge is won and another election takes place, I will have serious doubts about our union’s ability to win the voters’ trust and confidence that their votes will mean something. Moreover, I will doubt our union’s ability to marshal a united front against the UC during the next round of contract negotiations. As leaders of the union, we must always put the students we serve and their interests above our own, and I am not convinced that this decision was made with those students’ interests at heart.

The first election was a positive event in the long term, even if the results weren’t what we hoped for. Over three thousand students decided to spend anywhere from a few minutes to several weeks of their time participating in a high-stakes, exciting election for the heart and soul of our union. However, the divisions between USEJ and AWDU also generated a lot of hostility and resentment, and these wounds will take time to heal. Thus, given the bad blood and conspiratorial paranoia that has existed among members of both caucuses since the election, I am afraid that a second election will destroy this union.

If our local is important enough to USEJ that they are willing to run once again through the political gauntlet, then its efforts should be devoted towards bringing our union back together. As the fight against the Board of Regent’s proposed 40% tuition hike intensifies, we must not think of ourselves as members of a particular caucus, but as workers united against budget cuts in Sacramento and TA cuts in our home departments.

Finally, on a personal note, I am tired of this election. Many of the other candidates are tired of this election. In fact, I believe that most of the candidates and the vast majority of the voters are ready to move on with their lives and begin the business of rebuilding solidarity within this union. I lost my race for sergeant at arms; it is over. I conceded defeat three weeks ago. I will not wage another campaign for a race that I feel I lost fair and square, and I am having a difficult time empathizing with anyone who is ready to kick off another round.

Thus, in light of all that we’ve been through during the last few weeks, I call on the USEJ to drop its demand for a new election and to pass the torch to AWDU. Likewise, I call on AWDU to refrain from responding to this call with any retaliatory efforts to disenfranchise any of our own voters, so that we may begin to put this election behind us once and for all. Together, we must start fighting on behalf of the rank and file members with a common purpose and a shared resolve.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” In this growing hurricane of budget cuts, ballooning deficits, and corporate schemes to privatize our public universities, the union is the only shelter we have against the storm. So, rather than taking a sledgehammer to the roof, let’s all try to weather it together.

In solidarity,
Matt Luckett
UCLA Recording Secretary-elect, USEJ

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5 responses to “USEJ candidate-elect condemns USEJ call to invalidate election results

  1. Pingback: UCLA AWDU to pursue charges against non-student elected to UAW 2865 leadership position | THOSE WHO USE IT

  2. Pingback: USEJ official condemns USEJ call to invalidate election results … | The Daily Conservative

  3. Pingback: USEJ Candidate Against Further Embarrasment « ucgradstrike

  4. I totally agree with you, Matt. We heard this election protest argued at the statewide meeting on May 21, and it was overwhelming rejected by over 90% of the members in attendance. It is time to move on as a union. We have real work to do this year. The second half of the statewide meeting reflected this sentiment.

  5. Check out leaked e-mails from Charlie Eaton, not the makings of a clean election here, when we have a clearly biased Elections Committee member, Adam Hefty.

    On Apr 15, 2011, at 8:17 AM, Charlie Eaton wrote:

    April 14, 2011

    To: Jorge Cabrera, Southern Vice President, UAW 2865

    cc: Elections Committee, Bylaws Committee, Joint Council, Regional 5 Director, UAW Region 5 International Reps for Academic Locals

    Dear Vice President Cabrera,

    I spoke with Sayil Camacho today at 4:57 pm regarding her acceptance of nomination for the position of Head Steward. I sent the email below following up with her regarding this conversation. In our conversation, Ms. Camacho told me that she signed and gave you a
    membership form to join UAW 2865 in January. The union has a membership form on file for her dated January 14th, 2011.

    Ms. Camacho also told me that she had not ever been a student at UCLA, nor had she even been accepted to a graduate program at UCLA at that time. Rather, she was employed full time as an Organizer/Representative for AFSCME Local 3299 at the time. She indicated that you were aware of this fact at the time.

    As you know, our UAW 2865 Bylaws and UAW Constitution do not permit someone to become a member unless he or she is a graduate student at the time or a worker in and around the workplace.

