United for Social & Economic Justice: The Blog

Labor scholars: "We were too hasty"

posted by United for Social and Economic Justice

Faculty members Dick Flacks (UCSB) & Chris Tilly (UCLA) release a public statement acknowledging earlier public statements made by faculty regarding our union elections were "too hasty".

Thanks to both Professors for taking the high road.

Count ALL the Ballots!

posted by United for Social and Economic Justice [ updated ]

Dear Fellow UAW 2865 Member,

Our message is simple: count all the ballots.

While there have been a number of problems with our opponents’ conduct, as
well as the way the election has been run, the USEJ team wants to see every
vote counted. The political gamesmanship by our opponents, their lawyer and
members of the elections committee publicly committed to them is simply out
of hand.

At the Los Angeles vote count, AWDU is using every trick they can think of
to game the system.

One AWDU leader admitted yesterday in an online post that their challenges
to ballots cast at UCLA and elsewhere were a "strategic response to
USEJ's challenges at Berkeley" - http://tinyurl.com/3zdjp48

Enough games.  Count all the ballots now.

Daraka Larimore-Hall
President, UAW 2865
Candidate, United for Social & Economic Justice

www.uniteduc.org

Wow. AWDU Leader admits ballot challenges are just "strategic"

posted May 5, 2011 6:12 PM by United for Social and Economic Justice [ updated ]

In his own words, in the .

Of course, challenges are required to be sincere - e.g. someone voted that should not have...or balloting locations are shut down or canceled without notice...or ballot boxes are opened after the start of balloting.

AWDU: continuing to create a new standard for "transparency"

Ballot Count Update!

posted May 5, 2011 6:06 PM by United for Social and Economic Justice

Word from Los Angeles is that ballot counting is about to begin.

The elections committee convened at 9am and has spent the day performing a
complete inventory of all ballots, ballot boxes, vote tallies & challenges.

Thanks to your public pressure and good decisions by the elections
committee, our opponents have stood down from their disruptive, circus-like
tactics.  The elections committee is hard at work moving the count forward.

Other updates:

1. Both USEJ & AWDU agreed to a mediator to ensure that the process stays
civil & moves forward unimpeded.  However, AWDU attempted to insert
language in the mediation agreement that would violate the UAW 2865
bylaws and the UAW constitution.  This language was clearly engineered
by AWDU’s attorney.   We strongly believe that any mediation agreement
must respect the rules; rules that preserve democracy in our union.  We
want to ensure that the Elections Committee retains full authority over
all election procedures, including the role of the mediator.  We’ll keep
you posted as discussions unfold on this matter.

2. Because the elections committee has cleared the counting room of
extraneous people, and been allowed the time and space to take stock of
the entire situation, they will likely be able to start with a
significant amount of ballot counting given that the various challenges
will be assessed one-by-one.

We’ll keep you posted as the count progresses.

Solidarity,

Daraka Larimore-Hall
President, UAW 2865
Candidate, United for Social & Economic Justice

Help Stop the Lies & Misrepresentations: Your Testimony

posted May 4, 2011 5:16 PM by United for Social and Economic Justice [ updated May 5, 2011 10:28 AM ]


Ever since the ballot count in the current election was temporarily
suspended, a number of our supporters – and candidates – have expressed
concern over the impact of the current election controversies on the
strength of the union.

I’m concerned too.

This was not the first contested election in our union’s history, and it
won’t be the last.  That said, the level of vitriol, personal attacks and
outright lying is unprecedented – and it needs to stop.

We’ve received a number of responses to our email yesterday calling on
members to help in our campaign to get AWDU to STOP their tactics of lying
about USEJ candidates and intimidating election volunteers.  A member from
UC Berkeley wrote in to say:

“I was also told by a man supporting the other slate that Daraka Larimore
was not a student, earning big $ and out of touch with GSIs.  This guy was
handing out fliers for the slate a few feet from the voting table and I saw
him harass another student who said he had not voted.  This doesn't seem
like OK election day activity!”

