AFGE Runs More Bad Internal Elections than Any Other US Union, DOL Finds

By on June 8, 2015 in Current Events with 158 Comments

As if having more criminal activity than any other U.S. Union wasn’t bad enough, the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) since 2011 has conducted nineteen investigations of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) internal elections finding misconduct.  According to OLMS’ website, “When an OLMS investigation determines that a violation occurred that may have affected the outcome of a union election, OLMS seeks to enter into an agreement with the union for corrective action. If this voluntary agreement is not reached, the Secretary may file suit in federal district court to have the challenged election overturned and have a new election held under OLMS supervision.”

Each of the cases below are copied verbatim from DOL’s website. If you count up the bad elections by union, AFGE has more than any other public or private sector labor organization over the past five years.

On April 14, 2015, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Local 2028 (located in Pittsburgh, Pa.), concerning the challenged election of officers conducted on December 1, 2014 and the January 12, 2015 runoff election.  The union agreed to conduct a new election for executive vice president, chaplain, chief steward (Oakland), EEO officer (runoff candidates only) and six delegate positions under OLMS supervision.  The investigation of the challenged election disclosed that the union denied members the right to vote when eligible members were not mailed ballots and when ballot packages returned for having bad addresses were not re-mailed after a forwarding address had been provided.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Philadelphia-Pittsburgh District Office.

On February 2, 2015, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2206 (located in Birmingham, Ala.), concerning the challenged election of officers conducted on March 27, 2014.  The union agreed to conduct new nominations, if necessary, and a new election for vice president of grievances, vice president – COS, vice president – section 1, vice president – section 2, and secretary under OLMS supervision.  The investigation of the challenged election disclosed that the union failed to provide proper notice of election; denied members the right to vote; permitted ineligible members to vote; and failed to provide adequate safeguards when instructions were not included with the ballot and when candidates were listed on the ballot for races for which not all members were eligible to vote.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Atlanta-Nashville District Office.

On December 9, 2014, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Veterans Affairs (VA) Council 227 (located in Pineville, La.), concerning its May 9, 2014 election of officers.  The union has agreed to conduct new local delegate elections, a new election and if necessary, new nominations, for the council offices of president, treasurer, and recording secretary, under OLMS supervision before May 29, 2015.  The investigation disclosed that the union failed to elect its officers by secret ballot vote, in violation of the AFGE Constitution, Appendix A, Part II, Section 1(b) and the Council 227 Constitution, Article X, Section 1, when the delegate voting entitlement appeared on the voted ballots and it was possible to identify how numerous votes were cast in the election.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Dallas-New Orleans District Office.

On August 13, 2014, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2544 (located in Tucson, Ariz.), concerning the local’s failure to hold its regularly scheduled officer election in November 2013. The investigation concluded that the local failed to adequately inform its members of a meeting to amend its bylaws extending the terms of local officers from two to three years.  Local 2544 agreed to hold an election under OLMS supervision.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Los Angeles District Office.

On August 4, 2014, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3320 (located in Houston, Tex.), to conduct a new election and installation for the offices of president, vice president, and secretary on or before October 31, 2014, under OLMS supervision.  The investigation disclosed that a candidate was denied a reasonable opportunity to campaign by not being provided requested information about making a campaign mailing to the membership.  In addition, employer facilities were used when the former president sent an email to all employees through the government’s email system prior to the election which praised the vice president who was succeeding him as president and who was the winning presidential candidate.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Dallas-New Orleans District Office.

On July 15, 2014, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 96 (located in St. Louis, Mo.) to conduct a new election and installation for the offices of president and first vice president for professionals before October 17, 2014 under OLMS supervision.  These two offices were the only contested offices in the local’s December 6, 2013 protested election.  The investigation disclosed that members were denied the right to vote when no effort was made to find correct addresses for the combined nomination and election notices and the ballot packages that were returned as undeliverable.  Additionally, there was no notice of the replacement ballot request procedure posted and the Fall Winter 2013 local newsletter contained articles from incumbent officers highlighting their accomplishments, one of which was reprinted in campaign literature.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Denver-St. Louis Office.

