Thursday, January 8, 2015

ADDA Kicks Out AFSCME - Big Labor Group "Reeling" In Defeat

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys delivered a crushing and resounding blow to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), when ADDA members voted 143 to 65, to oust the under-performing, expensive and corruption-tainted big labor group. AFSCME had promised much, but delivered little in return for the $1M in members dues that had been paid over the past three years.

Participation in ADDA votes has traditionally been low, but when independent CPA firm Haynie & Co announced that 208 ballots had been received in the disaffiliation election, an audible gasp filled the meeting room at AFSCME headquarters.

Representatives from CPA firm Haynie & Co. announced that 208 ballots had been received
before the ballots were verified and counted
 Of the 396 ADDA members, 53.25% had voted, a participation level previously unheard of. It was a sign that members were motivated, and that was bad news for AFSCME who, like most unions, thrive only when member participation is low.

When the ballots were counted, the overwhelming majority vote to disaffiliate from AFSCME (almost 70%) was not only unimpeachable, but a crushing blow to embattled AFSCME Executive Director Cheryl Parisi, who faces a humiliating career setback as a result of loosing her grip over the ADDA. It is a rainy day in hell when a big labor union is trounced to defeat, and ADDA President Marc Debbaudt deserves the credit for bravely leading the charge against "the nation’s largest and fastest growing public services employees union with more than 1.6 million working and retired members."

The counting of the ballots was not without some drama. ADDA Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath, who supported remaining under the heel of AFSCME, tried to halt the count by insisting that signatures on envelopes containing the ballots be verified before the ballots could be counted. ADDA Vice President Michele Hanisee promptly dismissed McGrath's challenge and ordered the count continue upon the assurance that it was the ballots that were to verified, not the envelopes.

McGrath, however, was not satisfied and insisted that the vote was not "secret." Indeed, as Haynie & Co conducted the vote, McGrath was conducting his own count, using a list of ballot numbers and recording which ballot numbers had voted to "withdraw" (i.e. disaffiliate from AFSCME) or "stay" with AFSCME. McGrath was somehow able to determine members' identities by the ballot numbers, and is currently the only ADDA Board Member who has a list of members' names, and how they voted. ADDA President Marc Debbaudt commented that if the vote was not "secret," it was McGrath who had violated the secrecy requirement, not the CPA firm.

It is unknown whether McGrath will be required to surrender the list as the ADDA was unable to conduct any further proceedings inside AFSCME headquarters. The ADDA Board were due to discuss how to handle the McGrath situation in an Executive Session where the vote was also to be ratified. However, AFSCME promptly expelled the ADDA Board from AFSCME premises; a move that was not only childish, but futile, as it is understood that the Board convened at a local restaurant to conduct their remaining business.

The ADDA's decision to dump AFSCME is unlikely to face any legal challenge. The magnitude of the margin of victory and the high level of voter participation dispels any suggestion that the "non secrecy" of the vote deterred full participation - an argument often cynically used to by union activists to undermine and obfuscate what should be a democratic process.

Some might argue that the employment of an independent firm of CPAs actually encouraged voter participation, because many DDAs might  have been deterred from voting their conscience if AFSCME had been allowed to conduct the ballot count. Other unions keen to rid themselves of affiliation from AFSCME, will likely follow the ADDA's lead in using independent CPAs to conduct their elections.

If AFSCME was unsurprisingly less that gracious in defeat, McGrath had the decency to issue an email message acknowledging defeat.

As a result of the vote to dump AFSCME, a new era dawns on the ADDA. The specter of disgraced former ADDA Presidents Steve Ipsen and Hyatt Seligman self-interested leadership would seem to be well and truly exorcised, and the enforced, unwelcome and unholy alliance with anti-public safety big labor groups is thankfully over.



Anonymous said...

Interesting, Mr. Secrecy McGrath is OK with spying on who voted, but he has erased all information from his pro-AFSCME website. There were a bunch of DDAs who had supported McGrath/AFSCME there.

How do you spell Hypocrite?

Anonymous said...

