Testimony: AWDU Hostility & Harassment

Throughout this election - from campaign days to the ballot count, AWDU supporters have harassed and intimidated USEJ candidates, supporters, and election volunteers.

As a direct result of the hostile environment created by AWDU supporters at the ballot counting meeting, the count has temporarily stopped.

These testimonials are from folks who have experienced AWDU hostility first hand:


"My name is Jacob Burstein-Stern and I am a candidate for head steward at UCLA with the USEJ caucus and a proud member of UAW 2865

My experience over the course of this election has differed somewhat from a number of my USEJ peers.  Though I have worked as a paid organizer for the local and faced private challenging of my eligibility as a candidate, I was subject to virtually no verbal harassment or public attacks of my place on the slate during the course of the campaign.  I had, in fact, what I would describe as almost exclusively positive interactions with a wide variety AWDU members throughout the week of the campaign and the two days of the vote count.

From one perspective, I found and still find these positive interactions as a clear indication that it is entirely possible for our two sides to move beyond the acrimony of the campaign and find a way to work together to protect and improve working conditions for all graduate student employees.  But viewed from another angle, it is difficult for me to ignore the fact that Jorge Cabrera and Sayil Camacho, my two union employee peers on the UCLA campus who faced the most sustained and vicious public attacks, are like me in all manners of status except for one; I am a white male and they are both brown.

I raise this point not to make accusations of overt racism.  I think that it would be foolish to charge anyone on either side with consciously viewing members as vulnerable to attack because of the color of their skin.  I would further like to acknowledge that as members of AWDU have pointed out, theirs is a slate that also carries members from a wide variety of socio-ethnic backgrounds.  However, it is also true that racist impulses do not just exist on the surface.  More often than not, our inclinations towards prejudice come from thoughts and experiences based deep in the subconscious.  And the fact remains that it is hard to not see hypocrisy and an unexamined or unacknowledged pattern in the ethnic make-up of the individuals who have been subjected to AWDU’s harshest attacks.

Further troubling is members of AWDU’s responses when questions of this pattern were raised.  As we know well from the various debates over race that have played out in the public sphere in the post civil right era, one of the first defense responses of individuals accused of racism or racial insensitivity is to claim that the person they have offended is playing the “race card”.  Another popular response is for the person accused to point out that they can’t possibly be racist because they have friends of the race they are said to have offended.  Both of these are simplistic and reactionary defense responses to a question that is inherently more complex than the “race card” or how many friends of color an individual has.  Yet, when the issue of why it was the people of color on our slate who were being most harshly targeted was broached, it was these very responses that various members of AWDU, particularly the white males employed.

I feel deeply that this impulse to obstinately dismiss attacks, which Jorge and Sayil (and myself) genuinely felt to have racial underpinnings, is unquestionably reflective of a liberal white privilege mentality which justifies any potential act of prejudice with the affirmation that because I am conscious of racism, I cannot be guilty of it.  And I further believe that the broad indignation with which a great portion of AWDU members responded to these charges illuminates an inability or unwillingness to self-reflect that is at best troubling, and at worst indicative of the sort of true believer group think that breeds the very authoritarian protect our power at all costs mentality, which they claim to be reforming.

I recognize that addressing this issue is likely to raise the ire and condemnation of many, but I say all this not to further the vitriol but rather to facilitate an open and honest discussion between the two sides.  The accusations and attacks of the past two weeks have left both caucuses and by extension our union, much the worse for wear.  It is my strong hope that once the votes are counted and some sort of concrete resolution is confirmed, we will begin to attempt to find ways to work together.  But in order to do so, we must have a frank and honest conversation about the tactics that have been employed during this campaign.  And there is no doubt in my mind that if we are to move forward, the question of who was targeted and why must be examined and addressed."

Jacob Burstein-Stern, UCLA Head Steward Candidate





It is from a place of sadness and disappointment that I feel obligated to write this letter. But in response to vicious attacks by AWDU leadership and supporters, I find it necessary to defend and clarify both my personal reason for involvement and our caucus’s commitment to construct a positive campaign run on our record, not rhetoric.

