Elected by Acclamation? That sounds great! When did I vote?

6 Feb

Thursday evening you should have received an email from our local announcing the “election results” for 46 newly filled positions on our Joint Council and Executive board. We are thrilled that a large number of these newly elected leaders are reform-minded members of our local, many actively working with AWDU. With these newly seated positions, reform members are only a few seats shy of being a majority in our local’s Joint Council—though the Executive Board remains firmly against our efforts. Here’s the press release we sent out about these “election results.”

But if you’re confused about when this election happened, it’s alright. You didn’t sleep through the vote, because it didn’t happen. Here’s what did:

Before our semester began, Berkeley AWDU members requested that the local hold vacancy elections to fill empty positions on the Joint Council (made up of all the head stewards, recording secretaries and unit chairs from every campus. Check out this chart for more info on how our local is structured). Until this election only 28 out of a possible 80 positions on our Joint Council were filled. How is our local supposed to be in touch with the needs of its members when dozens of head steward positions remain empty? For AWDU, this is one of the clearest signs that the current leadership does not take the needs of its members seriously.

Since getting the vacancy election announced, AWDU members on almost every campus worked to educate members about the election and the open positions, encouraging rank-and-file members who want to see our local become an active and democratic one to run for a position.

But even though many of these positions have been unfilled for months or years, once the current leadership heard about this push to run candidates, they worked to recruit their own candidates. What it came down to was this: suddenly we had a contested election on our hands, meaning multiple candidates for a single position. That is typically what an election looks like–but not in our local, where uncontested elections are the rule of the day.

Additionally, four AWDU members who were running for positions were disqualified on a technicality: though they sent in their nominations on time, the emails went to their campus email addresses, not the “elections” email address. Twice the elections committee of our local voted to exclude these candidates from the ballot.

As AWDU members prepared for the election, writing press releases and circulating candidate statements so that members would know what we’re about—suddenly, we were notified that an entire slate of candidates were withdrawing their nominations. In fact, precisely enough candidates withdrew to make the election “uncontested”—or in other words, there wouldn’t be an election. The remaining candidates were suddenly elected “by acclamation.”

Why call off the election? AWDU believes that union members should have the right to choose their leadership and know who is representing them! That’s why we have elected leadership, after all. But the candidates who withdrew from the election—a number of whom already hold leadership positions or are paid staff members—seemed not to relish the idea of all those AWDU candidate statements flooding the inboxes of our membership.

So, now for the first time that any of us can remember, our JC is almost completely full and every campus has a majority of head stewards in place! We do want you to know who these people are, so you can check out the candidate statements of the newly elected Berkeley unit chair and head stewards here.

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5 Responses to “Elected by Acclamation? That sounds great! When did I vote?”

    • AWaDU supporter February 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      That article in the Aggie is clearly bogus. I mean, everyone knows that Academic Workers for a Democratic Union is abbreviated AWaDU. Get it right!

  1. anonymous February 8, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    I don’t understand why it’s objectionable that the election was conceded – didn’t they concede in an attempt to foster unity and hear exactly the points you may have? That’s what the statement at http://meweird.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/the-future-of-our-union/ says, anyway.

    Also, there’s the triennial election in May. Plenty of time to get view across there.

  2. PM February 9, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    The problem is not primarily the concession of this particular election (as you said, maybe people just preferred to not campaign twice, now and later in May).

    However, their statement doesn’t say “okay, we’ll have contested elections in May”. Rather, their statement implies that contested elections are inherently counterproductive as they (1) take time away from other union tasks and (2) undermine the unity of the union.

    The first argument (taking time and resources) could apply universally to any election system in the world. Of course democracy requires more time spent in elections and debautes compared to an absence of democracy, are they really implying that it’s a reason to not have it?

    The second argument supposes that unity is best achieved by closing down any debate on what we should do as a union, rather than by having an open debate and then rallying around the majority position. The question is, if you’re not debating these issues freely, how can you make sure you’re really representing some “united voice” of your members?

  3. anon February 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Calling a contested election “infighting” seems kinda petty to me. Especially if in the same breath they denied three people’s ability to run for office based in a total technicality.

    Really, which is less democratic? And which is more infighty?

    Running an opposition candidate so that members can discuss and decide for themselves, or denying one side’s ability to participate based on a mis-sent (but still received) email?

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