Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chris Day questions ATU information sources

           During January's Charter Meeting Bruce Hansen, Jonathan Hunt and Mary Longoria presented a memorandum from S. Stoner addressing the proposed bylaw change presented in December 2014. This memorandum made statements indicating that the proposed bylaws change would not be within the guidelines of the Department of Labor and our International Constitution and General Laws. The above mentioned union officers advised the membership that the Executive Board is recommending against the proposed bylaws change partly based of the information provided by this memorandum.
Some statements in the memorandum created question about the accuracy of these statements. Union officers failed to provide documents that support the memorandum. Because this memorandum appears to be the strongest reason for a no recommendation it called for more investigation of the statements made. The investigation has revealed question about the accuracy of the memorandum and why our union officers failed to catch this.

            This letter is a request to the Full Time Officers and the Executive Board Officers to explain why they failed to protect the membership from inaccurate information. It is important for our membership to understand that we have the right people representing us. It is important that each Officer fully understands how vital  it is to present the membership with accurate and documented information that is properly researched. These Officers should review and respond to the questions brought up in this letter.

Attached is a copy of the memorandum provided to the membership in January's Charter Meeting and continuation meetings.

Q.) Bruce Hansen, Jonathan Hunt, Mary Longoria, Jeff Ackerson, Shirley Block, Carl Faddis, Sandy Guengerich, Shayne Jenkerson, David Kay, Kevin Kinoshita, Dan Martin, Scott Miller, Ken Richins, Joe Ruffin III, Tom Ruiz, Anna Tompte and Charisse Wall are our current listed union officers. These are the Officers that represent and protect the membership. It is the duties of these Officers to assure that the information they provide to the membership is accurate and appropriately researched. If the information in the memorandum is proven to be untrue or inaccurate how come it was presented to the membership?

Q.) The memorandum presents the question "Does the International Constitution permit the nomination meeting to be changed from May to April". The answer was "No. Such a change would appear to bring the local bylaws into conflict with the International Constitution". This answer is given without indicating any documents that support it. Making this statement without providing a reference to the section that reflects this makes it difficult for the membership or Officers to research.
What causes this conflict is this section "Election ballots are to be counted no sooner than 20 days nor later than 30 days from the meeting at which nominations were made." By changing from May to April and not changing the 20 day min/ 30 day max this makes it so that counting must happen late April or early May. This violates International requirement of elections must be held in June.
To avoid conflicts with International both election vote count and run-off count must be done in June.
Currently I have not been able to locate anything in the International Constitution that indicates changing the nomination date to April would be in violation of International Constitution. It is also my concern that by requiring nomination to be held so close to ballot counting that it is not allowing enough time for the candidates to campaign before the members receive the ballots. If this is true then requiring nomination in May might be in violation of Department of Labor Law §452.79-Opportunity to campaign. Isn't it more respectful to the member that spent the time writing this proposal and the membership to understand why the proposal would have issues rather then just saying it wont work?

Q.) The memorandum then ask "Does the International Constitution allow for the use of a primary system wherein a run-off election must be held if no candidate for a particular office receives the majority vote". The answer was "Yes. International Constitution allows for run-offs. However, the time restrictions placed by the International Constitution, the Local's bylaws and the U.S. Department of Labor would make the scheduling extremely difficult if not impossible". The research that I have done with in the U.S. Department of Labor Laws, International Constitution and our local bylaws indicates the only one that makes the scheduling extremely difficult or impossible would be our current local bylaws as it is written now. Excluding our local bylaws is the answer posed here true with in U.S. Department of Labor and International Constitution and what documents support this?

Q.) The memorandum continues with issues and states "1. The ATU 757 election committee has always determined whether the candidate is eligible to be placed on the ballot. They investigate status and duration of membership in good standing prior to placing the name on the ballot". What does this mean towards the proposed bylaws change and what does it have to do with the proposed bylaws change?

Q.) The memorandum states "2. No ballot can be created until the election committee has been elected. Election committee must be nominated and elected at the charter meeting in the two months before the nomination meeting. Although they are busy between the time of their election and the counting of the ballots, there is nothing for the election committee members to do until during the month before the election because membership lists and other material cannot be finalized until just before the ballots are mailed out. There is no question that the election committee is busy from time of election on up to the voting of the ballots. What is the purpose of presenting this in regards toward the proposed bylaws change?

