That’s right. It’s time to get the brooms. And we’re not even talking about the contract (which we haven’t gotten yet).
Setting aside, for the moment, interesting philosophical questions about the nature of ‘shenannigans,‘ it seems that strange things are afoot at the Union office.
First we heard that Perry would be stepping down and there would be an election (no fault, Jesú–that’s a reasonable interpretation of whatever was actually said since that’s how these things usually work), then word comes that he wasn’t going to step down but there would be an election in case he had to, and then there was notice about the candidates and their letters of introduction and that they’d attend our local union meeting, and then last night I received this email, forwarded from a union rep, which I found stunning, both for the content and the names of the signatories:
From: Rochelle Robinson-Dukes
Date: Sun, Mar 10, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Subject: URGENT! LOCAL 1600 “ELECTION” INFORMATION
To: Rochelle Robinson-Dukes
Due to recent events, including the CCC contract, we have begun to question the actions of our union leadership. We trusted our leadership to have the members’ best interests at heart, sadly this appears to no longer be the case. We have begun to question things and have found disturbing facts that should be revealed. We are only shedding light on the recent errant behavior and practices of our leadership. If anyone is dismayed by it, they should hold accountable those who committed these acts.
Dear Member of the House of Representatives,
Although Perry Buckley is continuing in his illegitimate effort to attempt to have an unconstitutional election, please be aware that he does NOT have the authority, for ANY reason, to override the Constitution of Local 1600. He has made it clear that he doesn’t care in the least what our Constitution says. Assistant to the President, Randy Barnette, in speaking to Chapter Chair of Wright College, Linda Murphy, on December 14, 2012, said, “Perry is the King; he can do whatever he wants.” One of Perry’s own favorite sayings is, “We make up the rules.”
It appears that Suburban Vice President, Dave Richmond, supports Perry’s attempt to hold an election without a vacancy. Dave Richmond mailed a letter dated February 27, 2013 to the House delegates in which he wrote, “I have decided to submit my name for consideration to fill the unexpired term of President Buckley when and if he should step down.”
Our Constitution is crystal clear: “When the office of the President shall become vacant, the House of Representatives shall elect an acting president (Article IV, Section 3).”
Imagine if the politicians in Washington were able to have elections to determine the results, and then decide if they wanted to step down. Democracy, in such a case, would cease to exist. This is a turning point for our Union. We have to decide if we will continue down this authoritarian road, or choose the path of restoring democracy to our Union. The behavior of the president and a few of his associates has seriously eroded democracy and harmed our union.
Our Constitution is inviolable. It is not subject to Perry Buckley’s interpretation. At the last House meeting, Norm Swenson reported that a copy of the constitution which disenfranchised the Retiree Delegation by reducing their representation in the House (from 1 delegate per 35 members to 1 delegate per 150 members) was posted on Local 1600’s website. Perry admitted this “constitution” came from his own computer. When this “error” was discovered, it was taken down and replaced with our legitimate Constitution.
At the House meeting on Friday, November 16, 2012, Perry had one of the officers propose a motion to cap our stipends. This would mean that we, the delegates, would no longer receive the dollar ($1) increase to our stipend for all of the hard work that we do for our members. Linda Murphy and Treasurer Don Radtke spoke against this motion, and the House spoke out and voted it down.
Differences of opinion are not tolerated by undemocratic leaders; those who disagree are subject to retaliation in order to silence their speech. The following Tuesday, Linda received an email from Perry revoking all of her release time.
On Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 5:21 PM, [Perry Buckley] emailed:
“Linda, Please give me a call tomorrow when you have a chance. It concerns my returning your hours for the spring back to Keith Jordan at OH and Todd Lakin at Daley. The letter will go to the Chancellor tomorrow and I want to make sure you have enough time to pick up the classes you will need. — Perry”
This same day, Perry reprimanded Don Radtke. Perry told him that he and “other officers” thought that Don was “disloyal,” questioned his competency, said he should not be paid, and implied that he should resign. Don said his loyalty was to the union’s mission.
While Perry is concerned about saving a few dollars on the hard-working delegate stipends, there seems to be no limit to the salaries at the top. Randy Barnette’s salary of $131,000 has risen unchecked from $80,000 upon his hire (original salary approved by the Executive Board February 16, 2007) to $131,000 today. Randy’s $51,000 increase is nearly 10% a year over 6 years for a total raise of 64%. In contrast, CCC members will see a 2.9% average increase over 5 years for a total raise of 15%. The City Colleges contract “deal” handled exclusively by Perry with Randy as his advisor resulted in tremendous losses for many of our members. Randy’s raises were decided by Perry without any approval from the Executive Board. This goes against our Constitution, which requires the Executive Board to “make contracts and incur liabilities” (Article VI, Executive Board, Section 3; 8).
Fortunately, something good came out of the attempt to cap our stipends; it was the start of a democratic awakening. For example, at the Executive Board Meeting on Friday, February 15, Don Radtke proposed a motion to provide stipends for Local Union tasks such as committee meetings, negotiations, and disciplinary hearings. The Executive Board members voiced their approval of this motion. As a result, this stipend will recognize the value of the hard work we do and encourage democratic participation among our membership.
During this same Executive Board Meeting, Linda Murphy proposed a motion to have the first COPE committee meeting in 8 years and invited all Executive Board members to participate. The Executive Board members voiced their unanimous approval of this motion, and the COPE committee met for the first time on Friday, March 1, 2013. At the meeting, members proposed a motion to return the COPE checkbook to the office of the Treasurer, its rightful place. The motion also calls for future COPE checks to be approved by the House, as called for in the Constitution. (Constitution Preamble: “by a three-fifths vote of the Union House of Representatives, the Union may endorse and otherwise support candidates for state or national office in an election.” Over many years, Perry, Randy and the Legislative chair have dispersed COPE funds without the approval of the House. For example, since Randy Barnette was hired, they gave $11,500 to the campaign fund of Randy’s wife, Alderman Margaret Laurino (see attached). Prior to Randy’s hire, no COPE donations were given to Alderman Laurino.