For the past two years, I worked as a Union Organizer with AFSCME Local 3299 where I helped cultivate worker/ student solidarity throughout my employment. AFSCME represents UC Service and Technical Employees. It was with a tireless sense of purpose that I strived to make UCLA a place where working families could sustain themselves and ensure that their labor rights were respected within the workplace. Many a time, I sat across from UC management, arguing that the UC mission statement indeed applied to UC employees. Through these difficult conversations it became increasingly evident to me that the labor movement needed an academic backbone by which to expose the UC’s oppressive policies and systems to the academic community. It was from this point of reference that I applied to a PhD program, within the UCLA School of Education. After being accepted I made it my highest priority to become involved with the graduate student employee Union, UAW Local 2865.

My relationship with Jorge Cabrera and Jason Ball began with my involvement in UCLA Fights Back as an AFSCME Union Organizer. At that time I was unaware that there was a division among graduate student employees and was surprised to learn there was a difference of opinion regarding their recently hard earned contract. Especially since the economic crisis and impending Brown budget cuts had seriously weakened the power of all other bargaining units at UC. As soon as I learned that I had been accepted as a graduate student within the program of my choice, I immediately called Jorge and told him I wanted to sign up as a member. Jorge was excited to have me come on board as a member, especially since my interest of study was the labor movement and student development. I became a member and due to my technical experience, was hired as an Organizer for UAW Local 2865, to help further the Local’s organizing efforts.

Because I knew my involvement with the Local was going to be a long-term commitment, both personally and academically, I declared that I wanted to run for a leadership position within the Local. I approached Jorge and asked him if I could run on the USEJ slate. Jorge was excited to have me on his slate and found my personal mission statement to facilitate Union involvement within my department particularly prudent, as the UCLA Education department had not been historically represented by the Local’s leadership.

Upon my employment, I reached out to Jason Ball and had a lengthy conversation regarding how students, especially students in his department, perceived the Local. To paraphrase our conversation, Jason Ball stated that opposition to the contract was primarily centered in the North (Berkeley) and was less pronounced or divisive in Southern California. Jason stated that at most, they had sympathetic listeners but no real activists at UCLA. I suggested that we should run on a slate together, to showcase collaboration and productively work through differences. Jason was in agreement with my idea, but stated he could not participate. He stated that he was in jeopardy of not completing his degree and he could not participate in any extracurricular activities. We concluded the conversation by agreeing that we would both follow up with additional leaders from his department to pitch the idea of a joint slate (Jeff and Revel).

A couple of weeks later, I was forwarded a series of e-mails in which Jason revealed to the opposition (AWDU) my position in terms of supporting “Jorge’s slate.” My name, student status, and ways to discredit me were discussed at length in internal AWDU communications. It was generally agreed that they would not question my character because I was a “respected leader at UCLA,” but they would try to prohibit me from being involved since I was not an “enrolled student.” Never mind that someone on their slate was in the exact same position (which was also discussed at length in their internal e-mails) in the past, they would target me, question me, and contact my past employers for “any dirt.” I was dismayed at the way in which they were approaching the election and attempting to prevent people like myself from participating.

After receiving said e-mails, I was contacted by Charlie Eaton (UAW Trustee, AWDU candidate for Secretary Treasurer) called me. He was able to get my cell phone number from a mutual friend at my previous place of employment. Though not a member of the elections committee and without any other authority to do so Charlie “informed” me that I was not eligible to participate in the election. This was a clear attempt to harass and intimidate someone whom Charlie viewed a threat to his slate. This is further highlighted in an e-mail correspondence Charlie stated, “I think the chances of her [Sayil] withdrawing and endorsing us are pretty slim. I think it might make sense for Adam [Hefty, AWDU leader and UCSC Elections Committee member] to pose questions in writing about her eligibility and introduce a motion on the Elections Committee to remove her as a candidate.” This attempt at repression was made further noxious by the fact that the UAW Elections Committee later voted that I could indeed participate as I filled out the membership card on time, according to the bylaws.