Another from UCLA

“When I approached the voting table, a man started calling out to me,
asking if I was a graduate student.  He tried to give me a flier and
convince me to vote in for the AWDU.  I refused the flier and tried to
ignore him since I came to the polls knowing that I wished to vote for the
opposing slate.  However, I felt quite intimidated by his close proximity to
the table and rather aggressive demeanor.  After, I finished voting, he
loudly asked me what department I am from.  This felt intrusive as I had
made it clear that I was not voting for his party.

"Although this man's behavior did not alter my voting decision, I felt very
uncomfortable during this voting experience and am concerned that other
students who may have come to the polls without having made a solid decision
on their candidates may have felt intimidated into altering their voting
choices."

What happened to you during the election?  Please keep sharing your stories
with us: [email protected]  The more complete our picture
about what exactly happened during the election, the better our position to
help make sure appropriate safeguards are in place for future elections.

Solidarity,

Daraka Larimore-Hall
President, UAW 2865
Candidate, United for Social & Economic Justice

Ballot count resumes Thursday!

posted May 3, 2011 3:54 PM by United for Social and Economic Justice

Great News! The Elections Committee has voted to begin the counting on
Thursday, with a mediator and without crowds of extraneous people in the
room.

Moving forward to a full vote count, however, requires that the challenges
from both sides that block counting of ballots be either dealt with by the
Elections Committee or withdrawn. United for Social and Economic Justice
repeats its call on AWDU to withdraw their challenges that are blocking the
vote count for hundreds of votes at UCLA, Davis, San Diego and elsewhere.
Our last offer to mutually set aside challenges was rejected.

Tell AWDU: let's count all the votes.

We applaud the elections committee for ending the circus-like atmosphere at
the count, and for asking both sides to agree on a mediator to help process
challenges. Both sides recently recieved a heartfelt letter from a veteran
elections committee member on why the process was halted, and why the
elections committee must be protected (read the full letter here: http://www.uniteduc.org/open-letter)

Here's an excerpt:

_“I also voted to stop so that people would be forced to consider the
circumstances the committee was working under. We did our absolute best to
ensure a fair election and then ended up in the middle of a war zone with
two sides going back and forth. On Friday the count was a circus, with tit
for tat challenges based on minor procedural deviations that had nothing to
do with ballot security. It reached a point where the elections committee
members could not do their job around the 20 or so other people in the room.
We were secretly tape recorded, and upon discovery the candidate doing the
taping refused to leave the room for some time. He insisted he was staying
as a union member and he and others felt he should be able to observe no
matter what his actions. I was particularly shaken by this and nearly left
right then; during the contract ratification vote, while I was committee
chair, my private phone number was posted on a blog and placed on a flyer
that was handed out at Berkeley requesting that I be called and lobbied to
reverse a decision made by the committee but being attributed solely to me.
Is that democracy? Is that the way we should be treating our fellow members?_

…The short of it, I am afraid, and continuing the vote count in that
atmosphere would be a disservice. These issues need to be addressed, and the
votes counted accurately and fairly. I followed the only course of action I
saw that would lead to that outcome.”

- Fawn Huisman, Elections Committee, UC Irivine, in an open letter to both
Presidential candidates.

Thanks to everyone for their continuing patience as this unfortunate
situation is resolved.

Solidarity,

Daraka Larimore-Hall
President, UAW 2865
Candidate, United for Social & Economic Justice

Tell AWDU to STOP the lies and intimidation

posted May 2, 2011 10:21 PM by United for Social and Economic Justice

Right now, AWDU is engaged in a massive effort to convince people of a horrible lie. They’re saying that I am trying to steal an election. While this may be the biggest lie yet, unfortunately its not the first.

As an elected leader, as well as a candidate out on the campaign trail, I met a lot of great people on both sides of our very contentious election. I met AWDU activists who were sincere and energetic and hard working. Though we didn’t agree about everything, they were respectful and thoughtful and I appreciate their dedication to our union.

Unfortunately, among the top echelons of the AWDU machine there is another approach to union politics: attack and destroy. I first saw this when I was sent emails including conversations between AWDU leaders about how to personally attack USEJ candidates as well as members of the elections committee. AWDU leaders discussed research on people’s personal and work backgrounds, and shared tips on how to use the press or political connections as leverage over their opponents.

