TO: Local Presidents, Secretaries, Treasurers and AOs
FROM: The Sector Election and Referendum Committee
There has been widespread distribution of a statement concerning bad addresses that resulted in ballots being returned during the recent NewsGuild-CWA election. The Guild Sector Election and Referendum Committee (SERC) has decided to correct errors and omissions in that statement and to set the record straight on the diligent efforts made by the SERC, TNG and Guild locals to ensure correct addresses for purposes of balloting.
On February 11, well in advance of the distribution of ballots, the SERC mailed to Locals voter eligibility lists with the names and last known postal mailing addresses of every member of every local reflected in the CWA database. As it is the express constitutional responsibility of individual Guild members to notify their Locals of any change of address, the SERC specifically directed locals in writing to review, correct and update the addresses during the eligibility challenge period, which began February 11 and ended March 13. The Guild constitution sets aside this 30 day period for the express purpose of allowing locals to update membership address information and provide that information to the SERC, in advance of the election.
On February 22, TNG sent another email to Local officers, advising them to “send all address updates to TNG as soon as possible to facilitate changes that must be made for future mailings.” With that email, TNG offered locals access to electronic copies of the eligibility list to simplify the submission of member address changes to the SERC.
At least 18 Guild locals representing 82% of TNG’s membership submitted updated membership lists and address changes to the SERC during this period.
Ballots were then mailed on March 20 in accordance with the SERC election schedule.
In a continuing attempt to reach Guild members who may not have provided updated address information to their Locals, on March 26 TNG posted a direct notice to members on its website, which provided a link members could use to directly request a ballot from the SERC.
On April 15, the Guild further posted a standing banner notice on its website with a link for members to directly request a ballot if they failed to get one, due to bad address information or otherwise.
Between the end of March and May 10, the SERC sent replacement ballots to 253 members who requested them directly from TNG. Moreover, the SERC sent an additional 102 replacement ballots to members with bad addresses in the membership database, based on forwarding information obtained when the post office returned mail to TNG.
These ongoing efforts were undertaken by TNG and the SERC over several months to seek to ensure enfranchisement even where members had not informed their Guild local of their current address, as the Guild Constitution expressly requires.
The SERC knows that many locals did their best to encourage members to provide changes of address — by sending members notices of the election, by email reminders, and by posting reminders on Local social media sites that any address changes should be reported. Any updated address information received was forwarded to the SERC, and was used to immediately send replacement ballots to members, right up until the close of balloting.
The Canadian Media Guild, the largest local in the Guild, which accounted for many of the ballots returned due to out of date addresses, had repeatedly contacted members by email and social media (including Twitter) to encourage address corrections and to further provide members the information they needed to directly request a ballot from the SERC.
Further, both the candidates provided information to members on how to get a replacement ballot in their online campaign materials, including Twitter feeds and websites.
In short, the SERC, the national union and its locals went to great lengths to get ballots to every eligible voter in this election. Statements to the contrary are simply incorrect.