UAW presidential candidate Will Lehman calls for extension of vote deadline as workers report not receiving ballots

The following letter was sent by UAW presidential candidate Will Lehman to the court-appointed Monitor overseeing the first-ever direct elections for the UAW leadership. For more information on Lehman’s campaign, visit WillforUAWPresident.org.

Dear Mr. Barofsky:

I write to request an immediate 30-day delay in the deadline for voting. Nothing short of this will protect the right of workers to vote given the massive problems that appear to exist with workers receiving their ballots. In addition to the evidence I’ve sent you already in previous emails (which you haven’t adequately responded to), below are just a handful of the concerns I’ve received in the last 24 hours from workers about not receiving ballots. Workers who did not want to be named are fearful of retribution from the UAW bureaucracy.

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Worker 1. “I live in Sanilac County [Michigan] and I didn’t get my ballot. I called the Monitor a week ago, and they told me seven to ten days. I haven’t gotten it.”

Worker 2. “I didn’t get a ballot, so I requested one and we’ll see how it goes. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have it until yesterday, and I requested it yesterday.” [See video of the first two speaking here on Twitter.]

Worker 3. “I did not get a ballot, but I got some text from some guy, so I went on the link on October 29 to request a ballot and I still have not gotten one in the mail. So I don’t know.” [See video here.]

Worker 4. “I’ve gone to the website at least 3 times and called them at least 6 times. The first time I called the UAW Monitor, it was 2 days after the first day you were supposed to call, around October 29th. We were told to wait till after the 27th to call the Monitor. The first call, it just rang, nobody answered. I let it ring — 855-433-8683 — forever and gave up. Then I called back the same day, later in the day and it rang and rang and rang and rang and finally somebody picked up. I told them I was ringing earlier and no one picked up and they were befuddled. I told them I hadn’t received the ballot. They asked my name and local. They asked me if my address was some street number and the state being Michigan and I’ve never lived in Michigan, and I’ve never lived outside of Indiana.

“After that call, the very next day, maybe two days later, someone called me to verify that I called and verified my address again. Hours later, I got another phone call from someone else that didn’t know I got a call to verify my address. My address was verified two times in one day and both times they called me. The second time they called me, I told them somebody already called. I said, ‘But go ahead and verify again and send my ballot.’ She chuckled a bit. She said there are two people with the exact same name in two different states, yourself and this other person. After that she said it’s fixed and I should be getting my ballot soon. She didn’t say when, just soon. That’s been two weeks ago.

“After that, I went to the link online [uawvote.com]. I went to that link and clicked the button ‘Request a ballot’. It made me verify my name and address and my email and my phone number and it sent me a verification email to make sure that was my phone number that I used. I opened the email and confirmed. After that there was a different dot.com that was sent to me…this was the Facebook page. One of the 551 Facebook pages, somebody has posted a ‘If you hadn’t received your ballot….’ I clicked on it, it sent me to the one similar, but slightly different. I can’t remember exactly what it said. It made me verify my address.

“Today [November 9] I called them again. I called once. Nobody answered. It just rang. And it said they are open 8-8PM Eastern. And it was 6PM Central, 7PM Eastern when I called. They should have answered. They didn’t. And then I went to the website too. There is no voicemail for the system. They asked us to push 1 during the hours and 2 after hours.”

“Another UAW member from Local 551 said they still had not received a ballot despite making their initial request for one over two weeks ago and calling the hotline three times.

“If Will doesn’t win, something needs to be done. Will’s voters are being targeted.”

Worker 5. “As a UAW member, I was one of those people who was told in October that I would get a ballot in the mail, and didn’t receive one. If my memory serves me right, I then got an email recently with a link telling me how to request a ballot if I never received one. I followed the link and requested one. I received it on November 4. I made it a point to look at the cancellation stamp on the ballot envelope, it was dated October 29.

“My purpose of this email is just to help you keep tally on the problems that have appeared on what should have been a simple task. I’m not a mathematician but I would guess less than 2% of all ballots mailed out would have gotten lost by the postal service. If so many of the membership never received their ballots, that tells me that somebody never sent them out in the first place.”

Worker 6. “I’ve been a UAW member for 16+ years, I’ve never had the opportunity to vote. I haven’t received a ballot as of yet. I’m more than a little concerned.”

Worker 7, from ACT-UAW Local 7902. “I originally did not receive any ballot for the international election, which prompted me to write to my local ACT-UAW 7902 representative, Brian Allen, as to whether I am eligible to vote for the UAW international election. Despite answering other unrelated questions in the past, he refused to respond. I then received an email blast from the local representative Zoe Carey, apparently acknowledging that some members did not receive ballots. It stated, ‘We have heard from some members of our union that they have not received their paper ballots yet. Please check your mail for a ballot from the UAW.’ Eventually a paper ballot showed up in the mail, but was sent to my old address and forwarded to my new address resulting in a significant delay. Note that the ballot was sent to my old incorrect address even though I successfully received election-related literature (mostly postcards from UAW candidates) at the new, correct address.

“With respect to voting, my local previously held a strike vote and I did not ever receive a ballot for that. Upon bringing this to their attention, my local union representative, Brian Allen, responded, ‘unfortunately those with less than 40 contract hours this semester are not eligible to vote, as they are not technically eligible for the bargaining unit.’ I teach one class per semester—the same part-time situation that many or even most of the membership of ACT-UAW Local 7902 are in. I filled out a union membership card and never heard back one way or another. In the over 10 years that I have held my adjunct teaching position, I never heard of a 40-hour threshold, and also was never notified that I am not a member of the bargaining unit. To the contrary, I corresponded numerous times over the years with Local 7902 representatives concerning questions and grievances. I was never notified of my status with the local or the rights afforded to me by said status.”

Based on this and other evidence I request on behalf of the 90 percent of UAW members who have not yet cast a ballot that:

1. The deadline for requesting a new ballot be extended 30 days.

2. The deadline to postmark a ballot be extended 30 days.

3. Serious, effective measures finally be taken to notify the entire membership of its right to vote.

Will Lehman