O'Meara, Szekely election affirmed as committee rejects challenges
Guild President Bill O’Meara, Secretary-Treasurer Peter Szekely and all but one of the members of their slate were given their final certification as elected officers late Thursday by a Local Elections Committee that rejected 21 challenges to last month’s voting results and declared itself the exclusive first-step referee of election disputes.
Challenges to the Nov. 14 election outcome, in which O’Meara and Szekely were narrowly re-elected, were filed by New York Times Unit Chair Grant Glickson, who led the opposing slate as its presidential candidate, and Jeff Blyskal, a Guild member at Consumer Reports who says he is unaffiliated with either campaign.
In rejecting the challenges, five by Blyskal and 16 by Glickson, an elections committee report affirmed the election of 23 of 24 members of the O’Meara-Szekely slate, known “Proven Guild Leaders.” Mindy Matthews, grievance chair at The Times, was the only member of the opposing slate, known as “Members First,” to win a seat on the local’s new Executive Committee, which will begin its three-year term on Jan. 2. Matthews’ election was also affirmed.
The elections committee, consisting of five members from four units who are unaffiliated with either campaign and were appointed by the Executive Committee in October, had overseen the process since nominations were made on Oct. 15 and issued several rulings along the way that barred candidates from campaigning on employer premises or using employer emails.
As a basis for rejecting the Glickson and Blyskal challenges, the committee, which was advised by Guild outside counsel Hanan Kolko, cited the federal Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), court cases, the constitution of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the Guild’s parent union, and the rules governing the election that were approved by the local’s Representative Assembly (RA) in June.
A threshold issue that needed to be resolved by the committee was whether it or the RA was the proper forum for resolving election disputes at the first stage. Glickson had asserted that his challenges should be decided by RA, as called for in the local’s bylaws. But the committee noted that the CWA constitution provides that “the Election Committee shall rule” on election challenges and that all CWA locals must “abide by the constitution.”
“Under these circumstances, the committee believes that the CWA constitution takes precedence over inconsistent provisions in the Guild’s bylaws,” it said in its 67-page report.
Glickson’s challenges were wide-ranging, including claims that he was not given members’ workplace email addresses, was barred from campaigning on employer facilities, that insufficient notice was issued for nominations, the address list used for the ballot mailing was not up to date, O’Meara and Szekely used Guild business as an excuse for campaigning on employer premises, that O’Meara issued a Times shop paper and Szekely wrote a column to Reuters members to “enhance their standing amongst members” and that O’Meara “rushed to settle” a contract with Standard & Poor’s during the balloting period, while the elections committee barred Glickson from access to the S&P contract ratification meeting.
Some of Glickson’s challenges overlapped with Blyskal’s, including claims that the numbering of the ballots compromised the “secret ballot” requirement, and that the elections committee effectively blocked Blyskal from conducting a so-called digital debate using the Consumer Reports email system.
Blyskal had suggested the debate, installed himself as moderator and proposed sending each candidate five emails to which they could respond and in a way that all Consumer Reports Guild members could see. O’Meara had suggested a live debate in the company’s cafeteria. The committee advised Consumer Reports management that allowing its facilities to be used for a union election would risk the government requiring the Guild to rerun the election. Company management eventually nixed the debate, also citing the advice of its own legal counsel.
Blyskal’s challenges also included a claim that the balloting period was not long enough, that secrecy was compromised because voters were required to write their names on an outer envelope, which could leave an imprint on the plain white envelope inside that held the ballot and that both candidates appear to have accepted things of value from Consumer Reports, including Glickson, who campaigned in the company’s cafeteria before the committee barred candidates from doing so.
The committee rejected all of the challenges and issued its final certification of the election. Members still have a right to challenge the election, first at the CWA and later, if necessary, with the Labor Department.
Pursuant to Article XV Section 4(b) of the CWA Constitution, the Committee hereby issues its final certification of results of the 2013 Guild election. The following candidates were elected:
President – Bill O’Meara
Secretary Treasurer – Peter Szekely
Local Chairperson – Karen Rohan
1st Vice President – Randye Gilliam
2nd Vice President – Pedro Da Costa
3rd Vice President – Kathy Wilmore
RA Chair – Anna Pierdiluca
RA Vice Chair – Oscar Hernandez
Executive Board members (16)
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