SDEA Already Putting Up Election Roadblocks

We were hoping to have an uneventful and smooth experience as The Breakfast Club runs its first slate of candidates in the current SDEA Board election.  Ha!  What were we thinking?!  Unfortunately, so far SDEA has removed Stephanie Marble as a candidate on the ballot for Board Seat 8, and is changing the rules about how members can use our mailboxes to communicate with each other about the election. Read below for details and how we can navigate these last-minute obstacles.

Stephanie Marble Named and Then Unnamed as Candidate for Seat 8

— By Shane Parmely, Twain CR and CTA State Council Candidate

What Happened?

Part of the process for SDEA Board elections is that the SDEA Elections Committee chair reads the list of current candidates to the entire SDEA Rep. Council immediately prior to the closing the of nominations period. This important part of our process allows our site reps to nominate additional people they think should be on the ballot. It also allows anyone who thinks that they should be on the list, but are not, to immediately resubmit their paperwork before the 5 p.m. deadline.

As we have written about already, the Breakfast Club recruited a slate of candidates we believe will be honest, strong leaders for our union (download the flier HERE). We’ve worked with our candidates to take every procedural caution in anticipation of the resistance we know we face from current SDEA leadership and their effort to maintain their control of the SDEA Board.  So at the last Rep. Council, I was ready to nominate all of our candidates from the floor in the event that their names weren’t on the list. But SDEA Elections Committee Co-Chair Kandi Nieto announced each of our candidates as already on the list, and invited all of them up to give their speeches. She very clearly told the Rep. Council that all of our candidates, absolutely including Stephanie Marble, had declared their candidacy and hence would be on the ballot. (If Marble’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she is the SDEA member that initiated and turned in a recall petition for Dennis Schamp. In fact, she is the only member who turned in a petition, because we believe she collected enough signatures.)

Imagine our surprise, then, when Marble received an email first from Nieto and then from SDEA Contract Specialist Larry Moreno the next evening telling her that they had not received her Declaration of Candidacy form and that if she could not provide proof that she had submitted it, then Stephanie would be removed from the ballot.  To Marble’s credit, she realized that she was still in possession of the form (she thought she had turned in both forms at the same time, but apparently had only turned in her Candidate’s Statement) and was honest and admitted her mistake.  However, upon examination of the Election Standing Rules, it became very clear that this misunderstanding never would have happened if proper procedure had been followed by SDEA Secretary Maureen Purvis in accepting her paperwork — procedures put in place in order to prevent exactly this sort of situation from ever occurring in the first place.

Marble responded pointing out the several violations of the SDEA Standing Rules that occurred surrounding the submission of her paperwork.  Most significantly, she and several other candidates were not given a receipt of submission prior to the closing of the nomination period, which is supposed to take place.  Several candidates even requested a receipt and were told they didn’t need one.

When I called and spoke with Nieto about this, the two key points she reiterated were that the candidate was “culpable” for ensuring that the correct paperwork had been turned in, and that she and Purvis were “inundated with paperwork” because everyone turned in their forms at the last minute.  Nieto also explained that other candidates that she had announced, were also going to be left off the ballot because their paperwork was incomplete.  (If you are one of these candidates, please email us.)  As I see it, that simply underscores the fact that the collection of candidates’ paperwork was handled improperly across the board. I know that Nieto and her Co-Chair Karen Ellsworth work very hard and that this is their second spring Board election, but how is it that SDEA doesn’t have an established procedure that is easy for Election Committee members to implement? Nieto did say the Elections Committee could use more help, so if you’re interested, let her know.

After hearing all of this, I am left wondering why the largest education union in San Diego County doesn’t address its ongoing problem of confusing election filing forms and practices.  Really, it shouldn’t be this hard. And how is it that the Election Committee was working with an SDEA staff secretary who makes more than the vast majority of SDEA teachers, and we still don’t have an efficient, established procedure for accepting election paperwork and giving candidates a user-friendly, detailed receipt?