The fact that 53.25% of eligible voters voted is pathetic. That its more than the usual number simply means that the ability of the ADDA board to engage its members in the past is even more dismal. 143 DDA's made this important decision, out of 900+. Whether it was the correct decision or not, it was no mandate. I's time for the board to do something to get the membership level higher and the membership engaged. To each board member I ask, what is your plan?

Michele Hanisee said...

-->. 7:24 Anonymous. My plan is to make board member emails publicly available at every office so members can directly contact their board (done). Engage in member outreach by actually asking members what they want (done). And providing tangible benefits to members such as getting their personal address information off the internet at no charge to the members (should be operational by February) and getting DDAs into courthouses without security screening (in progress).. The flip side is - the members need to participate, not be apathetic. The board meeting minutes are posted on the website, the meetings are open to members, and the vote is available to every voting member. Short of holding our meetings at Yxta and serving booze, I don't know what else to do. Any suggestions? Because I have been begging members to tell me what they want.
ADDA Vice President, Michele Hanisee

Anonymous said...

Berger, you should run for the board when McGrath quits (or gets ejected). I'm sure Debbaudt will be happy to have you after the two-month blow job you've given him....

Anonymous said...

7:24pm. The fact is that more DDAs participated in this election, than any other in the history of the ADDA. That's because for the first time in years, there wasn't some f'd up self-serving a*hole "leader" who had hijacked the ADDA to advance their personal agendas. Too bad, too sad that AFSCME and Parisi got ripped a new one.

Lucy said...

Why were only 396 DDA members eligible to vote when the ADDA boasts 1000 members are in the bargaining unit?

Anonymous said...

There's a story that circulated a few yew years ago when an undersea oil well operated by British Petroleum blew out and began flooding the Gulf of Mexico with toxic goo. The head of BP held a press conference where he lamented about critics. Declaring that he had met with political leaders, consulted with experts, and reviewed reams of material. He just didn't know what else he could could do. One old timer in the back of the room piped up and said "you could plug the damn hole!"

One of the points made by the pro AFSCME side that resonated with many was that the tone of ADDA board meetings had seriously declined. Many of us know people who have quit the board in disgust. And frankly, when you see the name calling that beaks out ("ASSME"? ) from pro -Debauddt supporters, it's hard to feel that board meetings will be conducted with any measure of civility.

The level of acrimony and spite in these recent disagreements isn't going to improve participation by anyone.

If Mr. or Ms. DDA thinks that he or she is going to be called a traitor or a wimp for disagreeing with someone, why go? Why continue to support a union?

Anonymous said...

This election was (by far) not a secret election.

In past ADDA elections (indeed in any Homeowners Association election) a marked ballot is required to be placed in an "inner envelope," an envelope that has absolutely no markings that could identify the the voter. Then that "inner envelope" is placed in an "outer envelope." That envelope is clearly marked and signed so that counters can identify that an eligible voter submitted it.

The eligible voters are verified from the outer envelope, the inner envelopes are then removed and separated from verified envelopes, then the inner envelopes are opened and counted.

The logic is that the secrecy of the identity of the voter is protected from ANYONE, while the validity of the vote by only eligible voters is maintained.

Here, members were FORCED TO SIGN THE INNER ENVELOPE. Meaning the counter could see the individuals name, open the envelope, and see how that person voted (envelope in one hand, ballot tin the other).

No secrecy.

Anonymous said...

11:16am Who gives a crap about "the counter seeing the individuals name" when the counter is an independent CPA with no axe to grind. I'm sure you would have preferred to have an AFSCME hack do the count, so face the facts here - the election was fairly conducted and the voters have spoken. There's no question about the outcome, it's not even close.

Anonymous said...

Lucy, the fact that only 396 DDAs were able to vote is a legacy of the Steve Ipsen era. He fixed it so DDAs have to pay an extra $10 a month to be able to vote. That way he could be sure that most DDAs will not vote. Now that Debbaudt has won and the ADDA will get 100% of the monthly dues, there's no real reason for this extra $10, all DDAs should be able to vote.

Anonymous said...

