The following is a pointless exercise in being right.
On the 4th of April I attended the evening operators meeting for CAW 333. Pretty mundane stuff the whole way through, at least until Mark Anderson raised the topic that was on all of our minds.
The recall petition being brought against Gordon Krumm.
Mark raised some good points, and ended with a motion to disclose the identities of the five members who want Gordon out.
The curtains rise, and so begins the verbal theater. More sizzle.
The motion was initially not allowed because it was said that you cannot change the national constitution via a members motion, and after much discussion it was ruled that the national constitution did not apply. Those discussions eventually gravitated towards the fact that a motion to recall an executive is covered in our local bylaws, and as such it would be those bylaws that would need to be changed.
More discussion ensued, and after multiple readings of the pertinent passages in our bylaws it was concluded that the bylaws are silent regarding the anonymity of members initiating a recall petition. The bylaws would not need to be changed because they don’t say anything about anonymity.
Silent. That’s the word you want to remember.
More discussions. Can our bylaws be changed by a members motions, thus forcing the issue? Apparently yes, they can, but the sticking point was the fact that they would need to be voted on by the members attending both the morning and the evening meetings, and since this was presented during the evening operators meeting, the soonest it could be voted on would be at the next operators meeting.
In two months.
More talk. More verbal theater. Much more sizzle.
The meeting ended the only way it could. With the members upset, divided, and angry.
So let’s think about this for a moment. According to their statements during that meeting, and their actions leading up to it, the executive firmly believes that a motion to recall is meant to be filed anonymously, with the five required members never being obligated to identify themselves to the party the recall is directed towards.
They defended this stance with great vigour at the meeting, in spite of the fact the bylaws, as read aloud during the meeting, were absolutely silent on the issue.
According to the executive of our local, all that is required for any five members to initiate a recall petition of a duly elected officer would be five notarized signatures being presented to the President, along with the proper documentation, at which point the President’s only obligation is to inform the intended target that a recall motion has been filed.
Of course, if the person you want recalled is the President, anonymity is impossible, isn’t it?
… and that’s it. The debate is over.
If anonymity was ever something the drafters of our bylaws intended, a mechanism would have been put in place to allow anonymity in ALL circumstances, with no exceptions. As it stands there is no such mechanism, and therefore anonymity only exists at the whim of the President who receives the five notarized signatures. If he or she is the intended target of the recall, anonymity cannot exist at all, due to the fact the motion must be filed with the union … via the President … to make it valid.
I have to assume the drafters of the bylaws never intended one rule for the executive, and another contrary rule for the President, so this current anonymity is a bit odd. Remember, the portion of our bylaws relating to recall are silent regarding anonymity.
They do not even imply it.
At some point the executive was faced with the request to file a recall motion against Gordon Krumm. I have to assume discussions ensued, and anonymity for the five petitioning members was promised by our executive. According to our bylaws however, suggesting the five signators of the document should remain anonymous in this circumstance was, and remains, legally akin to suggesting they all wear yellow scarves in the shower. It is simply not something our bylaws address, and as such each suggestion is as absurd as the other.
Like I said, this is a pointless exercise in being right.
So where does that leave us?
Well, as a spectator, I now believe the executive wanted anonymity as much as the five signators.
Why? I don’t know. Time will eventually tell us, but until that time passes …
I can think of at least three reasons why a group who is asking for anonymity while undertaking a recall should be denied their request.
1. This will doubtlessly cause a major rift in the union, and unless the charges are grievous and compelling, the rift will do much more harm than simply allowing the officer to carry out their term unfettered. This is especially true now, when negotiations are supposed to be underway.
2. The fact that no recall motion has ever been successful in the history of the CAW (according to the executive member at the last meeting) suggests strongly this motion is being filed as a way to harass the member. Anyone around in the seventies will remember crank calls. They will also remember how they stopped when call display became the norm. The same rule applies in this case. Putting a name on the action makes the action something that must be given serious thought, not something that can be done just to make a hurtful or threatening point.
3. My point above. By granting anonymity in the face of absolute silence from our bylaws, the executive appears complicit in the recall. The executive cannot now say they are neutral, as their action to protect the identities of the five members is in itself support for their actions. As I said in the last meeting, by arbitrarily granting anonymity the executive loses the moral high ground. Regardless of the outcome of the recall, they are now tainted by the appearance of trying to remove an officer before that officer’s legitimate term is up.
Two meetings will occur on April 18th. They were called to deal with this issue directly. I would like to suggest that during those two meetings two things be discussed.
First, I would like to learn why Gordon Krumm is not being given the documents his office requires.
During all of this emotional debate, everyone seems to have forgotten that our executive has not yet given Gordon access to the receipts and documents his office requires him to obtain and review. Until that happens a far more sinister possibility exists in the minds and hearts of the members, one which any reasonably intelligent plutocrat could leverage to our terminal disadvantage during negotiations.
Secondly, I would like to know the thinking behind the anonymity.
That sinister possibility I alluded to above is being made very real in the minds of the members because of it. Regardless of the actual truth, the appearance of impropriety is just as bad as the real thing. In order to keep themselves from being unfairly painted with a very dirty brush, this decision will need to be very clearly explained … to the full satisfaction of the members.
Secrecy is working against the executive and against the good of this local, and if this local is to thrive in the years to come it will need to do so with the confidence of it’s members that can only be obtained through certainty.
Certainty that our leaders are working to our benefit exclusively.
Certainty that we the members will be able to participate without fear of anonymous reprisals.
Certainty that the dues we pay are going to our cause, and our cause alone.
Certainty that secrets can never provide.