    Our Bylaws provide:

    “Article 4 Section 1. Membership in this Local Union shall be extended to all graduate students and those employees in titles that come under the jurisdiction of this Local Union.
    Section 2. Membership shall be defined as members in good standing as defined in the Constitution of the International Union, UAW.”

    Our UAW Constitution reads:

    “Article 6 Section 1. … The applicant must, at the time of application, be an actual worker in and around the workplace.”

    Like you, I believe that it is important to work with future students and allies to build our movement to empower workers and students. But it is also important to maintain the integrity of our membership.

    If you knew that Ms. Camacho was not eligible to become a member in good standing under these requirements, why did you accept and submit a membership form from her on January 14, 2011? Under what reasoning could she possibly have been considered eligible to become a member at that time?

    In addition, have you solicited or accepted membership applications from any other persons who may have similar questions regarding their membership to those questions involving Ms. Camacho? If so, have any of these persons accepted nomination to be a candidate in the upcoming Triennial Election?

    Please provide answers to these questions by 4 pm on Friday, April 15th as this information is essential for the Elections Committee to determine the eligibility of Ms. Camacho and possibly others to be a candidate in the upcoming Triennial Election for our local. The Elections Committee Chair has asked that evidence regarding the eligibility of candidates be provided to his committee no later than 5 pm on April 15th. As an officer of the union who is responsible for
    upholding the integrity of our Bylaws, Constitution, membership, and internal elections, I trust you will provide this information promptly.

    In Solidarity,
    Charlie Eaton

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Charlie Eaton
    Date: Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 6:48 PM
    Subject: our conversation today
    To: scamacho@afscme3299.org

    Hi Sayil,

    It was nice to talk to you this afternoon. I was very glad to hear
    that you plan on getting very involved in our union. I think their
    will be lots of opportunities for you help us build UAW 2865 as a
    bottom-up union that can reverse the cuts by empowering students and
    workers.

    Unfortunately, you are not eligible to run for Head Steward at this
    time. You said when we talked today that you had not been accepted to
    a graduate program at UCLA or had ever been a student at UCLA when you
    signed a membership form in January of 2011. Even if you had been
    accepted at that time, you would not have been eligible to join.

    As I shared with you over the phone, our bylaws and constitution do
    not permit you to become a member unless you are a graduate student at
    the time.

    Our Bylaws read:

    “Article 4 Section 1. Membership in this Local Union shall be extended
    to all graduate students and those employees in titles that come under
    the jurisdiction of this Local Union.
    Section 2. Membership shall be defined as members in good standing as
    defined in the Constitution of the International Union, UAW.”

    Our UAW Constitution reads:

    “Article 6 Section 1. … The applicant must, at the time of
    application, be an actual worker in and around the workplace.”

    I hope we can be in touch further about how to work together.