@10:43am. Get a life. If you cannot handle the pace of heated debate, maybe you're in the wrong profession. Go whine to ASSME, maybe they can find you a job cleaning toilets or taking out trash. And please don't complain about a lack of civility, the fact is there is nothing very civil about having $1M in union dues taken by a bunch of assholes who didn't lift a finger for the ADDA. Now go sit on your fainting sofa and get some smelling salts to revive yourself. Dick.

Anonymous said...

9:21AM, I agree. DDAs voted BECAUSE they knew the votes would not be touched by AFSCME or the ADDA.

Anonymous said...

Hah! Rock on 12:37pm, keep blasting!

Well Michelle, your work is cut out for you. By the time these guys finish you'll be lucky if anyone shows up, regardless of the restaurant or free food (how'd that Taix thing work out?). Just remember, each tantrum filled argument increases the number of people who feel fed up with the union. Pretty soon, someone is going to figure out how to circulate a decertification petition. . . and these guys are cultivating signers.

Anonymous said...

Actually this is not the highest turn out in ADDA history that distinction belongs to the Agency Shop campaign of 2011. 506 DDA's voted to approve agency shop.

It is sad that the Supreme Court is going to find agency shop unconstitutional before long. Much of the money being received by the ADDA is going to disapear.

nohumansinvolved said...

I promised to place dues reduction on the next agenda for a Board vote and if it fails I promise to renew it when my term is up. I will keep that promise, but I am only one vote.

The goal now, the principle and primary goal now that we are disaffiliated is to prepare for contract negotiations. We enter into these negotiations in great and demonstrable strength if everyone is a member and united to improve salary and working conditions. The ADDA is the bargaining voice of the members, and the tip of the spear, but if the spear is short, unbalanced or broken there's no force behind the tip. We need everyone to become members to send the message that we are strong.

There is no longer an excuse not to join. We are not a "large labor union." We do not have an anti-law enforcement agenda. We are a bargaining unit of professional prosecutors, the largest independent prosecutorial bargaining unit in the world. If we join together we can be a powerful force that will help to improve all of our lives together. We are the most prestigious attorneys and the most compelling orators in this County. We can win this together but only if everyone participates and supports the effort.

Frankly, it will be difficult to fault the ADDA for failure and difficult for non-members to criticize the ADDA if they fail at bargaining if they don't join, when the very failure to join is itself what sent the message that the ADDA is weak and the prosecutors are divided.

Give us a chance. Make us strong. Increase the volume and persuasiveness of our voice by joining, and then if united we fail we can end the experiment and return to relying on the generosity of the County for all future increases and working condition improvements. Please join so you can tell me, I told you so. Please help me succeed on your behalf to improve things for you. You can blame me if I fail, but only if you backed my effort and did not undermine it with apathy and a refusal to join. The goal is to improve things for you. Why would you not help your Board accomplish just that?

I've fulfilled my campaign promise to you. I worked hard to disaffiliate. Now I'm asking you to help me fulfill a promise you owe it to yourself and your families to make right now. Help me succeed in negotiations on your behalf by helping me to make the bargaining voice as strong as possible on your behalf. There is now no longer any reason not to join, and every selfish reason and self-interest to join.

Please join now.

Marc Debbaudt
ADDA President

Anonymous said...

I agree with you - there is no reason why all DDAs should not be members of the ADDA. But what I do not understand is why the ADDA needs an extra $10/month to be a full member? Now that the ADDA is getting 100% of the dues income, there really does not seem to be any justification for charging an extra fee for voting rights. Please can you abolish the voting surcharge and let everyone pay the same amount for the same rights.

Anonymous said...

11:16AM We won, you lost. Get over it.

Marc Debbaudt said...

