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
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.