In an act that is truly unbelievable, SDEA Election Committee Co-Chairs Kandi Nieto and Karen Ellsworth have formally notified us that SDEA is refusing to tell the recall petition filers how many signatures we need to get in order to hit 25% of the recall subjects’ constituencies.
That means involved SDEA members will literally have to guess whether or not we’ve hit 25% and then turn in the recall petitions. SDEA’s formal position is that the Bylaws allow a recall with a 25% threshold… but that no one can know what 25% is.
That is just absurd.
Why is this happening? According to Ellsworth, “SDEA has responded that to acquire those numbers at this time would involve paid, researching man-hours and, therefore, use of SDEA resources. Since Recall Guidelines Section XIII forbids this, the numbers are not available to us. Consequently, we have none to share with you.”
It is obvious that this is not an invention of Nieto and Ellsworth, and as we’ve written before, we know that they work very hard as SDEA’s Election Committee Co-Chairs, and take their duties very seriously. We know that they are being advised by SDEA’s current leadership, and also by CTA according to a follow-up email from Nieto. And it is just as obvious that the current leadership of SDEA and CTA are trying to prevent SDEA members from exercising our democratic rights. This is exactly the sort of behavior that prompted SDEA members to launch a recall in the first place.
(By the way, we’ve already written HERE and HERE about why our current relationship with CTA is troubling — including the fact that for the first time in years, our new SDEA Executive Director Tim Hill is an employee of CTA, not SDEA, thanks to a decision by SDEA President Bill Freeman and the current SDEA Board. This most recent insertion by CTA into our internal election processes only deepens those concerns.)
Why is this position absurd?
First of all, the cited section of the SDEA Bylaws precludes staff from influencing the outcome of SDEA elections, not from providing the logistical tools we members need to participate in those election processes ourselves. It would violate the Bylaws for one of the staff Field Organizers to stand up at a union meeting and urge us not to sign the recall petition. It would not violate the bylaws to tell us what 25% of the entire membership is in the first place.
Second of all, there is a long-standing practice that SDEA staff give members the tools we need to participate in the elections process. For example, every time an SDEA member has run for an SDEA Board seat, he or she has been given a list of the eligible sites and ARs — including the number of members at each site — that vote for that Board seat for the purpose of running his or her campaign. That was never considered to be using staff resources to influence an election in the past. In fact, the same candidates who are now facing a recall were given this very information — under the same language in our Bylaws — when they ran for office just this last spring! But now that people who disagree with the current leadership are asking for staff to provide the same type of information they’ve always provided, we’re being told it breaks the rules.
Third, this shouldn’t take staff time at all anyway. According the Bylaws, the SDEA Secretary is supposed to maintain the membership list, not SDEA staff. But SDEA President Bill Freeman is refusing to give SDEA Secretary Michelle Sanchez access to the membership list, and is in fact working with his new Bylaws Committee to change the Bylaws themselves so he won’t have to follow them! (See previous post HERE.)
Fourth, Ellsworth told us, “Our [the Election Committee’s] access to those records comes when we have to verify signatures after the petitions are submitted.” That means that SDEA staff will eventually provide the number of members to the Election Committee, which will require paid staff time to facilitate the recall process (probably a whopping five minutes of it since they obviously know how many of us they are, and certainly have no problem counting us to take our dues each month). But they are refusing to do so until it is too late for petition gatherers to know what threshold we need to hit. This is so very clearly not the intent of the SDEA Bylaws it’s laughable. Unfortunately we’re not laughing because this is happening in real life.
You can view the original email chains here: Election Committee Emails
If you want to get involved in recalling the people who are twisting the rules for their own benefit, go to THIS PAGE, download the materials, and get involved. If we sit quietly and let our union leadership trample our democratic rights, we will all have to live in the world we allow them to create.