The Election for Delegates to the LIUNA Convention.
Laborers Local 942 Election Judges just couldn’t wait to get started. They jumped right into the task. They took classes taught by the Election Judge and even had a book that told them how to do it step by step. The Election Judge approved the plan. And it cost us a bundle.
But still they managed to screw it up sending out the ballots before the campaign literature was even printed.
The judges of Local 942 had a meeting immediately after the nominations to determine who was eligible to run, to explain the process and to draw by lot, the candidate’s position on the ballot. The fact that only half the candidates were there and that the ballots would come out before the campaign literature didn’t matter, and forget about following the procedures in the Election Guide, which states:
“For the sake of fairness, the placement of names on the ballot will be determined by lot. As soon as possible after the candidates’ eligibility has been determined, and the deadline for forming slates has passed, the Election Judges shall determine the placement of candidates and slates on the ballot by a lot drawing. Candidates must be told the date, time and location of the lot drawing, and be afforded an opportunity to be present.
They just couldn’t wait to get out the ballots.
At the direction of Stephen Goldberg, LIUNA Election Officer, all ballots received as of 2:00 PM, May 22, 2001 in the Local 942 LIUNA Convention Delegate Election have been seized, impounded and transported to Seattle.
This is not just an isolated case but it appears to be a pattern through out the country of premature ballots and shoddy printing of campaign literature; from Local 98 in Montana to Local 79 in New York City reports of an election abuses are coming in. LIUNA Election judges have been running around the country trying to squash complaints by activists in the local unions.
The Election Judge, Professor Stephen Goldberg from Chicago, who was hired by Arthur Coia, before he was banned from LIUNA for life, ordered the ballots be impounded. A guy by the name of Ed Storm flies in from Seattle to take possession of the ballots and fly them back to Seattle. There were 182 ballots in the box on May 22nd at 2:00 pm.
The initial plan was that the ballots were to be taken to Seattle where they would stay until the vote count here in Fairbanks. Then they would be carried back to Fairbanks to be counted with the others.
Of the 182 ballots impounded, subsequently, 108 members resubmitted their ballots.
Now the new plan is that new ballots will be prepared and mailed to all members whose ballots had been seized on May 22nd. The Election Judges of Local 252 of Tacoma, Washington will conduct the mail-out. The labels placed on the impounded reply envelopes will be used to determine who will receive a new ballot.
At the conclusion of the mailing preparation process, the retrieved reply envelopes, containing the secret ballots, will be placed back in the box and sealed. All the proceedings will be videotaped. The ballots will be counted in a back room in Fairbanks and not in view of the general membership as has been done in the past. Of the 182 impounded ballots only 108 revoted.
The deadline for the campaign literature to be included in the mailing from LIUNA, was May 11th, 2001. It had to be sent to Seattle by that date.
The ballots were mailed on May 14th, 2001, in Fairbanks. I received mine on the 15th. But no campaign literature! It would be another week, May 22nd, before the literature arrived in Fairbanks and possibly later in the outlying areas.
I protested the premature ballot mailing to Sylvia Stratek, the Regional Coordinator of LIUNA elections. She forwarded my protest to the “appropriate parties for review”.
I got a response from a lawyer in Connecticut, Hank Murray, Assistant to the Election Officer, Steve Goldberg.
According to Hank, the printer, who is located in Las Vegas, received and printed the campaign material on May 14th, 2001 from Seattle and mailed it on May 15th. I requested to see the certificate from the printer verifying the numbers of units sent and the postage receipt. It hasn’t arrived yet. Documents submitted to the U. S. Department of Labor from the printer shows the actual pieces of campaign literature sent was 934.
Subsequently, I requested to know the number of all the returned mailed envelopes since it was sent first class and it would be needed to update any mailing list. This is a standard practise and by law, they are required to keep records. Also, a large number of returned undeliverable mailings would indicate an old mailing list was given to the LIUNA Election Judge for the campaign literature.