During the election last week, AWDU candidates and supporters UC Davis, UC Irvine & UCLA, employed right-wing, anti-union tactics to intimidate candidates and voters. This included deliberately lying about people on our slate, as well as following USEJ candidates around campus with signs deriding us as “paid staffers” – and ones with fabricated, misleading salary figures. At UCLA, AWDU was handing out a year. That’s a lie. I’m working on my PhD in Sociology at UCSB . Per the union’s bylaws, Union officers and organizing staff are paid exactly the same hourly rate as a mid-range TA. But don’t take my word for it – I’m posting on ou r website to show anyone and everyone that AWDU was campaigning on a lie. Even though I worked more than half-time much of the year, I still only earned $37,393, roughly half of what AWDU put on their flyers aimed at misleading voters.

When I first saw this flyer, and talked to voters who had heard that I wasn’t a grad student and I make $70,000, I knew exactly how Obama felt about birthers. Obama wasn’t born in Kenya, and I didn’t make $70,000. Evidently we both are required to produce official government documents to put an end to our respective opponents’ silliness.

These kinds of attacks hurt me personally, but they are also destructive to the labor movement; playing into stereotypes of corrupt, out of touch union bosses plays directly into the hands of labor’s opponents.

This behavior is continuing through the difficult situation we find ourselves in right now. AWDU continues to harass and intimidate members of the elections committee, as well as USEJ leaders. I myself have been getting several strings of text messages from multiple numbers all weekend, threatening to destroy my career or send me to jail.

See other accounts of AWDU's tactics and hostility at the ballot count here

Why did AWDU resort to lies and intimidation in this campaign? We’ve always had disagreements in the union, but they’ve never risen to the level of character assassination. I believe the change in culture comes largely from Charlie Eaton – AWDU candidate for Financial Secretary. Before arriving at grad school at UC Berkeley, Eaton worked as staff for several unions - certainly earning more than I earn working for UAW 2865. Eaton’s playbook of lies & intimidation comes straight out of other bitter intra-union struggles he fought as a paid staffer before going back to school.

Now, despite the fact that Eaton has never worked as a TA, GSI, Grader or Tutor, he’s been spreading lies about his opponents and claiming that people with far more experience as a TA than he has are out of touch with the membership because they’ve been organizing for the union for a few years. How could someone who’s never even worked as an ASE –a total outsider to the day-to-day realities of ASE work life – be more equipped to effectively represent ASEs at UC?

So while the entire USEJ team appreciates and respects the energy of many individual AWDU activists who want to build UAW 2865, we hope that starting now, AWDU as a group will reject these divisive and destructive tactics.

It’s these dirty tactics – and the challenges they generated – that are currently delaying the vote count in UAW 2865’s officer elections. Had last week’s election proceeded in a straight-forward manner, the ballots would all be counted and the results would be certified for every campus. But that’s not the world we live in. Instead, the election committee found these and other charges to be so serious – and conditions in the ballot counting room so hostile - that the only way to fairly resolve the challenges was referring the matter to a more representative body – the union’s Joint Council.

I understand why the Elections Committee made that decision. However, USEJ would rather see the vote count resume as soon as possible. For this to move forward, the USEJ team respectfully asks Eaton and other AWDU leaders to put away the lie/attack/defame playbook and let all the ballots be counted as soon as possible –under conditions where AWDU supporters agree to count every ballot, and help create a civil, respectful process for doing so.

Solidarity,

Daraka Larimore-Hall

President, UAW 2865

Candidate, United for Social & Economic Justice

www.uniteduc.org

Our Proposal for Moving Forward

posted May 2, 2011 4:01 PM by United for Social and Economic Justice [ updated May 2, 2011 4:46 PM ]

We want the vote count to continue, and we have a proposal for how to move
forward.

During the counting this weekend, our opponents issued challenges, we
believe unwarranted and politically motivated, that halted the complete
counting of ballots at a number of campuses, including UCLA and UCSD.

