An accurate election update: Open letter to the UAW 2865 membership

3 May

An accurate election update

Open letter to the UAW 2865 membership

Dear colleagues,

I am a graduate student in Environmental Science, a current GSI in Physics and the Berkeley representative on the UAW 2865 Elections Committee. As a participant in last weekend’s vote counting in Los Angeles, I found the latest ‘Election Update’ sent to members to be inaccurate, or at least misleading. I hope to provide here some new information that you wouldn’t find in this election update or in the numerous partisan e-mails.

It is true that there were a “large number of challenges presented by candidates and their representatives on both sides of the election contest”. That was on Friday, the first day of the count. On Saturday morning, the Election Committee convened and decided that none of these challenges prevented the counting of ballots from proceeding.

The most misleading claim of Travis Knowles’ Election Update is the following: “The reason we took this action is that there was no way to properly assess the challenges being made by both sides because of the level of hostility in the crowded ballot count room on Saturday night.” There was definitely commotion and hostility in the room on Saturday night, but only after the decision to suspend the count.

On Saturday afternoon, we had the most productive phase of the whole counting process. Election Committee members, with the collaboration of challengers from both sides, counted the votes from four campuses in six hours. At that pace, Berkeley and UCLA’s ballots would have been counted in another six or seven hours. Chair Travis Knowles suggested that we take a break and reconvened at 7pm. Election Committee members and challengers waited for his return until 8pm. At his return, he made a snap motion to halt the count, and then adjourned the meeting.

Finally, I want to put on the record that the decision to suspend the count before UC Berkeley and UCLA ballots were counted was not approved by a majority of the Election Committee. (UC Merced ballots were also not counted, but only because they were never brought to the ballot count in LA.) The motion was made in haste by Chair Travis Knowles, was not discussed or debated, and was considered passed after being approved by only three out of six committee members present in the room. The member from UCLA was absent at the time of the vote. The members from Riverside, Santa Cruz and myself were blindsided and had no time to process what was happening, let alone participate in the vote. The three Election Committee members who approved this action promptly left the room, leaving the rest of us in the middle of the commotion their surprise motion had created.

As an Election Committee member who was literally left behind, I have yet to hear the real reason why the count was suspended that night, why half the committee was not consulted before taking this course of action, and why the plan set by the whole committee in the morning was not followed. If you also have questions about this, you can send them to . I hope that no matter what is your campus or political affiliation, your voices will be heard and you will receive answers.


Philippe Marchand

Berkeley representative to the UAW 2865 Election Committee


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