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Totten strikes back!


 

As you may know, there's a movement afoot inside the Boston Newspaper Guild, the Globe's largest union, to hold a recall election. The impetus? Dissatisfaction with the way the Guild's leaders--including Guild head Dan Totten--handled the recent concede-or-close threat from the New York Times Company.

According to the Guild's bylaws, the recall-election process is actually pretty straightforward:

A recall election may be initiated in two ways: (a) The Governing Board, by a two-thirds vote of its entire membership, may initiate a recall election process in the case of some or all union officers or delegates; or (b) the membership may initiate a recall election process with 20 percent of the membership signing a petition to the Governing Board for that purpose.

1. The Governing Board must so inform the membership of this decision and reasons for this decision within 10 days.

2. The Governing Board must call a general membership meeting for the purpose of discussing this decision.

3. The general membership will then have the power to call a special election under the election procedures in Article III. 

Earlier today, though, I was forwarded an email--originally sent by Totten--which argues, basically, that it's not that simple. In the message, Totten says that the Guild's bylaws are actually trumped by the bylaws of the Communications Workers of America, the Guild's parent union. And the CWA's recall protocol is way, way, way more complicated than the Guild's.

Totten's email follows. It's eye-glazing stuff, but the major point seems to be this: according to the CWA, recalls involve specific allegations of misconduct--and union leaders can determine that these allegations are unsound, thereby fending off a recall unless proponents can mount a successful appeal. In short, if the Guild's rules are trumped by the CWA's, it becomes a whole lot harder to unseat Totten and his fellow Guild heavyweights. 

 --------------------

Dear Colleague,

In response to a request from BNG member Jenna Russell, I am directing you to the recall provision language of the constitution of the CWA.  Under labor law, the constitution of a parent union takes precedence over local by-laws. The TNG constitution incorporates the CWA constitution, which thus provides the below language.  If a matter is treated more comprehensively or in a more detailed process than in local bylaws, the hierarchy of bylaws is that the CWA constitution/bylaws take precedence. The CWA language pertaining to a recall petition can be found in Articles XXI and XXII which state:

Article XXI—Recall Petition Against Persons Holding Elective Office in the Union Section 1—Petition for Recall of Union Officers and Executive Board Members. A petition for recall of an officer of the Union or any member of the Executive Board:

(1) May be preferred by one-third (1/3) of the full membership of the Executive Board;

(2) May be preferred by twenty percent (20%) of Locals representing twenty percent (20%) of the membership of the Union;

(3) May be preferred against a Vice President of a District by twenty percent (20%) of the Locals representing twenty percent (20%) of the membership within the District, and may be preferred against the Communications and Technologies Vice President, Telecommunications Vice President, Public, Health Care and Education Workers Vice President, Printing, Publishing and Media Workers Sector Vice President, the TNG-CWA Sector Vice President, the NABET-CWA Sector Vice President, the IUE-CWA Division Vice President, and the AFA-CWA Sector Vice President by twenty percent (20%) of the Locals representing twenty percent (20%) of the
membership of the units the affected Vice President represents;

(4) Shall be in writing and signed by the accusing member or members or may be accompanied by attested copies of appropriate resolutions adopted by a Local or Locals;

(5) Shall contain a description of the offense or offenses as specified in Article XIX, Section 1, and the approximate date or dates thereof;

(6) Shall be submitted within sixty (60) days from the time the accusing members became aware of the alleged offense or offenses;

(7) Shall be filed with the Secretary-Treasurer of the Union, provided, however, that a Petition directed against the Secretary-Treasurer shall be filed with the President.

Should the Secretary-Treasurer or the President receiving the petition conclude that the offense or offenses described are too vague or frivolous to warrant submission to a referendum, that determination shall be presented in writing to the petitioners and to the accused. The determination shall become final unless appealed by one or more of the petitioners within thirty (30) days after receipt, using the procedures established pursuant to Article IX, Section 7, of the Constitution.