    Best,
    Charlie

    On Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 5:46 PM, Charlie Eaton wrote:
    > Hi everyone,
    >
    > I just talked to Sayil and I wanted to give you a report. The first
    > thing she said to me was how did I get her number? I told her that I
    > had met her at our Joint Council meeting in January and she mentioned
    > Ed Gutierrez was a mutual friend. So I asked him for her number to
    > get in touch with her about the election.
    >
    > I then asked her if she knew that it was questionable whether she
    > could run in the election. She said she was offended I would ask and
    > was eager to get involved. I said I was really excited she would be
    > getting involved but that we had some clear eligibility rules to stick
    > by to make sure the election was fair. I asked if Jorge Cabrera, one
    > of the current Executive Officers of 2865, who she had brought up as
    > someone she has worked with, had told her about the eligibility
    > requirements in our constitution and Bylaws. I then shared with her
    > the relevant bylaws and articles in the constitution which were these:
    >
    > From our Bylaws:
    >
    > Article 4 Section 1. Membership in this Local Union shall be extended
    > to all graduate students and those employees in titles that come under
    > the jurisdiction of this Local Union.
    > Section 2. Membership shall be defined as members in good standing as
    > defined in the Constitution of the International Union, UAW.
    >
    > From the UAW Constitution:
    >
    > Article 6 Section 1. … The applicant must, at the time of
    > application, be an actual worker in and around the workplace.
    >
    > In general, she was pretty hostile. So I think the chances of her
    > withdrawing and endorsing us are pretty slim. I think it might make
    > sense for Adam to pose questions in writing about her eligibility and
    > introduce a motion on the Elections Committee to remove her as a
    > candidate? What do others think?
    >
    > The situation is so clear cut. That Jorge and Daraka think they can
    > put her on the slate by executive fiat really underscores to me what a
    > fantasy world they live in.
    >
    > Best,
    > Charlie
    >
    > On Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 10:51 AM, Charlie Eaton wrote:
    >> Hi,
    >>
    >> I have also called a mutual friend Ed Gutierrez from AFSCME in LA to
    >> ask for her number. I could pass it on to you if I get it.
    >>
    >> Best,
    >> Charlie
    >>
    >> On Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 10:48 AM, Elise Youn wrote:
    >>> Hi everyone,
    >>>
    >>> I asked Dustianne if she might be able to find and talk to Sayil (Sayil
    >>> defriended me on Facebook so I would feel strange, plus I don’t know how to
    >>> find her), but I don’t think this will be easy if she’s friends with Jorge
    >>> for a few years as I indeed heard from my source AND she was recruiting
    >>> other candidates for head steward for the admin caucus on top of that.
    >>>
    >>> If Dustianne feels comfortable and can manage to talk to her by tomorrow,
    >>> great. But if not, I think we already have a very clear case to contest her
    >>> nomination, being that Adam saw her card and she’s only been a member for 88
    >>> days, which is against the 90-day rule. If Dustianne can’t locate her, I
    >>> think the best course of action may be to write a letter contesting Sayil’s
    >>> nomination with the polite line that Adam sugggests about: “This is not a
    >>> personal criticism of Sayil, who is a respected activist in the UCLA
    >>> community and will be a valued member of our union just as soon as she is
    >>> eligible for membership.”
    >>>
    >>> Elise
    >>>
    >>>
    >>>
    >>>
    >>> On Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 10:32 AM, Jordan Brocious
    >>> wrote:
    >>>>
    >>>> I signed up early, yes, at a statewide membership meeting after I was
    >>>> accepted. I have TA’d for 3 quarters, and I’m currently the Recording
    >>>> Secretary. They got their damn dues and even some VCAP before I put an end
    >>>> to it (Democrats! ugh!). It would seem to be a very weak case to say that
    >>>> you must sign up after employment starts to ever be valid, instead of
    >>>> becoming a member in good standing when employment starts.
    >>>>
    >>>> I think some LA folks should talk to her.
    >>>>
    >>>> jordan
    >>>>
    >>>>
    >>>>
    >>>> On Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 8:06 AM, Megan Wachspress
    >>>> wrote:
    >>>>>
    >>>>> One point about the Jordan thing: Has he worked as a GSI/Reader/Tutor? If
    >>>>> so, has the 1.15% union membership dues been deducted? If so, I don’t think
    >>>>> there should be any questions about membership…
    >>>>>
    >>>>> On Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 2:46 AM, Adam Dylan Hefty
    >>>>> wrote:
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> Hey all, some more thoughts – please don’t forward for now.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> 1) From all we know Sayil is not eligible for membership. She is an
    >>>>>> AFSCME organizer planning to attend the grad school of education at UCLA
    >>>>>> fall 2011, not yet enrolled.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> From our Bylaws:
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> Article 4 Section 1. Membership in this Local Union shall be extended to