United For Social and Economic Justice also raised a number of challenges to
the conduct of this election, in particular, we are concerned about issues
affecting the integrity of the election at UC Berkeley: the opening of a
ballot box after the start of voting, the open campaigning by an elections
committee member and the cancellation of noticed voting hours.

If all of these challenges were withdrawn, the vote count could continue.
Despite our serious concerns, we are willing to set aside our challenges so
long as every vote, not just the ones at UC Berkeley, will be counted.
That’s up to our opponents. We call on AWDU to allow counting of the UCLA,
UCSD and all remaining ballots.

Counting all the votes means counting ALL the votes.

We also call on AWDU to work toward a mutual agreement on a process for
counting ballots that will allow elections committee volunteers to do their
work without intimidation, without crowds attempting to block exits, and
without insults thrown at volunteers.

On a personal note, I have received multiple threatening messages from
anonymous AWDU supporters. I would ask that people return to a level of
civility.

Sincerely,

Daraka Larimore-Hall
On Behalf of United for Social And Economic Justice

Don't Let AWDU Steal the Election!

posted Apr 30, 2011 11:28 PM by United for Social and Economic Justice

Daraka Larimore-Hall, USEJ candidate for President, sent this message to supporters tonight:

Dear fellow UAW 2865 member,

I wish I was writing to you tonight with complete results of the election,
but I cannot because of apparent fraud on the part of AWDU supporters at UC
Berkeley and AWDU's politcally-motivated challenges to counting the votes at
UCLA.

An AWDU supporter at Berkeley was photographed opening and rummaging through
the ballot box while polls were open (http://bit.ly/m6zr6w).  AWDU
supporters at UC Berkeley also cancelled scheduled voting.

AWDU challengers at the count also blocked the counting of ballots at UCLA
in an effort to erase their votes.

After the election committee voted (after 48 hours of counting and
evaluating challenges) to refer outstanding challenges to the union’s joint
council, AWDU members attempted to physically prevent the election committee
from leaving the ballot counting room.  When USEJ members did leave, AWDU
members hurled homophobic slurs at USEJ members.

As we move forward, we call on AWDU to stop the bullying, intimidation and
harassment.  Don't let AWDU steal the election!

Daraka Larimore-Hall
President, UAW Local 2865
Candidate for President, United for Social and Economic Justice

http://www.uniteduc.org

Say No To Dirty Tricks

posted Apr 18, 2011 4:44 PM by United for Social and Economic Justice

“AWDU’s” UNSCRUPULOUS TACTICS

“AWDU” is currently engaged in an unscrupulous campaign to harass and intimidate United for Social and Economic Justice (USEJ) candidates, and decrease members’ opportunity to vote next week. We call on AWDU to set aside the dirty tricks, quit playing politics, and run a campaign on the AWDU record.

Here is a detailed account of AWDU’s tactics:

Personal Attacks

Across the state, AWDU has been attempting to convince our candidates to drop out or join their side. When this fails, they have unscrupulously attacked and tried to disqualify them.

For example, this past week the AWDU candidate for Financial Secretary, Charlie Eaton, has launched politically-motivated attacks against Sayil Camacho, a USEJ candidate for Head Steward at UCLA.

After obtaining Sayil’s phone number under false pretense, Eaton called Sayil and asserted that she’s ineligible to run as a candidate in the current election.

Were Eaton’s concern legitimate, he would have raised it directly to the union’s election committee. However, AWDU does not appear to be primarily concerned with enforcing the union’s eligibility rules. Instead, as Eaton himself explains in an email he (unintentionally) forwarded, his phone call was motivated by an interest in pressuring Sayil into renouncing her candidacy and endorsing AWDU. Eaton writes to his fellow AWDU leaders:

“I just talked to Sayil and I wanted to give you a report… I think the chances of her withdrawing and endorsing us are pretty slim. I think it might make sense for Adam to pose questions in writing about her eligibility and introduce a motion on the Elections Committee to remove her as a candidate”

An additional illustration of the political agenda behind AWDU attacks on Sayil Camacho can be found in the same email chain forwarded by Eaton. One AWDU candidate (Jordan Brocious, UC Irvine) and AWDU leader Adam Hefty (Elections Committee, UCSC) worry that if the same arguments deployed by AWDU against Camacho were to be deployed against Brocious he would not be eligible to run for office either.

