This is blunt and true: After losing their bids for every seat on the ballot in March, SDEA’s current leadership is now using their procedural control of our internal union election process to overturn the clear will of SDEA member voters. Today they announced they are CANCELING the run-off until further notice.
Here is what is happening:
Ballots for the SDEA election run-off began arriving today. I received my ballot in the mail and opened it to discover that Stephanie Marble (SDEA Board Seat 8) and I (CTA Seat 4) weren’t on it. Only election materials for Board Seat 1 (Ahlgren vs. Anderson) and CTA Seat 5 (Sanchez vs. Mullin) had been included. I called SDEA to find out why. SDEA Contract Specialist Rafal Dobrowolski, the staff person who handles our elections, told me that the SDEA Elections Committee instructed him to pull the two seats off of the run-off ballot because of election challenges, even though the SDEA Board has not heard about or voted on these challenges yet, as is required by the SDEA_Standing_Rules. Apparently this is just the beginning. According to Dobrowolski, there are pending challenges on nearly every single seat. And the candidates running for the seats that were removed from the ballot were never notified. STRIKE ONE.
Furthermore, SDEA pulled the WRONG CTA seat from the ballot. When I asked why I was not on the ballot, Dobrowolski asked if I was running against current SDEA Board member Scott Mullin, making me think Mullin had filed the challenge. I said no. According to Dobrowolski, the challenge was for CTA Seat 5, and the Election Committee waited until we were all on Spring Break to have SDEA call the printer and pull CTA Seat 5 off the ballot… But in the last minute rush, CTA Seat 4 was pulled off of our ballot instead. How much will this error on the part of SDEA’s current staff and leadership cost our membership in printing and mailing costs? STRIKE TWO.
This comes on the heels of the SDEA Board voting (in accordance with the Election Committee’s recommendation) to uphold a frivolous challenge by sitting Vice President Lindsay Burningham because a non-candidate teacher sent an email to her colleagues promoting our slate, before the election window had even opened. And while the Elections Committee Co-Chair Kandi Nieto was sharing information with the SDEA Board about the challenge for CTA Seat 15, never once did anyone bother to tell Michelle Sanchez (who was sitting right there and performing her job as Secretary) that there had been an election challenge for CTA Seat 5 and that it would be pulled from the ballot before the Board ever had a chance to rule on the challenge. STRIKE THREE.
This is unacceptable. We need new union leaders who can run an election and actually follow the Standing Rules all of the time, and NOT just when it serves their personal or political interest. The SDEA Board meets again this Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at the SDEA office. We need to show up and demand answers, an end to upholding frivolous challenges, and a fair election run by someone completely unconnected to SDEA.
— By Shane Parmely, Run-off Candidate for CTA State Council and Twain HS CR