Dear fellow graduate students and members of UAW Local 2865,
Our internal union Elections Committee has been conducting a vote count for a contentious election for the Local’s top elected leadership. As the count proceeded, it appeared possible that our slate of reformers, Academic Workers for a Democratic Union would win the election. At 8 pm Saturday night (April 30), the incumbent-controlled election committee abruptly decided to terminate the vote count without having counted more than 1,500 ballots — nearly half the ballots cast.
For the last two days, approximately 3,200 votes from this election were being counted at the UAW office at UCLA. According to numerous observers in the room, it became increasingly apparent that Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) was likely to win the Executive Board of our union, as well as a majority on the Joint Council. At 5 PM on April 30 the chair of the Elections Committee, Travis Knowles of UCSD, took a three-hour break to caucus with USEJ candidate and incumbent Jorge Cabrera. When Knowles returned, he announced that the Elections Committee would certify the counted ballots, adjourn, and leave the rest of the ballots uncounted. This motion did not actually pass (only three of seven committee members were allowed to vote). Even so, Knowles then fled the room–accompanied by the members of the Elections Committee who had consistently voted in the interests of the incumbent candidates. They left behind all of the ballots. They abandoned the election.
Knowles’s message was followed by a bizarre email from UAW President Daraka Larimore-Hall in which he accused AWDU of trying to steal the election he is currently in the process of stealing. This email is a monument to indiscriminate falsehood. He linked to a picture taken at Berkeley before polls opened (in which a poll worker was putting together the ballot box for that day’s vote–note the angle of the early morning sun from the East) as evidence for AWDU tampering. He accused an AWDU candidate of using a “homophobic slur,” apparently hoping to elide the fact that seven out of ten AWDU candidates for Executive Board identify as gay or bisexual.
All but two of the Elections Committee members abandoned all of the election materials in the union’s Los Angeles conference room, including boxes of more than 1,500 uncounted ballots from UCLA and Berkeley union members.
UAW 2865 members at the office left all materials in the conference room exactly as the materials were when the Elections Committee abandoned the vote count. They then locked the conference room to preserve the integrity of the ballots. These ballots are still sealed within their voting boxes and within individual signed and sealed envelopes. UAW 2865 members and reform activists are now at the LA office monitoring so that the ballots are not tampered with until they can be counted.
Members of AWDU are currently looking into all possible legal and administrative remedies. By fleeing the ballot count the Elections Committee is both denying due process to hundreds of members and violating UAW 2865 bylaws that insist ballots be treated with far more circumspection. We will be in touch soon to talk about what we can all do together to prevent this election from being stolen.
However, right now, we suggest you contact the following people and tell them you think the ballots ought to be counted and democracy maintained:
President Daraka Larimore-Hall firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President Jorge Cabrera email@example.com
Financial Secretary Donna Fenton firstname.lastname@example.org
Elections Committee Chair Travis Knowles email@example.com
We need to stop business-as-usual at the UAW until they COUNT ALL THE VOTES.
If you are in the LA area, please come out and visit us. The office
is at 900 Hilgard Ave at the corner of Le Conte near the UCLA campus.