The United for Social and Economic Justice Team believes that both Jordan and Sayil should be allowed to run. They’re both graduate students. Period. We’re not playing politics with participation and eligibility rules.

Politicizing the Election Committee

Beyond illustrating AWDU’s politically-motivated agenda, Eaton’s email correspondence (cited above) also reveals that AWDU candidates are working in concert with Adam Hefty – the UC Santa Cruz delegate to our union’s statewide election committee. This revelation is extremely problematic because members of the election committee are supposed to be impartial .

The fact that Hefty is working with AWDU candidates to strategically attempt to force USEJ candidates to withdraw from the election threatens the credibility of the entire election process.

Decreased Voting Opportunities

AWDU’s attempt to use their connections on the election committee to force out qualified candidates is not the only way in which AWDU members are threatening our union’s integrity. Even more shocking is AWDU candidate Sara Smith’s effort to suppress science and engineering votes at UC Santa Cruz. Before Smith became the AWDU candidate for Vice President, she served as the chair of the UC Santa Cruz election committee.

While still on the election committee, Smith actively decreased science and engineering grad students’ opportunities to vote in next week’s election. Specifically, while the election committee originally planned to have 3 days of voting on “science hill” at Santa Cruz, Smith demanded that the science and engineering ballot box only be open for 1 day of voting . That’s on top of the fact that Smith also lobbied to decrease the number of days of evening voting in family student housing from 3 to 1.

After successfully decreasing the opportunities to vote in family housing and on “science hill”, Smith then resigned her office on the election committee and accepted nomination as a Vice Presidential candidate in the upcoming election.

This is all on top of the fact that Smith actively campaigned for AWDU while serving as a member of the election committee. As noted above, UAW 2865’s bylaws and the UAW Constitution clearly and explicitly ban partisan campaigning by election committee members. The reason is simple: campaigning is not impartial activity- people who do it have an explicit stake in the outcome of the election.

What’s worse, “AWDU” candidates for President (Cheryl Deutsch) and Financial Secretary (Charlie Eaton) argued at the March meeting of the UAW 2865 Executive Board (of which they are current members) to limit voting in the entire state to ONLY 1 day.

Ironically, “AWDU” campaigns as a slate that prioritizes democracy and transparency. The facts demonstrate that these are just empty campaign slogans for “AWDU”.

“AWDU” HAS MORE UNETHICAL ATTACKS IN THE PIPELINE

“AWDU’’s unethical attack on USEJ candidates, and the election itself, has caused at least 1 person to walk away from the group. In a letter addressed to Daraka Larimore-Hall (USEJ Chair and UAW Local 2865 President), the former “AWDU” supporter writes:

“I was recently contacted by certain members of the AWDU and asked to help draft some appeals…I find the whole thing morally repugnant…Please be aware that there is talk of filing internal union charges against you and others in the very near future. The proposed charges are baseless, politically motivated nonsense which I want nothing to do with.” (click the link below to see the entire letter)


We were also forwarded over 120 pages of email discussion among “AWDU” leaders planning more negative campaign tactics, and running “background checks” on union leaders and USEJ candidates. This shouldn’t be what this union is about. We’re disappointed to learn that this is the kind of campaign “AWDU” wants to run. If “AWDU” does, in fact, choose to bring baseless charges, we’re prepared to defend ourselves. We’ve done nothing wrong. However, we continue to believe that we’d all be better-off spending our time growing the union than defending ourselves against politically motivated attacks.

A Clear Choice

United for Social and Economic Justice is a team of candidates with a strong record of winning great contracts, participatory democracy, and effective grassroots mobilizing.

We repeat our call on “AWDU” , the team of candidates that opposed the last union contract, to run a clean campaign focused on issues of importance to our membership.

Say NO to dirty tricks. Say YES to strong contracts and positive campaigns.

Vote United for Social and Economic Justice next week.

for polling locations on your campus.

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