Communication from the Sit Down to UAW leadership

2 May

This message was sent from the members sitting down at the statewide office of our local at 5pm today.

To the Elections Committee, the incumbent Executive Board, Regional Director Jim Wells and International Representatives Mike Miller and Ken Lang:

We are members of UAW 2865 from UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz. We are writing from the statewide office of our local where members have been present since 9am. At 11:30am today more than 100 members rallied on Berkeley campus and more than 60 joined the ongoing sit down in the office to make one demand: count our votes.

We understand that the USEJ candidates and Daraka Larimore-Hall have publicly committed in an email sent Saturday night to resume the vote count, and Mike Miller has expressed his commitment to resuming the vote count as soon as possible in a call with Cheryl Deutsch and Charlie Eaton today. We are very happy to hear this commitment. From the moment that Travis Knowles, chair of the elections committee, passed an out of order motion to end the vote count and then abandon the ballots we have been waiting for the vote count to resume.

We believe that the vote count must resume immediately and we are committed to remain in our union office until the counting of the votes is finished. We find it outrageous that the elections committee left the vote count without any plan for ensuring the security of the ballots at the UCLA union office. It has been left up to the goodwill of members—the same members who are being accused of disrupting the vote count—to secure and monitor the ballots.

We take inspiration from the sit down strikes of the 1930s upon which UAW’s strength was founded that showed that the best way to enforce our rights as workers and union members is to take collective action. As union members we affirm our right to be in our union office, especially at this moment when so many members are confused, disappointed and frustrated and are seeking to discuss and coordinate our response to this shocking suspension of our democratic rights.

Of course, we also believe that the organizing and clerical staff of the local have every right to be here and continue their work given that our presence in no way impedes their work. It goes without saying that we will respect this space which after all belongs to us, the members.

We await your immediate reply affirming your commitment to restart the vote count.

Members of UAW 2865


SIT-DOWN underway in Berkeley UAW office

2 May

A letter from one member and Head Steward, explaining why she’s sitting-down at the UAW statewide office in Berkeley. Please join us NOW!

Update 1:30pm: Following the 11:30 rally on Berkeley campus more than 60 members from UC Davis, Santa Cruz and Berkeley including supporters are sitting down in the statewide office. The body voted to continue this sit down indefinitely until the vote count resumes. We call upon all members who want their votes counted to join us!

Dear friends and fellow union members.

This weekend I witnessed one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in my life. On Friday the counting of votes in our union leadership election began in LA. I drove down with other Berkeley and Santa Cruz AWDU members when we heard that all of Berkeley’s votes had been challenged (meaning they might be invalidated). We arrived in the early hours Saturday morning and were able to help count the votes for Santa Cruz, Davis, Irvine, San Diego, Riverside and Santa Barbara. by 5pm all of those campuses were almost complete–and AWDU actually seemed to be breaking even.

The elections committee called an hour recess–and three hours later came back to say that the count was suspended, the results so far calculated were certified, and the rest of the count (including all 1500+ votes from LA and Berkeley) and all of the challenges were passed on to the Joint Council–which doesn’t meet until July! The elections committee then immediately fled the building and abandoned the ballots.

All the members at LA sat down in the union office to make sure the votes were secured and to start lodging our protests with media, union officials, etc.

Late last night we drove back to Berkeley, had a meeting, and are now sitting down (in good UAW fashion) in the statewide union office until the elections committee agrees to resume the vote count. We have one demand: COUNT OUR VOTES.

We cannot let our votes be thrown out! This is exactly why we were forced to form the Academic Workers for a Democratic Union more than a year ago, though these actions are almost incomprehensible in their disregard for union democracy and members rights. Please join us at the office as soon as possible (2070 Allston Way, Suite 205) or come to the rally at Sather Gate at 11:30 and march to the office.

A call is planned at 1pm today between incumbent leadership, AWDU members, the elections committee chair and our international representative from UAW. We need to show that our members will not allow their votes to be thrown out, that the count must be finished and new leadership instated.

For more info, including our responses to the attacks that have been emailed by Daraka Larimore-Hall, see: and
In Solidarity and struggle,

Mandy Cohen
Dept of Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley
Head Steward UAW 2865-candidate for Recording Secretary
Academic Workers for a Democratic Union

50+ Labor Scholars Call for Resumption of the Vote Count

2 May

Read the letter HERE.

TODAY: May 2, 2011 — Rally to count all the votes!

2 May

Dear friends and colleagues,

AWDU is asking for everyone — students and non-students — to come out to Sather Gate TODAY (Monday) at 11:30am to demand our union count every vote. This may sound absurd, especially during finals week when we’re all stressed, but at this point we have to fight for our votes to be counted!

Here’s what happened:

Elections for UAW Local 2865 — representing 12,000 graduate student workers UC-wide — ended on Thursday afternoon. All ballot boxes were taken to UCLA to be counted on Friday. There were many challenges concerning the boxes, their seals etc, but on Saturday morning the elections committee decided to go on with the count and then deal with each challenge afterward, as according to our bylaws.