On July 11, 2014, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and its Local 3314 (located in Buffalo, N.Y.), to conduct new nominations, a new election, and installation for the office of president prior to October 17, 2014 under OLMS supervision. The investigation disclosed that the local improperly applied a candidate eligibility requirement and denied a member the right to be a candidate for president. The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Boston-Buffalo District Office.

On December 17, 2013, the Department entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 53 (located in Norfolk, Va.), concerning its February 22, 2013, election of officers.  Local 53 agreed to conduct new nominations and a new election for president, 1st vice president, 2nd vice president, 3rd vice president, 4th vice president, secretary, treasurer, chief steward, and trustee on or before March 14, 2013.  The OLMS investigation of the challenged election disclosed that the local failed to do the following:  provide all members with a notice of nominations; provide adequate safeguards and mail election notices or ballot packages to members’ last known home address; and ensure members the right to a secret ballot when the membership mailing/eligibility list, ballots, and related ballot envelopes were numbered thereby compromising voter secrecy.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Washington District Office.

On December 4, 2013, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National Union and AFGE Local 1917 (located in New York, N.Y.) to conduct new nominations for the office of 2nd vice president, and a new election for the offices of 2nd vice president and the fair practices coordinator under OLMS supervision no later than April 18, 2014.  The investigation established that Local 1917 denied a properly nominated member in good standing the right to be a candidate when it removed the 2nd vice president’s name from the ballot, denied otherwise eligible voters the right to vote in the mail ballot election because ballots that were hand-delivered to the designated election mailing house were not included in the ballot tally, and failed to provide adequate safeguards for a fair election insofar as ballot packages sent to voters did not contain secret ballot envelopes to ensure voter secrecy.  The agreement is a result of an investigation conducted by the OLMS New York District Office.

On October 29, 2013, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with Local 3197 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), located in Seattle, Washington, to conduct a new election for 1st vice president, chief steward, local women’s coordinator, and local fair practice coordinator under OLMS supervision.  The investigation disclosed:  inadequate safeguards to ensure a fair election; members were denied the right to vote by not including the date by which voted ballots had to be returned in order to be counted; some members were denied the right to vote by not providing adequate time between the ballot mailing and the tally; voted ballots and undelivered ballots were not properly safeguarded; and no effort was made to mail ballots to members whose ballots were returned undelivered and there was no announced duplicate ballot request procedure.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS San Francisco-Seattle District Office.

On August 15, 2013, the Department entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3553 (located in New Orleans, La.), concerning its February 16, 2013, election of officers.  Local 3553 agreed to conduct new nominations, if necessary, and a new election for president, 1st vice president, 2nd vice president, treasurer, secretary, and chief steward on or before December 12, 2013.  The investigation disclosed the following:  the local failed to provide adequate safeguards and failed to properly count the votes cast when additional ballots were retrieved from the post office and included in the tally after the ballots were initially tallied, the local failed to follow the AFGE Constitution and the AFGE Election Manual when ballots received after the established deadline were counted as valid ballots, and the local failed to maintain election records in violation of Section 401(e) of the LMRDA.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS New Orleans District Office.

On February 27, 2013, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement concerning the challenged election of officers conducted by American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2274 (located in Saginaw, Mich.), on July 18, 2012.  The agreement provides that Local 2274 will conduct new nominations and a new election, under OLMS supervision, for the offices of president, first vice president, and chief steward.  The OLMS investigation of the challenged election disclosed that Local 2274 failed to do the following:  comply with a reasonable request to distribute campaign literature; treat candidates equally with respect to campaign literature distribution; elect officers by secret ballot when candidates in the election collected ballots at a work site; provide adequate safeguards; properly count the ballots; and maintain election records.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Detroit District Office.

On February 26, 2013, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 607 (located in Elkton, Ohio), to conduct a new election for president under OLMS supervision on or before May 8, 2013.  The investigation established that AFGE Local 607 improperly disqualified an otherwise qualified member from running for president because he was also a member of a Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) local lodge.  Although the AFGE Constitution has long contained a provision that prohibits a member who holds membership in a labor organization not affiliated with the AFL-CIO from being qualified to run for office, the local had previously allowed members who were also FOP members to run for and hold elected office. The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office.