Sadly, the negative AWDU experience did not end with Charlie calling me or the opposition obtaining my information. Jason Ball who wrote a Facebook blog in which I was described as manipulative and cunning, failed to mention our commitment to move forward together and described me and my slate as ‘power hungry,’ instead of honoring the idea of bridging differences. More blogs appeared on the internet in which my employment and student status were discussed at length. And when the actual campaign started, I had the unfortunate experience of campaigning side by side with Charlie Eaton and Kyle Arnone (AWDU supporter and candidate for UAW Executive Board). Charlie would consistently interrupt my conversations with the voters and tell people I was not a student. He also had the audacity to tell voters that we were getting paid to campaign, a clear violation of the bylaws. In fact, two weeks before the week of the vote, I requested that the President of our Local reduce my hours so that I could work on the campaign during the week. In addition, I requested an unpaid week off during the entire week of the vote. Our slate worked hard, sun-up to sundown, and stayed positive.

I am proud to say that our slate has the most women, people of color, and diverse departmental representation (including UCLA leaders from Math and Science departments). During the campaign we would communicate such facts to voters; I was questioned twice by white males (Charlie Eaton and Kyle Arnone) as to why I was “playing the race card” to voters. When a white guy asks a woman of color why she is “race baiting,” the irony is self explanatory. Though I was not the only person on my slate that was currently employed within the Local, it was very clear that at UCLA people of color were the only leaders targeted. Take my friend Jacob Burstein-Stern, a member of our Union, and the only other employee of the Local. Jacob also ran for a UCLA Head Steward position within our slate and happens to be a Caucasian male. Not once did AWDU follow Jacob around with a sign, ridicule him, or pass flyers about him to voters. Not that I would wish for this to happen to anyone, but again, it was evident that the opposition would target people of color and frankly, that’s unacceptable and fails to exemplify the AWDU mission and vision statement.

This is not what democracy looks like. USEJ has made a commitment to take the high road, not mudsling, and run on our record. We challenged the opposition to do the same. However, they failed miserably, and concocted a story of USEJ obstructionism well before the vote count was halted by the Elections Committee.

So where do we go from here?  I don’t know, frankly.  But I do know that whatever the outcome of the vote count, we must find a way to move past the destructive atmosphere of this campaign and to once again treat one another with the dignity and respect we all deserve.

Sayil Camacho, Head Steward Candidate, UCLA





"I am very proud to be a part of the USEJ slate. We worked hard to keep it positive, to run on our record. At certain times, when there was a chance to get them to stop, we chose to expose inappropriate things our opponents were doing.
Now the voting is over, and there is no longer a risk of distracting from the issues. I and several of the leaders I recruited, have been very disappointed and discouraged by AWDU's conduct. I am writing to share a few things we went through, just because I have no reason to hide it anymore.
1) I was physically intimidated and harassed by Davis AWDU candidates on each of the three days of the election . Each time, while I was standing by myself bothering no one, the AWDU candidate, larger and male, stood inches behind me shouting insults at me in an aggressive manner. When I attempted to walk away, he followed me. Each time the harassment continued several minutes after I asked him to stop bothering me.
2) Davis AWDU candidates told the new, excited leaders on our Davis team that they were not qualified to be union leaders because they did not have union experience or hadn't been to a union meeting. Davis AWDU candidates campaigned by constantly berating our candidates in this manner. This behavior is not consistent with AWDU's message about wanting more membership participation. In my experience, excellent union leaders are not the ones that boast about their union experience. Excellent union leaders are the ordinary people that just want to serve .
3) Davis AWDU's Campus Chair candidate, Justin Clement, attempted to win the election through trickery. Justin Clement told us that he wanted to run for Campus Chair as part of our USEJ slate, so that we would not run anyone else in that position . Several weeks ago, he shook Daraka's hand in agreement to run on our team. On the last day that nomination acceptances were due, late in the afternoon, he forwarded me a fake acceptance, pretending that he submitted a candidate statement that mentioned our team name- United for Social and Economic Justice. The candidate statement Justin actually submitted was not what he sent me. Justin was actually collaborating with and endorsed by AWDU. This conduct is not consistent with AWDU's message about transparency and democracy.
4) AWDU constantly tried to contact our new leaders, by email and in person, in attempt to encourage them to step down.