So even though Marble was not given the receipt she asked for when she turned in her paperwork, as required by our Standing Rules… And even though she was announced along with the members as having declared her candidacy… And even though she was called up to give her campaign speech along with all the other candidates…  SDEA is standing their ground on their removal of Stephanie Marble’s name from the ballot.

What Can We Do about It?

While we’re also preparing to file an election challenge based on SDEA’s violations of the Standing Rules, we can run a write-in campaign for Stephanie Marble RIGHT NOW!  There are several candidates for this seat, and if no one gets more than fifty percent of the vote, there will be a run-off. There are absolutely enough of us to write her in and get her into the top two. Who can vote for this seat? Any secondary teacher in the Clairemont, Henry, Kearny, and Point Loma high school clusters. Click HERE to download our revised “Write-In Stephanie” campaign flier. Pass them out, and encourage your friends to share the word!

SDEA Changes the Rules on SDEA Member Mailboxes

— By Michelle Sanchez, SDEA Secretary and CTA State Council Candidate

What Happened?

When I ran for SDEA office last spring alongside SDEA President Bill Freeman, all of us absolutely shared our campaign flyers with our fellow members via District mailboxes. This has been part of SDEA’s long-standing elections practice. SDEA’s current stance regarding District mailboxes is that union members can only distribute union-related materials that have been approved by SDEA. Regardless of the validity of that stance (and there are some real problems with it), that should not cause any problems for sharing campaign flyers, because the election flyers have to be approved by SDEA. In fact, SDEA then sends them out through District mail to AR’s District mailboxes.

No problem, right?

Wrong. After last week’s SDEA Board meeting, SDEA Elections Co-Chair Nieto informed me that this time around, SDEA’s position is that flyers cannot be shared in District mailboxes.

This is flat-out wrong. It’s incredibly disturbing to see SDEA’s current leadership continue to change the rules of the game (or to completely ignore the rules) whenever it best suits them.  SDEA’s current leadership is apparently willing to take away union members’ tools for communicating with each other rather than risk members seeing the SDEA-approved campaign fliers that a colleague may want to put in your mailbox.

What Can We Do about It?

We can spread the word through old-fashioned organizing. That means passing out flyers face-to-face, which frankly, is better anyway.  Make sure you download our campaign flier HERE. Print copies at home, and then share them with all of your friends at school.  Pro tip: Highlight the candidates that your colleagues can vote for.  (Don’t forget the CTA candidates as the bottom of the flier!)

Let’s not allow SDEA’s attempts to crack down on internal member-to-member communication get in the way of electing the SDEA Board we deserve and need as we head into bargaining next year!

4 thoughts on “SDEA Already Putting Up Election Roadblocks

  1. What is SDEA thinking regarding the fliers? The fliers already arrived in my district mailbox, as AR, ready for me to post on the Union bulletin board, which I already did. SO SDEA can use the mailbox to distribute fliers, but the AR cannot do the same? Nor any other union member do the same? CRAZY!

    • Not crazy.

      Probably illegal.

      Do it anyway.

      And if your flyers mysteriously disappear from your board (like maybe after a visit from union leadership) put them back up. And be sure to talk to your membership too. You have a right to hold a meeting at any time about anything. It’s a voluntary meeting, but you have a right to have one.

  2. SDEA has gone from an example of a democratic organization to an example of a fascist organization.

    I’d love to write in Stephanie Marble but I ceased my membership quite right after our “new” contract was ratified.

    Sorry, but I can’t be part of such an undemocratic organization led by someone that has become the poster boy for what the right wing considers corrupt union leadership. SDEA used to be the exception to that generalization. Now they have become the rule. And I will not be a part of that.

    After Freeman is gone and the board has been taken back, I’ll be glad to rejoin. I was a union member for over 34 years. I served as an AR for at least half of them. But I will not be a party to what SDEA has become.

  3. Pingback: NEW: SDEA Violations of the Standing Rules during the 2013 Internal Election | The Breakfast Club Action Group

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