    >>>>>> all graduate students and
    >>>>>> those employees in titles that come under the jurisdiction of this Local
    >>>>>> Union.
    >>>>>> Section 2. Membership shall be defined as members in good standing as
    >>>>>> defined in the
    >>>>>> Constitution of the International Union, UAW.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> From the UAW Constitution:
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> Article 6 Section 1. … The applicant must, at the time of application,
    >>>>>> be an actual worker in and around the workplace.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> 2) As it turns out they say she signed a card on 1/14/2011. To run for
    >>>>>> head steward, you have to have been a member in good standing for 90 days.
    >>>>>> The election deadline was 4/12/2011. As far as I can tell, then, even if she
    >>>>>> was eligible for membership, she had only been a member for 88 days as of
    >>>>>> the nomination deadline.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> 3) This is delicate – but we might want to ask AFSCME why one of their
    >>>>>> organizers is running for election in our union when she’s not yet eligible
    >>>>>> for membership, particularly in a highly contested election.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> 4) Pushback around eligibility at time of signup: if we argue that Sayil
    >>>>>> was not eligible for membership when she signed up (evidently in January),
    >>>>>> they may argue that Jordan was not eligible either at the time he signed up.
    >>>>>> Given that he’s now a second-year grad student, this should be a moot point.
    >>>>>> If his application for membership was submitted early, it should be honored
    >>>>>> once he’s eligible. But I worry that they might try to argue that his
    >>>>>> original membership application was void, and he hasn’t submitted another,
    >>>>>> or something like that.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> 5) Political pushback: if Sayil is well-respected at UCLA, as Elise
    >>>>>> says, it might backfire for us to be seen as attacking her. Any letter folks
    >>>>>> send should be polite and even include a sentence such as, “This is not a
    >>>>>> personal criticism of Sayil, who is a respected activist in the UCLA
    >>>>>> community and will be a valued member of our union just as soon as she is
    >>>>>> eligible for membership.”
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> Thoughts?
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> Adam
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> On Wed, Apr 13, 2011 at 10:49 PM, Charlie Eaton
    >>>>>> wrote:
    >>>>>>>
    >>>>>>> This violates the definition of member in good standing — even if she
    >>>>>>> signed a membership card. You have to be an enrolled graduate student
    >>>>>>> to be eligible to join. I think someone who is not a candidate should
    >>>>>>> write a letter about this immediately. Maybe Elise Youn.
    >>>>>>>
    >>>>>>> On Wed, Apr 13, 2011 at 10:39 PM, Adam Dylan Hefty
    >>>>>>> wrote:
    >>>>>>> > Dear all,
    >>>>>>> >
    >>>>>>> > The elections committee met tonight to go over candidate nomination
    >>>>>>> > acceptances. There were two people who submitted nominations who were
    >>>>>>> > not
    >>>>>>> > judged to be members in good standing: Lisa Millora at UCLA and Rob
    >>>>>>> > Connell
    >>>>>>> > at Berkeley. They have until Friday at 5 PM to attempt to prove their
    >>>>>>> > membership.
    >>>>>>> >
    >>>>>>> > There’s one other nomination I would consider contested: Sayil
    >>>>>>> > Camacho at
    >>>>>>> > UCLA. UCLA activists have told me that she is an AFSCME organizer who
    >>>>>>> > is not
    >>>>>>> > planning to enroll until Fall 2011. According to workers in the
    >>>>>>> > statewide
    >>>>>>> > office, she signed a membership card in January. I asked if people
    >>>>>>> > who
    >>>>>>> > signed a membership card but aren’t enrolled can run. Fawn pointed
    >>>>>>> > out that
    >>>>>>> > someone (I think she meant Jordan) was running who signed a
    >>>>>>> > membership card
    >>>>>>> > in April, before he started grad school – though we’re talking April
    >>>>>>> > 09, so
    >>>>>>> > this argument has no bearing on his candidacy.
    >>>>>>> >
    >>>>>>> > I plan to go into the statewide office and ask Donna (who is
    >>>>>>> > responsible to
    >>>>>>> > provide this information per the UAW local election guide) to show me
    >>>>>>> > proof
    >>>>>>> > of membership for Sayil and to look for proof of membership for Rob.
    >>>>>>> > Hopefully Philippe, Lizzy and I can coordinate a time to do this
    >>>>>>> > together.
    >>>>>>> >
    >>>>>>> > All other AWDU candidates seem to have been preliminarily accepted.
    >>>>>>> > If you’d
    >>>>>>> > like to see your soon-to-be opponents, I’ve entered them into our
    >>>>>>> > protected
    >>>>>>> > google doc:
    >>>>>>> >
    >>>>>>> > https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AsaA5o6MGNwIdF91Wk81aDlqQ05nUmlWTkVuX2pEQkE&hl=en#gid=0
    >>>>>>> > . Let me know if you would like access. (You can already see the
    >>>>>>> > other
    >>>>>>> > side’s slate at http://www.uniteduc.org/home/slate ; I haven’t yet
    >>>>>>> > cross-checked these.)
    >>>>>>> >
    >>>>>>> > Best,
    >>>>>>> >
    >>>>>>> > Adam
    >>>>>>> >
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>
    >>>>
    >>>
    >>>
    >>
    >

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