Section 2—Recall Petition Against Local Officers A petition for recall of an Officer of a Local:

(1) May be preferred by twenty percent (20%) of the membership of a Local;

(2) Shall be in writing and signed by the accusing members;

(3) Shall contain the description of the offense or offenses as specified in Article XIX, Section 1, and the approximate dates thereof;

(4) Shall be submitted within sixty (60) days from the time the accusing members became aware of the alleged offense or offenses;

(5) Shall be filed with the recording officer of the Local, provided, however, that a petition directed against the recording officer shall be filed with the President of the Local. Should both the recording officer and the President of the Local be involved as either accuser or accused the petition shall be filed with the Local election committee;

(6) Should the officer or the election committee receiving the petition determine that the offense or offenses described are too vague or frivolous to warrant submission to a referendum, a report and recommendation to that effect shall be presented in writing to the governing body of the Local. Copies of the report and recommendation shall be served on all petitioners and the accused. Unless reversed by the governing body or appealed by one or more of the petitioners within thirty (30) days after receipt, the recommendation shall become final. If appealed, the procedures of Article IX, Section 7, shall apply. [emph. added]

Section 3— Suspension Pending Determination An Officer of the Union, Member of the Executive Board, or Local Officer against whom a petition for recall has been filed for alleged “misappropriating money or property of the Union or Local” may be suspended by a majority vote of the Executive Board pending the determination of the recall proceedings, and the Union shall cause a substitute to be appointed to serve in the person’s stead during the person’s suspension.

Section 4—Recall Proceedings

The proceedings on a petition for recall shall be in accordance with the provisions of Article XXII.

Article XXII—Referendum and Recall

Section 1

The Convention or the Executive Board may order a referendum with respect to any subject or policy within their jurisdiction or as otherwise provided in this Constitution.

Section 2

The notice of referendum and requisite number of printed ballots shall be forwarded to each Local by mail by the Secretary-Treasurer of the Union. The notice of referendum and the ballots shall contain the proposition to be voted upon and shall require a return within sixty (60) days from the date of mailing to the Local.

Section 3

Upon receipt of the notice of referendum, each Local shall conduct the referendum among its members and shall forward the results to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Union by receipted registered mail.

Section 4

All referenda shall be by secret ballot. A majority of the votes cast shall determine the referendum.

Section 5

A referendum shall also be ordered by the Executive Board of the Union if twenty percent (20%) or more of the Locals representing twenty percent (20%) or more of the members of the Union, shall certify in writing to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Union their desire for a referendum on any particular subject.

Section 6

Any officer or member of the Executive Board may be recalled by two-thirds

(2/3) of those voting

at the Convention or in a general referendum if two-thirds (2/3) of the votes cast in such a referendum favor recall.

Section 7

(a) A Vice President of a District may be recalled by the Delegates from that District at an International Convention by two-thirds (2/3) vote of those voting on the question, or by a referendum among the members of the Union in the District if two-thirds

(2/3) of the votes cast in

such referendum favor recall.

(b) The Communications and Technologies Vice President and Telecommunications Vice President may be recalled by Delegates at an International Convention, who represent the membership of their respective bargaining units, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of those voting on the question or by a referendum among the members of the Union in the units the affected Vice President represents, if two-thirds (2/3) of the votes cast in such referendum favor recall.

(c) The Public, Health Care and Education Workers Vice President, the Printing, Publishing and Media Workers Sector Vice President, the TNG-CWA Sector Vice President, the NABET-CWA Sector Vice President, and the IUE-CWA Division Vice President may be recalled by delegates at an International Convention, who represent the membership of their respective units, by a two-thirds

(2/3) vote of those voting on the question, or by a referendum among the members of the Union in the units the affected Vice President represents, if two-thirds

(2/3) of the votes cast in

such referendum favor recall.

(d) The AFA-CWA Sector Vice President may be recalled by delegates at an International Convention, who represent the membership of the AFA-CWA Sector, by a majority vote of those voting on the question or by a referendum among the members of the Union in the AFA-CWA Sector, if two-thirds (2/3) of the votes cast in such referendum favor recall.

Section 8

Local Officers shall be recalled by an affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members voting on the question in a referendum which shall be conducted in accordance with Article XV, Section 4 (a), of the Constitution.

Section 9

All recall votes of the membership must meet the procedural requirements which apply to the election of officers.

Sincerely,

Dan Totten

[Cross-posted at Beat the Press]

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