Governance of my Union Essay

Submitted By Cigual2002
Words: 850
Pages: 4

Writing: Paragraph to Essay
ENG 043
Instructor: Leanne Drapeau
Ciro Gutierrez

Can grassroots take over the governance of my Local Union? I have been a member of 32BJ Local Union in Hartford for many years. My Union is one of the most radical unions in the state because it is involved in progressive politics, developing a close relationship with the community and politicians, and it is part of SEIU 32BJ. In Connecticut, the District Union is governed by a District Board which is elected by the members every three years. The elections are ruled by the Union Bylaws. According to these laws any member of the Union in good standing has the right to be elected. This rule opens the opportunity for the members to reach the highest levels of leadership: District Leader or District Leader Assistant. After reviewing the history of my local union, I realized that no grassroots leaders have ever held these positions. For example, the current leaders have ruled my District Union for the last 20 years. At the national level the elected presidents have ruled the SEIU 32BJ for at least 12 to 15 years, on average. This seems like an abuse of power but it is not. It is consistent with the statutes which permit multiple periods of governance and automatic re-election of the incumbents, in case there are no opposing candidates when the elections take place. These rules facilitate autocratic government and when election time comes, the leaders in control prefer to stay in office through automatic re-election instead of giving members the opportunity to elect new leaders. We need to change these rules in order to promote a democratic environment within the Union. Until 2012, the current leaders had ruled my local union for at least 20 years and the members were thinking that a change of leadership was necessary. During the spring of 2012, in accordance with the bylaws, the executive board called elections for new officers at the national level. During the summer of 2012, Hartford members began to talk about the next election and decided the current leaders no longer represented their interests. After the official list of incumbents was presented, the grassroots members that were promoting the movement for change presented a second list. While the incumbents list was a continuation of the status quo, the grassroots’ list was formed with candidates, selected democratically among the members of the union. Despite its big commitment and new ideas, the grassroots’ list could not be registered for the elections and the incumbent list won again. The union election in 2012 was an unfair competition. The incumbents continued to rule the Union because the Bylaws served their interests. Their objective was not to put at risk their continuance in office and they made arrangements to control the electoral committee, the staff of advisors, and the resources of the Union. After that, the grassroots’ list suffered persistent intimidation. The principal target was the head of our list who received several calls demanding his resignation. Two days before the deadline to register candidates he resigned, and the electoral committee warned that our list would be invalidated in the absence his presence The result of electoral process also proves we were not well prepared to manage our organization. Our major flaws were lack of knowledge, many organizational