I wrote back in June:
Will the threat of going to Dept of Labor force reforms? Probably not, but by publicizing among UFT members, it will raise the idea that Unity is an entity of lack of democracy.
So why are we documenting these violations? There may come a day where the oppo is close enough to win and the Unity machine will actually attempt to steal the election and this document is a cease and desist order and also blueprint for the future where my hope is the oppo lays all this out up front before the election begins.
Sept. 6 the 3 month time limit the UFT had to respond to the United for Change election complaint ran out and according to Department of Labor rules, we have one month to go to the DOL to lodge the complaint. James Eterno, a major player in the complaint process, posted an update on the ICE blog where James has posted a list of complaints:
You might recall that on June 6, 2022, United for Change filed 32 complaints with the UFT about violations of federal labor law and regulations in the recent UFT officer election by Unity Caucus -UFT. We reported on it here on June 10. We didn't say Hugo Chavez was hacking into election machines or that dead people were voting en masse.
Right on that. It was all paper ballots despite our attempts to get electronic voting
, opposed by the leadership because there is danger to have more people voting - call it Trump light. We observed the election counting process and while I have had issues with the way the process run by the AAA, we didn't spot anything in the actual counting process to raise any objections to in the complaint, which was about the campaign and the misuse of UFT resources to favor Unity Caucus. In other words, we are not claiming "The Big Steal." Unity has enough cheating opportunities in how they structure the election:
Did enough votes get swayed by the actions we listed in the complaint? I will share my thoughts after the case is decided - if we go to the DOL. My personal goal is to affect future elections - stop district reps from using our resources. On the other hand, Unity leaflets are so lame and probably cost them votes so it's not a big deal to me.
On June 6, 2022 (celebrating my 51st wedding anniversary), I and other members of the United for Change election committee, filed a 75 page election complaint with the UFT. After 3 months, if we haven't received a final response from UFT & AFT, then we have a one month window to file with DOL. If we don't file, the internal process (UFT & AFT) just continues and we have the opportunity to file with DOL after we do receive the final response.
Christina [Gavin] ended up being frustrated with me because I was rushing her to be timely with this action as the election is fading from memory. She wanted to be thorough and I think she succeeded while still managing to be timely. We thank her for her efforts.
I had a lot of back and forth between James, an old hand like me, and Christina over how to proceed.
Christina, who had never been involved in UFT politics until she pitched in to help with finalizing petitions in mid-February, led the way and James jumped on board. Over the past month Sheila Zuckowsky from Retiree Advocate lent her relentless analytical skills to the forensics. But it was Christina who brought an entirely new perspective to those of us who have been doing this for decades and just accepted the Unity machine would play with the election. She wouldn't accept the status quo. We had a lot of fun in this election. Kudos to her.
And of course working with James is always fun even if we fight a lot - which we have over the past 2o years - but it never gets personal.
And let me note that working with Christina since I first met her in mid-February added new insights into the election process for an old hand like me. She is reliable, relentless, demanding and meticulous in her work and as someone who had little experience with internal UFT politics, an amazingly quick learner. And is now on the MORE steering committee, which is a plus for MORE.
Before I proceed, let me go over key dates:
Feb.-March 2022 - AFT Candidate Christina Gavin contacts Department of Labor for advice on process for election complaints, the first time opposition forces explored this process as a way to curb Unity violations. She reports the UFT has 3 months to reply from date of complaint. Upon reply, the next step is to go to parent body, the AFT for appeal. DOL says we should follow the complaint process as set out in UFT by-laws. We find there are no bylaws. Only mention is in UFT constitution which states Ex Bd decides. Only candidates can lodge complaints.
March-April 2022: Individual election complaints filed. Unity Exec Bd rules. Christina comes under attack by Unity.
Addendum: Since the election, Christina has continued to work hard in helping the union organize librarians and fighting budget cuts. She continues to not illegally use union resources or harass/behave aggressively towards anyone.
|Christina does the work at John Liu Town Hall|
Wed. Mar. 16 - At a meeting Christina and I had with Leroy Barr and UFT lawyer Beth Norton, she told us the UFT appeal process (which is not encoded anywhere - they make these up as they go along.):
1. contact UFT
2. LeRoy and Beth investigate
3. LeRoy presents a Report & Recommendation to the Executive Board
4. The Executive Board votes to approve or disapprove
5. Appeals to the AFT ATTN: Fedrick Ingram and David Strom
6. AFT appeals go to the DOL
May, 2022 - Christina Gavin compiles complaints into a 75 page document, with input from James Eterno.
Read the full complaint Christina put together (if she didn't do it no one would have to this extent):
(Note: There are still weeks to go until summer break and UFT Ex Bd still meets in June.)
July/August, 2022: James Eterno touches base with DOL officials asking for advice if UFT doesn't reply. He is informed that both the UFT and the parent body, the AFT, have 3 months to reply. James begins to point out that if we don't get a reply or get one very late, the AFT will run out of time on Sept. 6 as will the UFT. DOL surprised there are no by-laws.
August 26: Despite not having received a reply, we send a letter to the AFT informing them we have not yet received a reply from the UFT and urging them to get involved, giving them notice they are held to the same 3 month time frame as the UFT. We ask them to begin their own investigation. There is some confusion as to how we are appealing when we haven't gotten a reply to appeal yet? We request that Randi Weingarten and 3 other AFT Council members recuse themselves since they ran on the Unity slate.
It is clear that we should have asked Unity caucus candidates in the UFT to recuse themselves too. We didn't.
Sept. 2, 2:45 PM: We receive a response from Leroy Barr which I don't see until 6PM.*
Sept. 3: UFC sends an appeal to the AFT, following up on its Aug. 26 email.**
Technically the email we sent is not properly an "appeal" because we have not yet received a final reply.
Sept. 6: 3 months DOL time limit expires for both UFT and parent AFT according to DOL rules.
Sept. 12, 19: UFT Ex Bd meetings - Possibility complaint will be reported and voted on.
Oct. 6: Deadline to go to DOL. At this juncture (prior to receiving a final response), if we don't go to the DOL now, we can still go within one calendar month of whenever UFT & AFT complete their responses.
Some don't think the process is even worth it. Others do. This decision must be made by the various groups in the UFC coalition together.
My position is to wait to see what the UFT and then the AFT come up with.
I will do a blog on the pros and cons of going to the DOL and the potential political fallout.
Here are the Sept. 1 and Sept. 2 docs.