The only reason I can see why the Board may not want to reduce dues at this point is to create a substantial and precautionary war chest and reserve that can be used to access the best expertise and support the causes which advance the interests of DDAs and provide insurance for unforeseen events. I think it will be hard to justify failure to reduce dues as that chest grows now that we disaffiliated, and that reduction is inevitable. As to the $10 surcharge, I believe the Hudson audit determines the operating costs of the bargaining unit, and that is the minimal dues everyone pays, but for the extras, like contributing to the Board of Supervisor candidates and judge candidates and supporting legislation, that is not considered an operating expense, but must be contributed voluntarily above the minimal operating costs, and the reward for that voluntary contribution is voting privileges, etcetera.. So, to make all dues the same would eliminate the ADDA from investing in the political capital that makes bargaining units influential.

Marc Debbaudt
ADDA President

Anonymous said...

5:34pm - the 2011 vote was for all DDAs, not a vote for ADDA members. This vote stands as the highest ever in recent ADDA history, both in raw numbers and percentage.

The amazing thing was that AFSCME spent more money on fighting disaffiliation than they ever spent on doing anything for DDAs in the past 3 years. AFSCME paid for the forged mailer and probably paid for McGrath's website. They got 65 votes, and will have a hard time explaining to DC why they f'd up so badly.

Anonymous said...

Marc, help me out, please. Why do I have to come here to get updates. The ADDA website is rarely updated. It is mid-January and the last "President's Update" was in November. And the "Latest News" is that there will be an important meeting on Dec 15. Keep the dues the same and update the frigging website more often than once every 60 days. We are on the path to de-certify because there is no official, credible information from the union. Take some responsibility.

Anonymous said...

8:09 repeat after me

"Blame ASSME"
"Blame ASSME"
"Blame ASSME"

I bet it hasn't been updated because ASSME broke the promise that they made to bend over backwards and kiss king debbaudt's ass as soon as he defeated them and they broke the promise to put up the new ADDA web site that would sufficiently pay homage to the all powerful new ADDA.

Or maybe it's because ASSME is so hateful and petty that they refused for weeks to meet with the ADDA transition team to work out how to transfer control of the various systems from ASSME to ADDA.

Or maybe debaudt is just a dumb ass who didn't think ahead and have in place the people, systems and information needed to take over and properly run the union's infrastructure once he gained control.

Me. I'm going with number one and number two. ASSME is evil and debaudt promised me everything was in place for him to run everything. I trust debaudt.

Marc Debbaudt said...

The day after the ballot count I sent an email update to our AFSCME Business representative to disseminate to the membership and to post on our website. This is the response I received: "Thanks for your email. I will be out of the office until Monday, February 2. Effectively immediately, the ADDA is no longer an AFSCME affiliate. Accordingly, all ADDA issues should be directed to President Marc Debbaudt." In other words there was no grace period and they severed all services. I learned which I didn't know at the time, that AFSCME even billed us for emailing. Everything was extra. As a result, I had our secretary, Juliana Konze, immediately work on replacing and setting up our email communications systems, and that is now done, and she is now turning her attention to the website. My past updates were regularly posted on the websites and as soon as she can she will be updating that. Sorry for the delay. I try to communicate as much as I can and this blog is obviously a forum that is read by some DDAs so I have not hesitated to use it. Last night Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath and Director Stuart Lytton both resigned from the Board.
Marc Debbaudt
President ADDA

Anonymous said...

Resignations are step in right direction. Good luck Marc & ADDA.

Anonymous said...

What is the point of joining the ADDA? Whether it is Marc, Steve, Hyatt, or anyone else. It is always the same message, "Give us a chance." "Strength in Numbers" "The newly elected Board needs your support." The fact is that for the last 10-15 years the same story has be played over and over. What happened to the safety retirement? What happened with the promises with AFSME? Why did Marc only learn recently that AFSME bills for emails? Bottom line is that we as busy DDAs, parents, spouses, etc... Don't have time to really focus on the HUGE job of organizing a concert effort to gain beneficial compensation, benefits, etc. Moreover, what specific mechanism (i.e. strike, job slowdown, etc..) does the ADDA have to force management to change? Many DAs feel that we are paid just fine, and everything is "okay". The reality is that we will always get the same "deal" as all the other unrepresented work groups; just like it has been for years. Management (Garcetti, Cooley, Lacey) will always be the same, unless the workforce stands up and really puts a "boot" up their ....