Xochitl Lopez, Candidate for Vice President & Head Steward, UC Davis




The events of the last several days have saddened me personally, and been some of the most difficult of my life. I am writing this statement in support of both the elections committee decision to partially ratify the vote and in support of the need to count all the votes.

The truth is that what I saw in that room was a disaster and a nightmare, and an elections committee intimidated by verbal hostility and physical intimidation. In that room, after almost two days of counting, it was unfair to ask the elections committee to proceed, or to decide upon matters of the validity of the election. Members of AWDU consistently intimidated and harassed elections committee members, one was caught (by me) making an audio recording. AWDU supporters invaded the personal space of the committee members, flooded the room with challengers, and continually politicized the counting process, including giving out the personal phone number of Daraka Larimore-Hall, our President.

I caught the AWDU supporter audio recording on his phone in the late afternoon of Friday the 26 th . After seeing him looking through the viewfinder of his phone, I approached him and looked over his shoulder to what he was looking at. Upon seeing me approach he stated “Get the fuck away from me man.” I then stated, “I thought we had said ‘no photographs.’” He responded with “I’m not taking a picture, I’m doing an audio recording.” I then raised the matter of audio recording with the chair who asked “Is there someone audio recording in this room?” The exchange that followed included more foul language, and the chair had to step way from an AWDU candidate who, while yelling at him, invaded his personal space in a threatening manner.

Patterns of harassment and intimidation by AWDU activists and supporters were not just a problem at this vote count, but across the campuses over the last year. AWDU bloggers have ambushed our Guide Filiberto with video, secretly recorded our former President Christine, and personally attacked people who they disagree with, frequently giving out their personal information for phone bombs, as they did Friday night when they politicized the elections committee. For a group of people who are running on a participatory platform, it is certainly problematic to be treating regular members and activists with this kind of hostility. The kind of ambush tactics – designed to make people feel personally uncomfortable – are problematic for any Union.

This kind of harassment and intimidation is no kind of atmosphere for a vote count, and it does disservice to the process. In order to ensure respect the process it was necessary to find a new medium and a new way of counting the ballots. I believe the reaction of AWDU supporters to the decision of the elections committee is politically motivated, and I believe that whoever is determined to win this election will have to pick up the pieces and make the Union run again. I call on both parties to conduct themselves with respect and fairness, and I call on the parties to find a political solution to this mess, one which counts the ballots in a fair and lawful manner.

It is certainly true that the ballots need to be counted. It is also true that in the atmosphere of that room, there is no way the counting could have proceeded. I believe the elections committee found itself stuck between certifying a potentially fraudulent election for the wrong reasons, or of declaring it fraudulent and facing the threat of physical violence. In this mess, I believe the committee sought to find a third way that would respect the needs of both fairness and due process. Without intimidation."


- David Selby, Head Steward Candidate, UC San Diego





" I served as a challenger for the USEJ slate at the election count. During that count I observed varying levels of intimidation and partisan activity by AWDU challengers. One of the most egregious violations of trust was when Kyle (AWDU - UCLA) was found to have not only been photographing but also audio recording the course of the election count without the consent of those that where in the room and without an honest admission of his activities. Once discovered, the elections chair requested that he leave because of the gross violation of everyone’s privacy.


"Kyle took several minutes to leave while Charlie Eaton hurled baseless accusations. I noticed that Kyle still hadn’t left and I brought it to the elections chairs attention. After the this third attempt by the election chair to ask Kyle to leave he finally stepped out and I closed the door in order to keep him out of the room and to an extent, protect the integrity of the room.  Bron Tamulis (AWDU - UCI),  reentered the room immediately after Kyle departed, and left the door open. I politely asked Bron to please close the door. He then slammed it so hard that it shook my hair. He stared me down in an aggressive manner. I then asked him, “Was that really necessary?” He responded by continuing to stare at me in an aggressive manner and mockingly apologized, saying he was sorry. He continued to glare at me and I held his gaze. At that point I decided to continue doing the important work of the election count and ignored his efforts to intimidate me.

