Wednesday, May 4, 2011

UCLA Graduate Student Association Responds to Vote Count Situation..

We think this offers a very trenchant analysis of the events of the past several days. Please read this important letter. You can access the UCLA GSA website to see the actual post here. 
We are happy that a time and date has been set to resume to vote count in LA. The votes will be counted beginning at 9 am this Thursday (tomorrow)! We will keep you posted on the progress of the count. A big thanks to all the AWDU members and supporters from across the state who have been keeping the ballots safe in LA and who are sitting down at the statewide office in Berkeley until the votes are counted. Onward...

GSA Officers Call on UAW Leaders to Resume Elections

May 3, 2011 - 3:30pm

Fellow graduate students,

You may have been following the recent elections of union officials for UAW 2865, the union representing student academic employees including GSRs, teaching assistants, tutors and readers across the UC. Under normal circumstances we would not need to comment on these elections, as they are intended to be a straightforward matter of student-workers making a choice. However, it is precisely this ability to choose that is now at stake. As graduate student advocates, we are intervening to bring a measure of clarity in an important matter unfolding on our campus that involves our fellow students.
There is a possibility that ballots from UCLA and Berkeley will not be counted, representing nearly half of all voters in this election. We cannot reconstruct a moment-by-moment history of these elections. Suffice it to say, the UAW Elections Committee, possibly in violation of bylaws, suspended the vote count before tallying ballots from UCLA and Berkeley after it had been determined totals from other campuses would likely result in a victory for the incumbent slate, United for Social and Economic Justice (USEJ). The Elections Committee voted to defer further counting to a Joint Council meeting approximately two months away and fled the scene before objections could be heard.

While it is possible to read these events as fairly straight forward and unproblematic, we find a few key developments and political realities troubling.

1. There is a general consensus of those close to the election is that there is a fair or better chance that when UCLA and Berkeley are counted the challenging slate, Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) will win, though this is speculation. However, if those ballots are not counted, incumbent slate USEJ will win.

2. The logic of self-interest leads to distinct political strategies for each slate. USEJ incumbents benefit most from a strategy that invalidates remaining uncounted ballots. AWDU challengers, who have the chance to win if all ballots are counted, benefit most from a strategy that protects the ballots.

3. The incumbent president of the union so far appears engaged in a strategy consistent with the self-interest of USEJ. Daraka Larimore-Hall widely distributed a misleading email and blog accusing AWDU of preventing the ballots from being counted and accusing them of vote-tampering. His evidence was a picture of an alleged AWDU supporter opening and reaching into a ballot box at Berkeley. It has since been confirmed that this picture captures a volunteer poll worker setting up a voting station before voting began. It is unlikely that this posting was a misunderstanding, given that the picture in question fails to depict key elements of an active station, elements that should be apparent to the union president who was actively engaged in the campaign. His accusations could only cast doubt upon the validity of the ballots, a move that benefits him.

4. AWDU is engaging in a campaign consistent with their self-interest (and we might add, the interests of voters), and has locked the ballots in a room that they cannot open (though USEJ can). They are also currently filming the ballots and you can watch them twenty-four hours a day on live feed. In addition, AWDU activists from three campuses have been camping out at the union office on Hilgard, guarding the ballots and waiting for the count to resume. Accordingly. we find it hard to believe claims of AWDU obstructionism.

5. Considering the justifiable suspicion of unethical conduct, based on troubling behavior of those who stand to gain from postponing or prematurely ending the election, a two-month waiting period may be too long to protect the ballots from doubt of corruption and ultimate disqualification before the counting process resumes.

We call on the UAW leadership and Elections Committee to do the right thing and count the votes. We find the apparent willingness of current leadership to postpone this election and falsely taint the votes of members to be extremely troubling sign of a strategy based on self-interest, unbefitting those seeking further terms in power. We believe this union is too crucial to the wellbeing of teachers and those they teach for leadership to play into stereotypes of bad unions, but the problems too important not to acknowledge and attempt to rectify. There is only one way to insure fairness not only to both sides, but most importantly to voters, and that is to count the votes now. Let the chips fall wherever they may.


Cheye-Ann Corona, VP of External Affairs
Luis Limon, VP of Internal Affairs
Kimberlina McKinney, VP of Academic Affairs
Jason Ball, Communications Director

Regrettably, media did not respond to GSA requests for press coverage of this brewing controversy when we were informed of it on Friday. As such, most material available on the matter is partisan. However, if you are interested in looking into the matter further, we provide the following links and have faith in your ability to parse out something more or less true from the competing claims in each. Please note we could only find two sites that represent a distinctly USEJ perspective, but we encourage you to communicate with them through their website for their take on allegations made against them.

Official AWDU Statewide Site
Official USEJ Statewide Site
(No USEJ at UCLA site found)

Mr. Larimore-Hall's Post Alleging Corruption

Response from the Accused Poll Worker

Live Feed of Remaining UCLA/Berkeley Ballots

Petition by Labor Scholars Demanding All Ballots Be Counted

THOSE WHO USE IT, A popular blog on the UC student movement that has followed the elections.

Daily Cal article covering som possible union bylaws violations

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