This Letter is a Repost from THOSE WHO USE IT
Dear colleagues, comrades, and members of the UAW 2865,
My name is Matthew Luckett, and I am the recording secretary-elect for UCLA and a candidate for sergeant at arms in the recent UAW 2865 union election. As a member of the United for Economic and Social Justice caucus, I supported the outgoing administration’s strategic approach to bargaining, as well as the contract we’ve recently ratified. I am also proud of my slate and the campaign we ran, which I believe was mostly fair, honest, and positive, in spite of the election’s heated and divisive tone. However, I am stunned by my caucus’s decision this past weekend to reject the results of the Executive Board and Joint Council election, which we lost by several hundred votes, and to call for a new election.
Although some members of the USEJ slate have valid concerns, there is not enough evidence to justify the disenfranchisement of the thousands who voted several weeks ago and reject wholesale the results of the election. As the UCLA Graduate Students Association has pointed out, both sides are guilty of tit for tat challenges and breeches of protocol (which are inevitable, since we only run these elections once every three years, and few of us have much experience with the process). However, when all of the challenges are counted up, any suspicions of malfeasance will rightly or wrongly fall on the administration caucus, whose candidates are believed to have the most to lose. In other words, if anyone is believed to be guilty of fixing the election, it is us. Therefore, any accusations of illegality against AWDU need to meet an extremely, perhaps impossibly, heavy burden of proof in order for us to avoid being seen as sore losers. Our case needs to be airtight and above reproach, and even the GSA and the Huffington Post must be forced to admit the veracity of our claims. This particular case, however, is not convincing to me. And if I (as someone who has a lot to gain from a new election) am not convinced, then I cannot believe that public opinion will rule in its favor. If anything, I fear that public opinion will come crashing down against it.
Barring the discovery of a smoking gun that proves electoral misconduct, any effort to invalidate the election is sure to backfire. Even if the challenge is won and another election takes place, I will have serious doubts about our union’s ability to win the voters’ trust and confidence that their votes will mean something. Moreover, I will doubt our union’s ability to marshal a united front against the UC during the next round of contract negotiations. As leaders of the union, we must always put the students we serve and their interests above our own, and I am not convinced that this decision was made with those students’ interests at heart.
The first election was a positive event in the long term, even if the results weren’t what we hoped for. Over three thousand students decided to spend anywhere from a few minutes to several weeks of their time participating in a high-stakes, exciting election for the heart and soul of our union. However, the divisions between USEJ and AWDU also generated a lot of hostility and resentment, and these wounds will take time to heal. Thus, given the bad blood and conspiratorial paranoia that has existed among members of both caucuses since the election, I am afraid that a second election will destroy this union.
If our local is important enough to USEJ that they are willing to run once again through the political gauntlet, then its efforts should be devoted towards bringing our union back together. As the fight against the Board of Regent’s proposed 40% tuition hike intensifies, we must not think of ourselves as members of a particular caucus, but as workers united against budget cuts in Sacramento and TA cuts in our home departments.
Finally, on a personal note, I am tired of this election. Many of the other candidates are tired of this election. In fact, I believe that most of the candidates and the vast majority of the voters are ready to move on with their lives and begin the business of rebuilding solidarity within this union. I lost my race for sergeant at arms; it is over. I conceded defeat three weeks ago. I will not wage another campaign for a race that I feel I lost fair and square, and I am having a difficult time empathizing with anyone who is ready to kick off another round.
Thus, in light of all that we’ve been through during the last few weeks, I call on the USEJ to drop its demand for a new election and to pass the torch to AWDU. Likewise, I call on AWDU to refrain from responding to this call with any retaliatory efforts to disenfranchise any of our own voters, so that we may begin to put this election behind us once and for all. Together, we must start fighting on behalf of the rank and file members with a common purpose and a shared resolve.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” In this growing hurricane of budget cuts, ballooning deficits, and corporate schemes to privatize our public universities, the union is the only shelter we have against the storm. So, rather than taking a sledgehammer to the roof, let’s all try to weather it together.
UCLA Recording Secretary-elect, USEJ