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.