Q.) The memorandum states "3. Section 14 of the Local's bylaws require that ballots be counted between 20 and 30 days of the nomination meeting [unless this would violate DOL regulations which require ballots be in the hands of voters for a certain duration-generally counting takes place at least 20 days after mailing to allow sufficient time for mailing problems to be resolved and the return of ballots from non-PDX locations]. This means, under the proposed change, the ballots would have to be counted the first part of May. This would conflict with the International Constitution, which requires ballots be counted in June before the 25th. See #1 below".
§452.99-Notice of election.
Elections required by title IV to be held by secret ballot must be preceded by a notice of election mailed to each member at his last known home address not less than fifteen days prior to the election. For purposes of computing the fifteen day period, the day on which the notices are mailed is not counted whereas the day of the election is counted. For example, if the election is to be held on the 20th day of the month, the notices must be mailed no later than the 5th day. The notice must include a specification of the date, time and place of the election and of the offices to be filled, and it must be in such form as to be reasonably calculated to inform the members of the impending election. Specification of the offices to be filled would not be necessary if it is a regular, periodic election of all officers and the notice so indicates. A statement in the union bylaws that an election will be held at a certain time does not constitute the notice required by the statute. Since the Act specifies that the notice must be mailed, other means of transmission such as posting on a bulletin board or hand delivery will not satisfy the requirement. A notice of election must be sent to every member as defined in section 3(o) of the Act, not only to members who are eligible to vote in the election. Where the notice, if mailed to the last known permanent or legal residence of the member, would not be likely to reach him because of a known extended absence from that place, the statutory phrase “last known home address” may reasonably be interpreted to refer to the last known temporary address of definite duration. A single notice for both nominations and election may be used if it meets the requirements of both such notices.
            The memorandum indicates that DOL requires no less then 20 days to have the ballots in hand of the voters. In all the DOL documents I have researched I have found the minimum requirement is 15 days and that is to be mailed not to be in hand of the voter. I have not found anything in the DOL that states anything about in hand of the voter. Requiring that ballots be counted between 20 and 30 days after nomination is still a concern that it would not permit enough campaign time for the candidates. This could be viewed as violating U.S. Department of Labor Law §452.79-Opportunity to campaign.
            Is the statement made in the memorandum with in this question above true and/or accurate in regards to the Department of Labor requirements? What documents support the answers to these questions?

Q.) The memorandum states "4. Members can and do declare their intent to run for office prior to the nomination meeting. Many begin campaigning before the nomination meeting.
Members are protected by freedom of speech laws that allows them the freedom to speak about their intent. Candidates are restricted by limitation that they can not have access to properties and other campaigning tools until they have been nominated as a candidate. This means that a member can not run a full campaign until after the nomination so only the time period that the candidate is able to run a full campaign should be the time considered as campaigning time.
Is the memorandum statement in this question true and what documents support it?

Q.) The memorandum states in Issue: Requiring run-off elections "1. The provisions of the International Constitution supersede local bylaws. The International Constitution, Section 14.1 requires that local elections be "held" in June and completed by no later than June 25th. The newly elected candidate must take office on July 1st. "Held" is interpreted to mean that ballots must be counted in June. Giving the Department of Labor requirements of at least 20 days between when a ballot is sent and the ballots are counted, scheduling a run-off election would be extremely difficult since the printing and mailing process takes 3 days minimum and could not be begun until it is known if and, what, run-off election was needed".
International Constitution, Section 14.1 does not state anything about elections being "completed" by the 25th. It actually states that elections shall take place on or before the 25th. Any one could have simply looked this up and see that the use of "completed" is not correct for Section 14.1. You will find that Section 14.4 does state that elections must be completed by June 25th. Our Officers need to protect our membership and assure that our members are presented with accurate information.
The Department of labor does not require at least 20 days it requires a minimum of 15 days. Even with the 20 days as stated a run-off can happen if the election vote count took place the first few days of June and the run-off vote count done June 25th. Is the statement made in the memorandum true and what documents support it?

The memorandum in Issue: Requiring run-off elections  is most likely a close estimate and is not in argument. It is important for members to understand what a change might cost and how much it can increase by.

            Upon a full investigation it is good that the Executive Board did recommend "No" on the proposed bylaws change (even a broken clock is correct two times a day). Though the board made the correct recommendation they still allowed inaccurate information to be presented to the membership. It indicates that our officers do not investigate information presented to them to assure how accurate it is. It brings to question how often this happens. If officers just except information presented before them with little to no investigation are they the correct officers to protect the membership?

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