April 7, 2018 – Executive Council Meeting Minutes

Meeting called to order by President Struckman at 202 pm, following General Membership meeting earlier that day.

Present: President Robert Struckman, Vice President Elise Bryant (phone), Treasurer Tim Fitzgerald, Council members Mark Gruenberg, Mark Pattison, Steve Cook, Celeste Drake, Sheila Lindsay, Jazmin Gargoum, Matt Losak, Justin Moyer (phone),  Mikhail Romanov (phone), Jeremy Sprinkle (phone), Seth Dietz (phone), Executive Director Cet Parks, Local Reps Rick Ehrmann, Paul Reilly.

Excused absence: Secretary David DeJesus (ill).

Also present: Evan Yeats (acting chair, but not council member, UFCW, after Parks phone call midway through meeting).

Financial reports: Handled in general membership meeting.

Audit: Pattison moves, Losak seconds approval of annual audit (regular). PASSED VOICE VOTE. 

NEW BUSINESS

FLA AFL-CIO: Pattison moves, Drake seconds proposal to join FLA AFL-CIO, per request of new unit there, under terms and conditions outlined in their proposal, and with the request to submit a report on activities. Cost 80 cents/member/month X 15 members = $144/ year. PASSED VOICE VOTE. 

NO VA. ANNUAL TRIBUTE: Losak moves, Gargoum seconds to buy two =tickets to Northern Virginia annual tribute to labor. Fitzgerald notes money for purchase was not budgeted. Struckman points out “their weekly e-mails are really useful.” PASSED VOICE VOTE.

NC AFLCIO: Sprinkle moves, Losak seconds contributing $100 to NC AFLCIO Victory Fund, states money is not for contributions to candidates, but for member education and printing of a flyer. “This would not be actively engaged in electoral politics.”  Parks notes last year, council authorized him to write a letter announcing local’s opposition to proposed Virginia constitutional amendment enshrining right-to-work in state’s basic charter. (The amendment lost).

“We should stay away from candidates and endorsements, but there’s room for us to work on larger issues, such as health care, right to work and other policies,” Deitz said. SPRINKLE WITHDRAWS HIS MOTION, but will resubmit it if there is a proposed NC constitutional amendment on right to work.

Discussion continued. Lindsay notes the question of politics on issues has arisen at the TNG

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Executive Board meetings and could come up at the next sector conference (convention).

Drake, after other references to local’s “Green Zone” policy on political stands, said issue also

arose because “some people want to do more” to support Black Lives Matter. “We need to talk about a COPE fund, while keeping a distinction with how our dues are used.” Ehrmann notes the Green Zone has “an exception dealing with the matters of labor rights and human rights.”

Struckman reports CWA Secretary-=Treasurer Sara Steffens, a former reporter, “is working on a way to have individual donations to a COPE fund,” to be used “for advocating for rules and laws important to our membership. Look for that in the weeks or months ahead.”

Romanov (by  phone) submits motion regarding UFCW unit election: Suspend the election, reopen the nomination process with every unit member being allowed to participate and to give all members the right to observe ballot counting.

Romanov gives background by phone: Explains he was terminated on Jan. 12 and WBNG has formally filed a grievance challenging termination as being in retaliation for his union activities.

Thus he remains as a WBNG member and UFCW unit chair. Current officers, including acting chair, reaffirmed his membership and no move was made to oust him. Unit later approved the election and the eligibility list and circulated materials via the UFCW’s internal e-mail system (ufcw.org). Since Romanov had been terminated and escorted out of the building, he was also dropped from the e-mail list.

Romanov stated the next thing he knew of the election was when he received his ballot, with the office of unit chair listed with one name, uncontested. Ballots had been mailed from WBNG main office, to be counted April 10. Romanov was not notified of the nominations meeting and did not receive other election-related e-mails. He submitted a request to observe the ballot tally, but was denied. He stated he provided substitute contact information, his personal e-mail.

(Midway through the discussion, Gruenberg, acting as secretary, points out nobody seconded Romanov’s motion. He then does so, allowing the discussion to continue).

“Management wants me out. I raised these issues to the unit to seek a resolution,” Romanov  said. “My speculation is this was intentional – and it was not remedied. In the best light, this was an oversight, but it would be negligent of the EC to overlook this issue. They (unit officers) offered me no remedies whatsoever. I’m eligible, but not allowed to participate.” He also stated had he been notified of the nominations meeting, he would have offered a nomination for unit chair.