Halfway through the count on Saturday, it became possible that AWDU (the reform slate I’m affiliated with) had won the elections. Rather than continue the count, the chair of the elections committee decided that the elections were “partially certified” and that the more than 1,500 ballots from Berkeley and UCLA (nearly half of all ballots cast) will not counted till the next meeting in July.

To put this in perspective: This is as if, in the 2008 national elections, the Republicans had decided to not count the votes of California and Hawaii, and to let a Republican-controlled congress decide how to deal with those ballots later. Would you find such a process fair? I didn’t think so. Would you do something about it?!? Hell yeah!

We need YOUR help to make sure all votes are counted!

1. Gather for a rally TOMORROW at 11:30 at Sather Gate. Then we will march to the union office in downtown Berkeley to demand that our votes are counted (meet us there at 12:30 if you can’t make it to Sather — 2070 Allston Way). We really need everyone to come out to put the political pressure on!

2. Email the current UAW President Daraka Larimore-Hall and demand that all the votes are counted! Please bcc me so we can keep track of how many emails are getting sent.

3. Tell your friends! Please forward this message far and wide — we need all the support we can get, from students and non-students alike!

Thank you to those of you who voted in this last election and showed your support in so many tremendous ways. In some terrible twist, if it hadn’t had been for all of your efforts, our current union leadership would not be acting so scared right now. But right now, this isn’t about which side will win or lose the elections — this is about upholding democracy and our right to vote. Please come out and show your support.

For background on the election, and what’s at stake, please see the following links:

Read more about AWDU here:

Count the votes!!

2 May

Late Sunday night Daraka Larimore-Hall sent a second of two dramatic emails to many UAW 2865 members. This time, though he continued to attack Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) with baseless charges, he framed his attack in a call for the resumption of the ballot count — which had been abandoned by his allies on Saturday April 30 at 8pm. For details on events leading up to Sunday night’s email, please see below, and see

With this latest email comes a new claim by USEJ — they now want to count all of the votes! We are happy that USEJ is prepared to count votes again! Since three members of the elections committee aligned with the incumbent administration of the union broke away from the process of vote-counting, created a fictitious “partial certification” and walked out of the room before the rest of the committee could have their say, we have been asking for voting to resume.

We are surprised by their demand for special conditions (diverging from normal counting procedures) before counting resumes. The union already has a procedure, laid out in the bylaws (Article 14 section 7) <> and naturally the election must follow that procedure.

Vote counting is not the product of a negotiation between two slates. This is a democratic process that has rules. We have followed those rules before and we are prepared to follow those rules now. We are happy to stand together with USEJ in resuming the ballot-counting under the normal election procedures in which (most) challenges are set aside until after the count and then dealt with under procedures laid out in the bylaws and previously agreed upon. Members are waiting at this moment for the election committee to begin counting.

Challenges are an expected part of the vote-counting process, and most do not, according to the bylaws, require counting to stop. But legitimate challenges must be taken seriously. Since the recent email from Daraka Larimore-Hall labels our challenges frivolous and politically motivated, we will describe exactly what our main challenges were and why they matter:

i) One of our most serious challenges was to an entire ballot box from UCLA in which none of the individual ballots were sealed inside any envelope at all. These are spoiled ballots according to established election procedures, and at the time of that challenge the entire election committee allowed the challenge to stand.

ii)The challenge at UCSD was agreed on by the committee and challengers from both sides. An entire box was filled with ballots that were inside one envelope, but lacking the second envelope signed by the voter. Normally, the process with such ballots is to mark them as spoiled, and this had been done previously with single ballots, but because this was felt by all to be a case of poll-worker error, the box was set aside as challenged, to be dealt with after the remaining votes were counted.

iii)Regarding the bizarre assertion of ballot stuffing, supported only with a non-time-stamped photograph, we have identified the volunteer poll worker (not an AWDU activist) in the photograph, who was putting together the ballot box in the morning before the voting started. Here is his statement about this sordid accusation: <>

Additionally, here are pictures taken this morning showing that the picture of the poll worker must have been taken around 10am, before the poll had opened.

We look forward to the resumption of vote-counting at the earliest possible moment.


Natalia Chousou-Polydouri Berkeley

Nick Kardahji, Berkeley

Brenda Medina-Hernandez, Davis

Larisa Mann, Berkeley

AJ Morgan, Davis

Megan Wachspress, Berkeley

….and the rest of Academic Workers for a Democratic Union

Want every vote counted? Sign our Petition

2 May

Count EVERY Vote!

Please consider signing the following petition, demanding that every vote from UCLA and UC Berkeley be counted immediately.

May Day, 2011

To the Elections Committee, Current Executive Board and International Representatives of UAW Local 2865,

It is with great dismay that we learn on this May Day, this day in celebration of the rights of workers around the world, that our most basic right to have our voices represented democratically as a union has been cast aside. It is with this sense of concern and outrage that we the undersigned demand that all of the votes cast in the election of April 26-28th, 2011 be counted immediately.

Click here to read the rest  — and to sign the petition!

Ballot tampering at Berkeley? Nope.

2 May

In a far-reaching email on Saturday night Daraka Larimore-Hall accused Berkeley AWDU of tampering with ballots, using this photo as evidence. Read the poll worker’s response HERE.