"Elise, an AWDU challenger from UCLA, consistently disregarded the explicit instructions of the election committee, and insisted that she be allowed to handle ballot boxes in order for her to inspect them. She also refused to examine the ballot boxes when the election committee member and the USEJ challenger did but insisted on expecting the box on her own schedule. It was often the case that she struggled to articulate a challenge and would immediately leave the conference room for several minutes and return with her challenge. This last sequence suggested that she was receiving instruction from an outside party and also seriously disrupted the important work of counting the ballots.

"On Saturday the elections committee decided that only individuals working ont he ballot count, such as challengers and candidate challengers, would be allowed in the conference since there was so much disruption and intimidation on Friday. While serving as a challenger for the Santa Barbara count, I noticed Cheryl Deutsch (AWDU candidate for President) sitting in the back of the conference room (around the UCI count area). I asked an election committee member if that was okay, and he immediately asked her to leave...however, Cheryl did that at least two other times."


- Filiberto Nolasco, Unit Chair Elect, UC Santa Barbara



My name is Coral Wheeler.  Many of you reading this may already know who I am, given that for the last 5 and a half years, I have been an activist, an elected officer and at times a staff person in our Local union. During this time I may have met you while I was signing you up as a new member, meeting with you to discuss a potential contract violation, picketing with you in front of a Toyota dealership or meeting up with you and other union members in your department.

For those that don't know me, I attended grad school at UC Irvine in the Physics department from fall of 2005 through spring of 2009. During this time I served as campus Recording Secretary, statewide Recording Secretary and then Southern Vice President for our Local Union, UAW 2865. I was the Irvine representative who negotiated our contracts in 2006, 2007 and 2009. I left grad school in 2009 when I accepted a full time position with the UAW to help the over 6,000 Postdocs at the UC form a union, an accomplishment I list among the most important in my life for the impact it had on the lives of real people as well as on the advancement and promotion of the sciences and of the labor movement.

My recent (Fall of 2010) decision to leave my full time position with the UAW and return to grad school was a personal one and far from easy. I won't go into the details but sufficed to say that I agonized over it for many months before finally deciding to leave the position and return to grad school to complete my PhD. Unfortunately, once you use up your three quarters of academic leave, your student status lapses and you must re-apply.

Thankfully, according to a proud tradition within the UAW and the broader labor movement, I was not kicked out of the union when I lost my student status at the UC. I have continued to be a member in good standing of my local union by paying my membership dues continuously, even after my student status lapsed. I am also happy to once again serve this local union as a member of its part time organizing staff, although the demands of a part time union job and additional volunteering do make getting back into my research a challenge.

Now you may be wondering why I have bothered to explain all this, and those of you who know me already know all this, but there is a very important reason. Strangely, the issue of my student status became a major campaign platform for my opposition in the most recent officer election in our local union.

Our local, and the labor movement in general, has never been about seeking to eliminate member status from workers who temporarily leave or lose their employment in the unit. However, members of AWDU (Academic Workers for a Democratic Union) have insisted on campaigning against me almost entirely based on this one fact, and using very problematic tactics.

During campaigning, AWDU candidate for President Cheryl Deutsch and AWDU supporter Bron Tamulis followed me around as I was talking to voters with a bright yellow sign that said: “Not a Student. Paid Staff. Your Dues. $80K in 2010”. Bron Tamulis was very aggressive and verbally taunted me while following me around with this sign. In all my years of organizing in this union and on campus, never before had I been made to feel so hated by another individual. I've had plenty of conversations and encounters throughout the last five years with anti-union people, with hostile management, and I've developed a pretty hard shell. But experiencing this behavior and this level of vitriol from another union member made me particularly sad.

