With the deadline fast approaching for workers to vote in the first-ever direct election for United Auto Workers (UAW) union national officers, there is growing anger among many UAW members across the US that they have still not received ballots yet. The court-appointed monitor overseeing the UAW elections has stated that ballots should be mailed back by Friday, November 18 in order to be received by the final deadline of November 28.
Workers have reported problems when attempting to follow the monitor’s procedure to request missing ballots. The monitor’s online form to request replacement ballots was inaccessible for a period of time on Friday, workers told the World Socialist Web Site, before the official deadline to request a ballot had passed. Workers also reported calling the monitor’s telephone hotline to request ballots, but that the phone continued to ring without anyone answering.
Given the difficulties with even getting a ballot, rank-and-file workers are increasingly calling into question the fairness of the elections.
On Friday, Will Lehman, a rank-and-file worker at Mack Trucks and socialist running for UAW president, wrote a letter to the monitor demanding a 30-day extension to all deadlines related to the election, to help ensure workers are not denied the right to vote. Lehman forwarded the complaints of many workers who have not yet received ballots due to problems in the monitor’s handling of the election.
Since he sent his letter Friday, Lehman said he had continued to receive complaints from workers who had not yet received ballots and had struggled to get a response from the monitor, including the following:
- “I am a worker at Ford Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville, KY and a member of UAW Local 862. I was hired Jan. 18, 2022 and converted to full time Jan. 31, 2022. I am trying to vote and haven’t received a ballot. I’ve called the monitor number, emailed my union financial secretary to verify my info, and requested a ballot online starting back on October 24th. I’ve tried multiple times. Still no ballot. I’m afraid I’m not the only one. Seems to me that the only ones receiving ballots are the ones that are voting for a certain candidate. What can I do to make sure I get to vote? This is beyond corrupt and I see now that it trickles down from the top all the way to the local level. Please help!”
- “I am an electrician at the GM Arlington plant, Local 276. I and most of my fellow skilled tradesmen have not received a ballot. I called the number to request a ballot on October 28, and was told it would be 7-10 days. As of today 11-12-22, I still do not have a ballot. On Monday 11-7-22, as I was entering the plant, my shop chairman was handing out Curry literature at the gate. I told him about the problem with the ballots, and he said that was happening a lot but didn’t seem too interested. I find this really strange since the union has my address correct, because I receive the issues of Solidarity magazine, including the latest issue with the candidates. One-man one-vote is not really true if we don’t get a ballot.”
- “A lot of TPTs [temporary part-time workers] haven’t gotten ballots, and the UAW is not telling them they can vote and they are not telling retirees they can vote,” a Local 51 worker in Detroit said. “They are violating everyone’s rights. They should extend the voting. They are just rigging it. Now we are getting harassed by management for using our phones. They have people being put on notice, threatened. The union has got them making a big issue out of it since the election started and they had everyone started talking about who they were going to vote for. Once the union officials started figuring out workers weren’t going to vote for the people they support, they got mad. They don’t understand why people are mad at them. They are not doing their job.”
- “The whole thing is a joke - I receive tons of emails from all sorts of candidates. Multiple people in our CCA have not ever even received any emails and are asking who are these candidates…sadly I don’t feel this election is very well organized & thousands in the membership are uneducated on who the candidates actually are or represent. Thank you for highlighting some of the quirks in this election.”
- A worker from Local 7 in Detroit said: “The time frame to vote is narrowly coming to an end. I have not received my ballot, and over a week ago I contacted the monitor. Thousands of people haven’t gotten a ballot and we vote this week. I feel more time is needed to give workers every opportunity to vote.”
- “I did not receive a ballot for the UAW election,” a retired GM Flint worker said, “however I did receive a ballot when workers could vote on one-member, one vote. Until a few years ago, I used to receive Solidarity Magazine. I tried several times to reach the UAW to get a ballot, but nothing. I have not received a ballot along with many other workers.
“It seems that the monitor represents the UAW officials, not the rank and file. I agree the ballot deadline must be extended. I want my ballot, but by the time I get it, it will be too late, unless the deadline is extended. I believe I did not get a ballot because I’ve been targeted by the UAW bureaucrats because I have not stopped fighting them for 22 years regarding grievances relating to sexual harassment. When Will wins the election, and I’m praying that he does, I want him to be aware of the many documents of my case of mishandled sexual harassment. I am not the only one who has been wronged by the UAW bureaucrats. We all have to be included, heard, and made whole.”
Lehman told the WSWS that on Friday night at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time, less than three hours before the deadline to request replacement ballots expired, the monitor replied to his letter:
“If you are aware of any eligible member who has not yet received a ballot, we would ask that you inform them to request one online at Ballot Request Merriman River Independent Monitor of the UAW (uawvote.com) or by emailing the Monitor’s Hotline directly at UAWMonitor-Election@jenner.com by midnight tonight. If you are aware of members with other unaddressed concerns, we would ask that you request that they also contact the Monitor’s Hotline directly so that we can remedy any issues as soon as possible.”
Lehman replied on Saturday:
“My campaign has been doing that already for weeks, but it isn’t working, as I’ve been trying to tell you without response. More and more workers are complaining to my campaign that the link and phone number didn’t work before the deadline expired, that they’ve requested ballots many times but still haven’t received one. This is a massive deprivation of workers’ right to vote!
“I hope your response to my many emails demanding action is ‘soon’ as you promise, and I hope you grant the requests I made, because nothing short of that is going to address the ongoing issues. But by Monday, already a week will have gone by since my November 9 email, and now the deadline to request ballots has passed. Last night, workers reported to me that the website was down even before the deadline, and when they called before 8 p.m., nobody answered. More and more workers are writing to my campaign to ask that we do something to help them because the Monitor isn’t. Every day that passes is a day that more workers’ rights are violated.”
On Friday, Lehman also contacted the campaigns of two other candidates for UAW president, Brian Keller and Shawn Fain, to see if they would support his call for a 30-day extension of voting deadlines. Neither campaign has responded to his request to date, Lehman said.
Lehman encouraged workers who have yet to receive a ballot or have encountered other problems with the voting process to email his campaign at WillforUAWPresident@gmail.com.
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