Why does any of this matter?
A union is its membership. A union that is active, vibrant, and strong enough when necessary to take on the bosses, cannot thrive by democratic mechanisms alone. A gas pedal is useless without a foot to push it; the framework of union democracy is useless if its members don’t take ownership over the union and get directly involved in running it. The members have to give life to it.
Running for office or simply voting in elections is just one kind of involvement, but it’s an important one. Having offices with specific responsibilities is about more than making sure the lights stay on or processing grievances, it’s about laying a foundation of accountability. Working-class leadership is not about being in charge, it’s about serving your coworkers by putting them in charge of you. There are few higher callings.
We ask that you please seriously consider running for office. If elected, you won’t be on your own—you’ll have a lot of good people around to help you learn the ropes and get things done.
An important note on other (non-elected) positions
If you are interested in running for any of the offices up for election this year (below) but not totally sold on the idea yet, it could be helpful to speak with the worker currently occupying it. Any officer will be more than happy to explain what’s entailed.
Lastly, there are many positions or roles in the union outside of elected office. In fact, some of them are even more important, which is probably why most elected officers are also shop stewards. In our local, stewards are not typically elected; they volunteer and are trained and approved for duty. There are also roles that do not exist yet in any formal sense but really ought to exist as soon as possible: we don’t yet have an event organizer, web admin, communications director, childcare coordinator for meetings, or a whole host of other positions, but we probably should. If there’s a role you think needs filling (or existence), then don’t wait for annual elections—just speak up! One new position that was recently filled once someone volunteered to do it is Community Liaison, presently occupied by the indispensable Lisa McCrillis.
What are our elected positions?
Local 1674 holds annual elections for all seven offices comprising our Executive Board:
- President (currently Daniel Peyser)
- Vice President (currently Dana Wilkinson)
- Recording Secretary (currently Tess Mulder-Seel)
- Secretary Treasurer (currently Lenora Meyers-Nelson)
- Three executives-at-large (currently Amanda Calder, Sarah Floyd, and Sarah Ashley Simmons)
Our three trustees are also elected, but a trustee’s term lasts three years.
We aren’t sure where things stand with all our current officers, but we know something for sure about two of them:
Daniel would love to not be president anymore, and does not anticipate so much as accepting a nomination again after the next election. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run for president this year, however, because he would love to return to the simple joys of stewarding and only stewarding.
Lenora Meyers-Nelson is hoping to retire from the role of treasurer after this year, so if you are good at keeping a checkbook in order, please volunteer (nominate) yourself or another eligible coworker for the position.
Who is eligible to run for office?
Any union member who:
- Has been a member for at least one year
- Has been in good standing for the previous year of their membership
- Is not a retiree
For workers who have transferred into this local from another AFSCME local (e.g., Burlington municipal workers, Lamoille County Mental Health workers, etc.), your time and standing in the prior local does indeed count.
How do nominations work?
Nominations occur at meetings of the local. This year, 2019, we are not planning a special nominations meeting, so nominations may be made at our monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 6. At that meeting, you can nominate yourself as a candidate or somebody else can nominate you.
How does voting work?
You will receive at least 15 days’ advance notice prior to the election. Your vote is private, just like your vote in state or national elections. There is some flexibility in how voting is actually implemented, so long as all members have a reasonable opportunity to cast a ballot. Common job sites may be able to keep a ballot box in a break room; for workers who are mainly one-on-one with clients in the community, it is possible you will have a ballot box at your program’s central or administrative address. Electronic or online voting is not expressly prohibited by our constitution, but it’s not something we’ve yet worked toward implementing (though it’s probably not a bad idea).