In November 2012, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1120 in Boise, Idaho, concerning the challenged election in June 2012.  The union agreed to conduct a new runoff election and installation for the office of president under OLMS supervision.  The investigation established that Local 1120 failed to elect by secret ballot when the identity of members casting ballots using the union’s internet electronic voting system could be linked with their vote and the vote of a member who cast a ballot by mail could be easily identified.  Additionally, the union did not provide candidates the opportunity to have observers at each stage of the election process since the election was conducted outside of the local union’s jurisdiction using an electronic voting system.  The supervised election took place in February 2013 by mail ballot.

On September 20, 2012, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3928 (located in Lincoln, Nebr.), concerning its election of officers held on March 20, 2012.  The OLMS investigation concluded that the local did not take adequate steps to update its membership list resulting in members not receiving election notices or timely absentee ballots, the absentee ballot procedure was inadequate, the election committee improperly removed absentee ballots from the post office box prior to the ballot tally, and ballots from eligible members were not included in the tally.  The union agreed to conduct a new election for the positions of president and vice president-USCIS under OLMS supervision.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS St. Louis District Office.

On September 7, 2011, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1010 (located in Beaumont, Tex.), concerning the union’s failure to hold a regularly scheduled election of officers in May 2011.  The union agreed to conduct nominations and an election of officers under OLMS supervision.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS New Orleans District Office.

On July 28, 2011, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with Local 1546 of the American Federation of Government Employees (located in San Francisco, Calif.), concerning its election of officers completed on January 14, 2011.  The OLMS investigation concluded that Local 1546 improperly disqualified two candidates.  The union agreed to conduct a new election for 1st vice president and treasurer under OLMS supervision. The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS San Francisco District Office.

On July 22, 2011, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with Local 1224 of the American Federation of Government Employees (located in Las Vegas, Nev.), concerning its election of officers completed on January 11, 2011.  The OLMS investigation concluded that Local 1224 denied members in good standing their right to vote when it failed to mail ballots to all eligible members.  The union agreed to conduct a new election for president (the only contested officer position) before November 1, 2011, under OLMS supervision.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Seattle District Office.

On June 13, 2011, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2109 (located in Temple, Tex.), concerning the Local 2109 rerun election of officers conducted on September 10, 2010.  The OLMS investigation disclosed violations including the union’s failure to mail election notices to all Local 2109 members at their last known home address and its failure to elect by secret ballot when a faxed ballot was counted.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Dallas District Office.

The above and the criminal activity cited in the earlier article are not small things.  Keep in mind, most of these people are Federal employees.  I suspect a number have security clearances or perhaps have access to sensitive government materials or installations.  Also keep in mind that there are no standards for who may be elected to union office other than being a member in good standing.  This means you pay your dues and attend an occasional meeting.  Some of us with experience in Federal sector, know that a fair number of union officials have either a disciplinary history or have personal axes to grind.  A low percentage of membership helps elect some bad apples.

AFGE will have you believe that they are needed to protect employees from Agency management.  Who protects employees from them?  Apparently the folks at OLMS, who step up to the plate and look into member complaints.  But these investigations only result from complaints or provided evidence; no one is overseeing union internal operations.  This is unconscionable.  AFGE, isn’t it time you looked at your own house for a change and rethought the way you operate.  I know there are many good folks out there who want and need good representation.  Based on OLMS’ findings, AFGE certainly is not that representative.  Is there anyone in the union who thinks achieving the worst behavior by a union award from OLMS is a prize to be cherished?

AFGE is a member of the National Council on Federal Labor Management Relations created by Executive Order.  In fact, the current Forum Home Page has a picture of AFGE’s national president arguing that his and other Federal employee unions should have more of a role in Pre-decisional Involvement (PDI) on running the government.  Don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen a word from him on establishing internal controls to address criminal conduct or election misconduct by his officers in the field.  Perhaps there should be a higher standard to get a seat at the Forum table.

As always, anything you read as an opinion is my responsibility.  I am not, however responsible for the list of cases above.  The report comes directly from the Department of Labor.

© 2016 Bob Gilson. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Bob Gilson.

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About the Author

Bob Gilson is a consultant with a specialty in working with and training Federal agencies to resolve employee problems at all levels. A retired agency labor and employee relations director, Bob has authored or co-authored a number of books dealing with Federal issues and also conducts training seminars.

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