It will take until early December and perhaps later to elect the top officers of the United Auto Workers under the elections rules and procedures filed by the by court-appointed monitor responsible for overseeing the union’s internal affairs.
The new procedures for electing the union’s top officers follow the outcome of a referendum last fall in which union members voted by a decisive 64% margin to scrap the UAW’s old way of selecting top officers through a vote by convention delegates. The referendum followed a corruption scandal in which a dozen union officers and officials, including two past presidents, pleaded guilty to corruption charges.
Under the procedures spelled out in a filing in the U.S District Court in Detroit, Neil Barofsky, the court-appointed monitor, said nominations for the President, Secretary Treasurer and three vice presidents will take place during the union’s constitutional convention scheduled for July 25 to July 28.
A candidate forum or forums will be held in September, while ballots will be mailed to union members, when the eligibility lists are finalized Oct. 18. Any union member who doesn’t receive a ballot has until Nov. 11 to request a ballot and all ballots must be in the hands of the post office by Nov. 28. The election officer selected by the monitor will start counting ballots Nov. 29 and continue until it’s finished.
July convention to decide rules on run-off
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in July will decide on a proposal where in close elections offices will be filled through “Ranked Choice” voting where voters mark their first choice, their second choice and so on. Ranked choice is also known as instant runoff since it is designed so that a clear winner emerges.
Delegates also can decide on a mail-in run-off vote between the leading contenders. A run-off election extends the voting into January or later.
The rules and procedures also include strict prohibitions against retaliation or discrimination against any union member who expresses an opinion or campaigns for a specific candidate. Union members had complained the “administration” caucus, which has controlled the UAW’s inner workings for most of its history, routinely used threats and intimidation against opponents to perpetuate one part rule.
Retirees barred from top offices
The monitor also says the union members campaigning for union office under the revised constitution may not use union resources of any kind to promote their bid for office. Nor may they use resources from outside organizations, particularly employers to promote their campaigns.
The prohibitions included in the monitor’s report following the mandates that have been part of federal labor law since the 1950s. The federal regulations have been largely ignored inside the UAW, according to the union members, who have been critical of the union’s lack of internal democracy.
The monitor did accept a recommendation prepared by the UAW current executive board on qualifications for office.
Earlier this spring, the UAW adopted a recommendation from the union’s legal staff and President Ray Curry, stating retirees may not run for executive board offices under the revised constitution even though retirees hold local union office in many cases and are critical to the maintenance of union influence in many areas.
The recommendation on qualifications was passed on what a memo prepared for Curry noted was union practices going back more than 60 years, stating retirees could not vote on contracts subject to collective bargaining.
“The UAW’s institutional policy for excluding retirees from voting in, or holding, union positions which involve grievance handling or collective bargaining responsibilities is premised on the notion that retirees’ primary interests extend to retirement benefits, potentially to the detriment or in conflict with active employees’ interests in wage rates, hours, working conditions, and other terms of active employment,” the memo noted.
The policy, however, appears to ignore the reality of the union’s underlying demographics, where more than 60% of the UAW’s underlying membership is retirees.