Drake states UFCW members “may have been unaware they’re allowed to nominate someone who was fired,” where WBNG is contesting the firing. Lindsay states the EC needs to hear from

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UFCW unit’s officers, which leads Parks to call Evan Yeats and ask him to call in.

Motion made to call the question, passed by more than 2/3rds show of hands, but Struckman states question will not be called until those who previously indicated a wish to speak, either in the room or by phone, had a chance to do so.

Gargoum reminds council this is not the first time e-mails concerning an election failed to reach voters. The same thing happened before the first WBNG-wide election of officers last year. Romanov replies the UFCW unit officers OKd the eligibility list for this election, including him.

Drake suggests a compromise: “Have the local officers, plus the unit officers, plus Cet (Parks) and Mikhail get together to agree on something everybody can live with.” “Maybe we can short-circuit a potential overturn?” of a unit election, such as occurred previously in her unit.

Yeats joins the discussion, by phone, and volunteers to answer questions. “It was a very long election process, in part because of the split in the unit,” he said. Also states “there might be a room available for an offsite (ballot) count.” Yeats also said he “received objections to Mikhail’s participation, which I rejected.” He opposes reopening the nominations process, because it had already been extended.

Yeats continues that the failure of nomination and election-related e-mails to reach Romanov was “an oversight” due to the unit’s use of the ufcw.org list. UFCW unit allows members to nominate themselves, with those nominated notified by e-mail and given a deadline for reply, also by e-mail. “We accepted every name put forward,” he stated.

Drake restates her compromise proposal and puts it in the form of a friendly amendment. Yeats says “I’m happy to get together.” Romanov replies “I would appreciate such a meeting, but I’m seeking to participate, including in the nominations phase. There’s a window to make sure we do this right. I do not accept the friendly amendment.

Yeats then says “I would reject rerunning this from scratch, but if we do so, it would have to be administered by the local. He said that was a second friendly amendment, but it failed for lack of a second.

Vote then occurred on passage of Romanov’s original motion:

YEA: Council members Losak, Cook, Romanov, Dietz, Moyer, Sprinkle, Vice President Bryant.

NAY: Treasurer Fitzgerald, Council members Pattison, Lindsay.

ABSTAIN:  Council members Drake, Gargoum, Gruenberg.

Yeats was not permitted to vote as unit chair Romanov already did so, as UFCW’s represent

tative. Yeats asks council to inform the unit of its decision, adding “I disagree with this.”

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FRONT PAGE AWARDS: Gruenberg, chair of FPA committee, announces entry deadline for this year’s competition will be Memorial Day. Ceremony will also include last year’s awards, delayed due to WBNG election rerun. Nominations have already been submitted for 2017 Guild Service Awards, and 2016 GS award winners have been selected and will be included in ceremony too. Gruenberg then says that after 12 years, “it’s time for a fresh set of eyes,” so this will be the last ceremony he runs.

BY-LAWS: Fitzgerald makes the point the council named him chair of the By-Laws Committee, contrary to an e-mail President Struckman circulated. Says committee will meet either April 18 or 26, at pleasure/consensus of those who wish to serve.

FLORIDA AFL-CIO CONTRACT: Gruenberg moves, Pattison seconds approval of contract covering FLA AFL-CIO staff unit (15 people). 3% raise. PASSED VOICE VOTE.

AFL-CIO BARGAINING COMMITTEE: Pattison moves, Lindsay seconds approval of AFL-CIO bargaining committee:  Pablo DeLeon, Celeste Drake, Marcus Trammell, Isaac Gobern, Tiffany Heath and Cet Parks. PASSED VOICE VOTE

MEMBERSHIP REPORT: Lindsay moves, Drake seconds approval of Jan. 30-March 28 membership report. PASSED VOICE VOTE.

MINUTES: Lindsay moves, Drake seconds approval of minutes of Jan. 30, 2018 Executive Council meeting. PASSED VOICE VOTE.

MINUTES: Lindsay moves, Drake seconds approval of minutes of Feb. 10, 2018 Executive Council meeting. PASSED VOICE VOTE.

NEXT EC MEETING: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at DC office, 7 pm.

Yeats asks a procedural question by phone whether the ballots of the UFCW unit election can be impounded until the controversy is resolved, or until the July General Membership meeting.

Question went unanswered.

Losak moves, Gruenberg seconds motion to adjourn. PASSED VOICE VOTE.

MEETING ADJOURNED 345 PM

In Solidarity,

Mark Gruenberg

Acting as Secretary, WBNG Local 32035