At first I tried to make light of the situation and joked about how following me around with a sign was a weird thing to do, but I soon became very frustrated when I realized that it was serving primarily to drive potential voters away. I am sure the sign did not actually win any votes for my opposition and I know for a fact that it actually won a few votes for our side by angering members over AWDU's nasty tactics. However, a large number of people, not surprisingly, were simply weirded out by the sign and hurried away without hearing from either side in this important election.

I pleaded with some members of AWDU that were also there, Robert Wood who I had known through the union for over five years, and Jordan Brocious, from my own department, that I had met three years previously at a union membership meeting, to ask their colleagues to stop these aggressive personalized campaign tactics. My pleas were ignored.

In addition, using that particular sign propagated a common anti-union message, that we are all a bunch of rich bureaucrats that are in it only for a fat paycheck. What's more, the sign was intentionally designed to mislead voters into thinking that a) I am lying about my student status and b) this is my current salary, when in fact, even my candidate statement stated that I was not a currently enrolled grad student and the salary listed on the sign was even higher than my salary at my last job. For the record, I am currently paid at the same rate as a mid-level TA, as per our union's bylaws.

I have decided to speak out after days of keeping quiet. Why now? My self and other members of USEJ attempted to make this campaign about the issues. AWDU insisted on making it about personal attacks. Now the campaign is over but the lies and intimidation tactics that members and supporters of AWDU are now employing against other union members and volunteers have only increased. As many of the people who have experienced this abuse are friends and comrades of mine, I am speaking out so that these tactics stop.

One of the saddest things to me is the knowledge that union activists that I recruited years ago are now being subjected to this abuse, never knowing that this is what they were signing up for. I wonder how I will be able to continue to recruit new people into positions within the union, knowing that if AWDU is still around, any union member that disagrees with them could be subject to having their cell phone number distributed, having people harass them as they talk to voters in a union election or even be threatened in person while they perform their research on campus.

The election is over, although many ballots remain to be counted. I am eager to see the counting resume immediately, as long as we can ensure that our elections committee can complete the count in a calm environment without being subject to intimidation. I hope that the members of AWDU who are acting in good faith, and I know they are out there, can call on other members of their caucus to stop this continued escalation of lies, harassment and bullying. These tactics have no place in a labor union."

- Coral Wheeler, Unit Chair Candidate, UC Irvine



"
My name is Donna Fenton, and I have served as Financial Secretary of Local 2865 since February 2009. I am running for reelection as part of the United for Social and Economic Justice slate of candidates. After experiencing a campaign that was unnecessarily ugly, and then facing unwarranted attacks on my integrity, I feel compelled to tell my side of the story.

When people now associated with AWDU came on the scene in Berkeley, I at first welcomed the increase in participation and debate, but soon realized that these were not people I could trust; most were not making any good-faith effort to work with my colleagues and I to make improvements from within the organization. Instead, they seemed to be out to trash their own union, telling lies about the leadership in public forums and at membership meetings. During bargaining, non-AWDU members of the bargaining team were consistently publically undermined and mischaracterized as “bureaucrats” who were selling out the membership. In fact, long before any tentative agreement was reached, AWDU members were mobilizing to oppose the contract, mainly because they really wanted to go on strike. Many seemed to be more motivated by the desire to be at the center of some political struggle of their own creation, than by any desire to serve the interests of our members.

As more people unquestioningly bought into the AWDU propaganda, I was met with increasing hostility and disrespect. Even most AWDU supporters will agree that I have always been open and honest and willing to explain financial procedures or engage in discussion on any number of issues. I have been respectful and fair to all members. However, at Berkeley membership meetings, I have been silenced and have had rude comments made towards me. There have also been occasions when AWDU supporters have come into the office while I am working and behaved rudely towards me and towards our clerical staff. I have always been willing to make financial records available to interested members, but don’t feel that I should be harassed at my workplace or be obligated to drop whatever I am doing just because some AWDU member decides to drop in and demand information.

