In recent months, AUD has gotten many inquiries, both by phone and email, from union members looking for guidance not only in running for office, but also in how to start reforming their unions when (and if) they take office.
But even before it comes to matters of refining bylaws and instituting policies that encourage transparency, candidates must navigate their union’s current election guidelines, making sure they are qualified to run under rules that can sometimes be arbitrary and confusing. From impossible-to-fulfill meeting attendance rules to surprise suspensions, many of AUD’s recent contacts have come from people who have been barred from running for office under questionable pretenses. And AUD has been there to answer their questions, guide them to the appropriate places to file complaints, and advise them of their possible next steps.
One of these callers is a teacher in New York with concerns about the requirements for running a slate. Another was elected President of the local, only to be impeached and ousted by another member of the Executive Board he says was previously convicted of fraud. Still another contacted AUD after having issues getting election observers allowed to be present for ballot counting. Another caller ended up deciding not to run because the nominating signature requirements alone were impossible to fulfill on top of his work schedule. Others have run into issues with accurate address lists for sending out election mailers and access to equal campaigning space. All of these issues negatively impact the ability of challengers to run effective opposition campaigns and can leave ineffective incumbents in office indefinitely.
In the fall of 2016, AUD will host a conference on running for office aimed at union members who have never done so before. We have speakers lined up who can speak to many of the issues mentioned in the previous paragraph and will answer attendees’ questions directly. But many people will run for office between now and then, and in the meantime, we still need your help to keep AUD going so we can provide union members with the guidance and support they need to avoid many of the pitfalls of running for office when challenging an entrenched incumbent (as well as the many other facets of union democracy we get calls regarding).
Once again, this is where you come in. Your support keeps AUD going year after year. Without you, we wouldn’t still be here. So please, give what you can. Be generous. The next generation of union reformers are counting on all of us.