Letter to MCEA Members

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Dear MCEA members,

            On 12/20/2021, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) sent a letter (linked here and copied below) to President Linda Day and the Board of Directors of MCEA, directing that your rights as members to be violated.

            You should know that a small group attempted to “steal” the 2021 election.

They “cherry-picked” a section of the membership to whom they sent information; the information was incomplete, not accurate and wasn’t approved by the Board.

            In fact, several members of the Board didn’t receive the information.

Many members contacted the Board about not having received the information.

            The Board, including Dawn Rowe and Raymond Crosby, voted to cancel the election.

A second date was chosen by the Board.

A complete packet was sent to each address in our database. However, by the closing date, only seven (7) active members responded.

            The Board has set a new date of January 29, 2022, 9:30am – 3:30pm.

            AFT has involved themselves in our internal elections.

However, we will not comply.

            Please join us on January 8, 2022 at noon for our Town Hall meeting to discuss the AFT. For more information, you may reach Mr. Michael Brown directly at mtbsr55@yahoo.com.

 

                                                                                    Sincerely,

                                                                                    Michael T. Brown Sr., Ph.D.

 

 

 

VIA ELECTRONIC and US MAIL DELIVERY
December 20, 2021

 

Maryland Classified Employees Association Executive Board
American Federation of Teachers, Local 1935
7127 Rutherford Road
Baltimore, MD 21244

 

Re: Request for Extension of Time for Convention and LMRDA Compliance
 

Dear President Day and Members of the Executive Board:

On December 13, 2021, the AFT received MCEA's request for an extension of
time to hold Its biennial convention. In response, AFT requested that MCEA certify
that it would comply with the AFT's December 8, 2021, Order regarding the election
and convention. On December 16, 2021, MCEA replied to the AFT request for a
certification of compliance. MCEA contested the Order on two grounds. As discussed
below, MCEA has failed to provide any compelling reasoning or support for its
opposition to the nominations and voting mandates in the Order. Otherwise, MCEA
agreed to comply in all other respects. Therefore, the request to extend the time for the
biennial convention is granted. MCEA must hold its biennial convention by January
29, 2022, consistent with the holdings below.

The December 8, 2021, Order (Order) directed MCEA to "hold its biennial
convention to permit the unopposed nominees to take office consistent with the bylaws
of the union. The option for remote participation in the Convention should be
reinstated.” In its December 16, 2021, Letter, MCEA opposed the Order and raised the
following arguments:

(a) “…Nominees’ names will be on the ballot along with any other
members who are nominated for the offices indicated in the
convention packet being mailed.”
(b) “…Bylaw Article IV Officers, §2 Nominations Procedure and Time
of Elections, states, ‘The election shall be either remotely or in
conjunction with the biennial convention.’ It is the opinion of the
board that this statement was intended to give the option of voting
remotely in the event the convention was held on Zoom, and since
that is not the case the election will be conducted by paper ballot at
the convention. It was neither the intention nor was it stated in the
bylaws that the meeting or the election should be hybrid mix of in
person and [i]nternet participation.”

Considering the record in this matter, MCEA’s opposition is without merit.
AFT made uncontested findings in its preliminary investigation that 1) the nominees
were unopposed after a properly conducted nomination process, and 2) that remote
voting was necessary for the participation of the membership. Failure to fully
implement the Order may cause MCEA to run afoul of the AFT constitution,1 and the
Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) as applied through the
AFT Constitution to AFT locals with public sector members.
MCEA rescheduled its October 9, 2021, biennial convention after it completed
the nomination process. There is no evidence in the record that individuals other than
the uncontested nominees qualified for the ballot.

Election procedures that fail to provide adequate safeguards to ensure a fair
election are subject to invalidation if the outcome is affected by such failure.  The
completed nominations process provided a reasonable opportunity for members to put
forward candidates for office. Moreover, it was conducted in accordance with the
procedures set out in the MCEA Bylaws. The record shows that the five nominees were
unopposed. There were no protests filed to challenge the nominations procedures and
the time to file challenges has now passed. Significantly, when AFT explained its
reasoning on the nominations process in its December 8th Order, MCEA did not dispute
those findings. Any inclusion of candidates now to create contested elections for seats
that were previously unopposed undermines the fundamental fairness of the election
procedures and is contrary to the MCEA Bylaws and AFT Constitution. Therefore, the
unopposed nominees must be allowed to take office at the biennial convention
consistent with the nomination process completed before MCEA rescheduled the
October 9, 2021, Convention.

Moreover, MCEA Bylaws protect the right of members to participate in the
business of the union consistent with the AFT Constitution and its incorporation of the
standards of the LMRDA.

The LMRDA provides that “Every member of a labor organization shall have
equal rights and privileges . . .to attend membership meetings and to participate in the
deliberations and voting upon the business of such meetings, subject to reasonable rules
and regulations in such organization's constitution and bylaws.” In some cases the
Department of Labor has used an 110-mile standard in deciding whether members were
far enough from polls to mandate the use of an absentee ballot.

AFT was contacted by MCEA members who work in Salisbury, MD and they
stated that the in-person voting requirement would disqualify them from participating
in the convention and therefore demanded that they have an option for virtual access.
Salisbury is approximately 119 miles from the proposed location of the convention at
the MCEA headquarters. MCEA’s decision to restrict participation in the biennial
convention to in-person only is not required by its bylaws and simply works to deprive
its members of their right to participate in the meeting. It is material that one of the
reasons that MCEA cancelled its December 10th Convention, which was intended to
be in person, was a failure to generate a quorum. Only 30 members are required to
satisfy the MCEA quorum requirement. It would be a gross injustice to the MCEA
membership to conduct a convention when only a small fraction of the membership
could participate.

Additionally, public health officials are warning of the potential resurgence of
COVID-19 and its new Omicron variant. The Omicron variant is novel and public
health officials are working to understand the risk associated with exposure. It is still a
time to take precautions like vaccination, masking, and limiting large indoor
gatherings. MCEA should safeguard the health of its members and provide access to
the democratic processes of the union. The hybrid option for the convention does both.
MCEA bylaws does not require an in-person convention and there are significant policy
justifications for a remote or hybrid convention under the current public health
predicament.

AFT, hereby, grants MCEA’s request to hold the biennial convention no later
than January 29, 2021. MCEA has not presented any support for its opposition to the
Order. As explained above, nothing contained in MCEA’s opposition compels AFT to
require anything less than full compliance with the Order. MCEA must permit the
unopposed nominees to take office consistent with the bylaws of the union and the
option for remote participation in the Convention should be reinstated. Failure by
MCEA to comply with this directive will require AFT to take the enforcement steps set
out in its December 8th Order.

In unity,

Fedrick C. Ingram
Secretary-Treasurer