I did not find out the name of the printer, Time Printing of Las Vegas, until I made a formal protest, Hank later admitted that they did not kept copies of the literature returned as undeliverable but forwarded it to the International Headquarters so that they could update their mailing lists. He said that 981 pieces of campaign literature had been mailed.
Only two pieces of literature were submitted; the Business Manager’s slate and mine, for the LIUNA one page free mailing. The quality of the work was so poor, streaked and faded that it looked like it was made on a worn-out mimeograph machine that was running out of ink.
So now we have campaign literature sent to Seattle and forwarded to Las Vegas for printing and mailing. It gets here a week after the members receive their ballots and I find all this out from an attorney in Connecticut, who is speaking for the Regional Coordinator in Seattle and the Election Judge in Chicago.
The ballots seized from Fairbanks will be brought to Seattle and will be re-mailed by Election Judges of Local 252 in Tacoma, Washington.
Candidates in Fairbanks will virtually be denied their rights to have observers present at the Tacoma mailing of the ballots. It is a similar situation that occurred with the mailing of the campaign literature from Las Vegas with no observers notified or present. This is a violation of Article VI, Section 1(a) and Section 2 of the 2001 Election Rules. But we can watch it on a movie because they are going to tape it.
The ballot count in Fairbanks will take place on June 19th, 2001 in a back room that measures 16’ x 30’. Candidates will not be allowed in the same room but one of the two doors will be left opened and members will be able to view the proceedings from a window in the outside parking lot.
The Election Judges will use two counting teams consisting of three people each: one caller, one recorder and one observer. The Tanana Valley League of Women Voters will also serve as Election Observers of the Election count.
I will have two observers there and if other candidates exercised their rights there could be a total of 14 candidate observers. It could be congested quarters since the main conference table can't be moved out.
Why not just move the tables out to the large, roomy area where we have the hiring hall and local union meetings and where it has always been done in the past.
It would be opened to all members who wanted to witness the process and there would be plenty of room for all the observers to sit down and be sectioned off from the general public. I don’t see the purpose of stuffing everyone into a back room, out of sight of the members, when we have this spacious area out front. We pay the Local 942 Building Association $10,000 per month for rent.
My concern of counting in the back room and not in public is that over the years 2 of the 3 people who have nominated me for office have been beaten up. A fourth man who was a second, found a purse with a dead rat in it on his lawn.
While this may not happen in today's LIUNA under the Justice Department supervision of the Election Judge, the back room may afford an opportunity for bullying, intimidation and confusion to take place. It is a very bad precedent to set.
Arthur Coia was an enormous source of financial and political support to President Bill Clinton and his allies. He was the only officer of a major union to support NAFTA. They sent each other golf clubs; he even had a sleepover at the White House.
After being called a “mob puppet” by Justice Department officials, Coia was still allowed to keep his job as General President if he reformed the Laborers.
Even after being convicted of felony mail fraud, disbarred as an attorney, banned from the union for life, fined and on probation, Coia was still allowed to remain as President Emeritus with a guaranteed salary of $250,000 for the rest of his life. The Justice Department saw nothing wrong with this but they aren’t the ones paying the bill.
The Election Officer, Stephen Goldberg was hired by Arthur Coia to run Elections.
At the 1996 LIUNA Convention, the computers counting the ballots for the election of International Officers crashed six times during the count. Goldberg had the delegates voting for resolutions and officers at the same time, in order to meet the deadline. Large groups of Delegates were not present when votes were taken nor positions argued.
It was a mess. But the deadlines became more important than the actual democratic process.
Clinton’s personal attorney, W. Neil Eggleston, is the LIUNA Appellate Judge, the man who makes the final decision on election appeals and appeals from the Local Union and District Council Trial Boards and the Independent Hearings Officer. Arthur Coia hired him.
When I appealed the decision of the Election Judge to Eggleston regarding ballot positioning, he ruled against me. He agreed that the rules had been violated, but since I was present I had no standing to complain.