The worst case of harassment of this nature that I’ve experienced was by my opponent for Financial Secretary, Charlie Eaton, after the last Joint Council meeting. Charlie, who is a Trustee, was angry that the Joint Council had voted to adjourn the meeting, and immediately came up to me and very aggressively demanded to see financial records. I said that he could view the monthly financial reports, then when I went to inform the President that this was going on, Charlie followed very close behind me to try to intimidate me into not speaking to Daraka. At this point a second Trustee joined in asking for records. I then went into my office to get the reports, where Charlie followed very closely and began to make further demands. I had to ask him twice to back off and step out of my office because he was acting in a threatening and inappropriate manner. Once he agreed to sit at the table I gave them the payroll book they had asked for. At that point, a large number of AWDU supporters had gathered around the table. I realized that it was inappropriate to have payroll records, which contain personal information, out on display. I went and took back the book, saying they would have to wait until the office cleared out. However, it became clear that nobody was leaving, and in fact they were staging some sit-in involving chants and singing union songs, so I just had to leave.

The next week, Charlie again demanded to see payroll records, claiming to be concerned about our deficit. During the election, the real reason for his request became clear. AWDU made a campaign issue out of the fact that some of us are paid staff members, as if there is something wrong with getting paid to do your job. I saw a flier that had been circulating around UCLA with our names and salaries on it. I had to laugh when I saw that I was made out to be some kind of “fat cat” because I make $50,000 a year for a full-time position with a great deal of responsibility. Until recently I wasn’t entitled to paid vacation; there is no pension plan and unlike GSI’s/TA’s there is currently no “step” system in which union staff can advance and earn more as they put in more years of service. I’m not saying this to complain, just to make it clear that I am not in this for the money. At least my salary was correct; they claimed Daraka Larimore-Hall made twice what his actually salary was.

During the election last week, there were some positive moments where I had friendly spirited discussions with AWDU members, and where voting members had a chance to hear from both sides, without any insults. I wish the whole campaign could have been conducted in this manner. While campaigning on campus I stuck to the issues, such as our differences on the contract, but some AWDU campaigners insisted on attacking me because I’m not currently a graduate student. I honestly don’t understand why this is an issue. I was a graduate student and a GSI when I joined the union; my opponent has not actually worked as a GSI. One particularly unpleasant exchange I had on this subject was with the Berkeley elections committee alternate, who throughout the election was handing out AWDU fliers near the polling stations and knocking on doors in student housing during voting despite the fact that elections committee members are not supposed to campaign.

I was very relieved when the election was over, thinking that whatever the outcome, I could now move forward and past all this negativity. I was not involved in the vote count, and learned that the counting had stopped when I received the same email as everyone else. Of course AWDU immediately fired off one-sided emails and blog posts framing this as the “incumbents” trying to steal the election, and there was a call for people to email the leadership demanding that we count the votes. I’ve received many emails, some politely expressing concern, others insulting, but for the most part taking AWDU’s claims at face value and assuming the worst is true, that the leadership of their union is corrupt and shady. First of all, I want members to know that I had nothing to do with the count or the decision to stop counting, and would like the count to continue (without hostility). Second, I have always conducted myself with honesty and integrity, and have done my job with the best interests of our union and our members in mind. Just because someone writes something in a blog that says otherwise, please don’t automatically believe it."

- Donna Fenton, Financial Secretary and Candidate, UC Berkeley



" I volunteered to be an impartial pollster and help run the election. During my 2 hr shift I was not relaxed, not having fun having challengers constantly harping on me looking over my shoulder. While I followed all the double envelope procedures to a tee, I felt like I was suspected of being guilty of something though all I was doing was volunteering my time to help a UNION a united coolectivity that is very important to my livelihood and career. It was very difficult to help people vote, feel comfortable and follow all the procedures because I felt intimidated by challengers from being under constant and oppressive feeling surveillance by the AWDU challenger"

- Anon.



“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!”

- Anon @ UC Berkeley



"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."

- Anon @ UCLA

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