He also said that if the other candidates complained there would be a problem. Well, they aren’t going to complain because they are all on the Business Manager’s slate.
Eggleston was saying it’s OK to break the rules as long as no one complains.
The election here in Fairbanks has been compromised because the ballots were mailed before the campaign literature was printed. The campaign literature was printed and mailed with no candidates or observers present. And information regarding the printing seems hard to come by. And it seems the mailing lists used to send the ballots was diferent than the mailing list used to send the campaign literature.
Judges in another state will mail the seized ballots also with no candidates or observers present but we were notified of the time and place and who would do the work.
Other members say they received ballots but no literature and a friend in Fort Lauderdale has literature, but no ballot.
Two separate mailing lists were used. One for the ballots and another for the campaign literature.
The significance of two different mailing lists being used is that one man receives his ballot ten days after the polls open and his campaign literature, routed from Virginia, five days before the polls close. How many members were not reached by the campaign literature ?. .
According to Local 942 Election Judges 1047 ballots were originally mailed and according to the statement of the Las Vegas printer only 934 campaign literature were mailed and this on an antiquated list!
The significance of the man in Fort Lauderdale getting shoddy campaign literature but no ballot at that address behooves him to contact people in Chicago or local officials for a ballot that forces him to bring attention on himself which he may not feel comfortable to do.
Literature forwarded from old address get there a few days before the polls closed. The timeliness of the campaign literature in elections is vital for it to be meaningful
Candidates not having a chance to inspect the list nor be present or have their representatives present when the literature was mailed or were not even notified violates the fundamental principals of democratic process. The LIUNA Election Judges are the experts we look to set the standards and pay to govern this affair.
The certification I requested is a statement or affidavit from the printer as to the number of pieces of campaign literature that was produced and mailed. This here is done locally by our printer, Commencial Printers.
The number pieces of campaign literature mailed should be the same number as ballots mailed. I have seen elections lost by 8 or 10 votes and not to mention the debacle in the state of Florida which is an extreme example, but there too, mailing lists and voter registration were purged in the back rooms with no observers present.
I still haven’t received the certificate from the printer in Las Vegas from Hank Murray to compare the number of ballots with the number of campaign literature sent. We do not know who supervised this mailing or who checked to see if the mailing list used was the same as the mailing list used to mail the ballots. The International Election Judge somehow feel they are above reproach. A complaint has been filed with the U. S. Department of Labor.
So far we have spent between $35 and $40 million dollars to reform this union. About 400 officials have been thrown out on corruption charges. Many activists felt the reforms were only token and many rank and file members do not see any changes.
I mentioned in my campaign literature the removing Arthur Coia as President Emeritus of LIUNA and stopping his $250,000 lifetime salary, which may not have anything to do with this debacle, it does become suspect. Local 942's members passed a motion at the local union meeting to remove Arthur Coia as President Emeritus and stop his $250,000 salary
A lot of honest, hardworking Laborers are paying dearly for it, so we ought to try and see that the Election Judge gets it right. The Election Judge should be held to a higher standard than the usual toadies appointed by Business Managers
A Delegate to the LIUNA Convention is an elected position and the process of that election should be held to no lesser standard than more highly visible elected positions of the General Executive Board. Only through a taint free electoral process that LIUNA members will learn to invest confidence in democratic institutions. There have been serious flaws in the voting process and denial of basic democratic rights.
I believe the Election Judge should be more concerned with the stability and integrity of the electoral process and should should themselves, abide by the rules.
The bottom line and litmus test is an honest and fair election process. Where the winners and losers walk away feeling that the members have decided on the candidates and issues.
I think the only fair thing to do in this situation is to send out new ballots to all the members where the envelope is clearly marked “New Ballot”. I would enclose in the envelope new and legible copies of the campaign literature with an explanation of why this has occurred.
This can be done before the Convention. The problems we have are systemic. They won’t just go away. We can do better than this.
Thanking you for your kind attention. I hope this helps clear up your concerns.
Laborers for a Democratic Union