Stopping the capping of our stipends, valuing our members’ work, encouraging participation, and holding open meetings with transparency are all clear evidence of the democratic awakening that we as House and Executive Board members have accomplished in recent months. These actions have started us back upon the path of restoring democracy to our Union.
Unfortunately, efforts to manipulate our electoral process continue. Randy Barnette requested a meeting with Linda Murphy on December 14, 2012 at the Starbucks in Irving Park (see attached). At this meeting, Randy said that Perry Buckley would not stay on for his full term, and that an election would be held to replace him. Randy explained how he thought that Dave Richmond was the best choice of all the officers to be president of the union. He offered Linda the position of Legislative Chair. Linda told Randy that she does not have any interest in being Legislative Chair. It was at this meeting that Randy stated, “Perry is the King, he can do whatever he wants.”
Later, Randy called William Stewart and asked him for a meeting. William is the Chapter Chair of Malcolm X College. William agreed, and they met at Wishbone Restaurant in the West Loop on Tuesday December 18, 2012. Randy told William that Perry would not be staying on for his full term and that with an election coming up, “you always want to be on the right side.” He then asked William what he thought about Dave Richmond; William responded that Dave Richmond has only talked to him once. He then asked what William thought about being in a Professional Vice President’s position. William replied that he had suggested to Perry that the union have such a position many times over the years, but that Perry was never interested in creating it. Randy replied that this isn’t a problem; we can work out a VP position for professionals. William did not agree to accept any position.
Randy then emailed Lonnie Washington, asking him to meet on Wednesday December 19, 2012. Lonnie is the Grievance Chair of Kennedy-King College (see attached). Randy, accompanied by Dave Richmond, met Lonnie at the Medici Restaurant in Hyde Park. Randy told Lonnie that he saw a future leadership role for him. Randy said he would help Lonnie gain whatever was necessary to ascend to his political aspirations. Kennedy-King’s Chapter Chair, Arlicia Corley, was neither invited to nor informed of this meeting by Randy or Dave.
On Friday February 1, 2013, William Stewart arrived at the downtown Union Office to turn in a parking receipt for reimbursement. Randy asked William to come into his office. Randy stated that there may be an opening in the Vice Presidency for the City Colleges. William asked, “what happened to Rochelle?” Randy replied that she may be running for president. William did not respond to Randy’s statement, since William knew that Rochelle was not running for president.
Who knows how many more meetings were held and how many of our union officer positions were offered, or how Randy and Perry are working to support their candidate in their proposed unconstitutional election? We know some individuals have accepted offers from Randy, and are now advocates for Perry’s agenda.
We ask the members of the House: should a staff member employed by our union be involved in clandestine political maneuvering within our union?
In Perry Buckley’s recent letter to the members of the House on February 25, 2013, he stated, “I will not nominate; will not endorse; will not campaign for any of the seven officers.” The idea that Perry Buckley is not “endorsing” any candidate is preposterous, when his own personal, “Assistant to the President,” Randy Barnette, is actively advocating for a particular candidate. This unconstitutional attempt at an election is simply designed to see if a certain outcome arises. We will not be enticed to go further down this authoritarian road. Without a vacancy in the office of the president, there can be no election.
Mel Anderson—Chapter Chair, Olive-Harvey College
Judith Armstead—Former Vice President, Local 1600, City Colleges
Arlicia Corley– Chapter Chair, Kennedy-King College
Maggie Hahn Wade—Former Chapter Chair, Triton College
Tom Kodogeorgiou–Former Grievance Chair, Local 1600
Margie McGowan–Chapter Chair, Harper Pro-Tech
Robin Meade–Chapter Chair, Moraine Valley Adjunct Faculty Organization
Linda Murphy–Chapter Chair, Wright College
Jim O’Malley—Former Vice President, Local 1600, Suburban
Dante Orfei–Chapter Chair, Morton College Faculty
Don Radtke–Treasurer, Local 1600
Rochelle Robinson-Dukes–Vice President, Local 1600, City Colleges
William Stewart Jr.–Chapter Chair, Malcolm X College
Phil Stucky–Former Chapter Chair, Harold Washington College
Norm Swenson–President Emeritus, Local 1600; Chapter Chair, Retirees
Jillian Verstrate—Former Vice President, Local 1600, Classified
Lonnie Washington—Grievance Chair, Kennedy-King College
Pat Wenthold–Former Secretary, Local 1600
It should also be noted that the email above had corroborating emails attached regarding the various meetings and statements by Perry. So, I wrote to VP Rochelle Robinson Dukes and Linda Murphy to ask their permission to post it, which they graciously granted along with letting me know that another email went out late last night:
From: Rochelle Robinson-Dukes
Subject: WARNING! ATTACK ON OUR CONSTITUTION
Date: March 14, 2013 9:40:34 PM CDT
Dear House of Representatives Member,
Thankfully Perry Buckley has called off his Unconstitutional election attempt.
“See the attached letter [from the AFT] for why Perry called off the election.*
Unfortunately, his new strategy appears to be to revise our Constitution to serve his political purposes. He intends to use some parts of the Constitution to justify opening up the entire document to change.
Part of the president’s new goal appears to be to disenfranchise the Retiree Chapter by changing the Constitution. The purpose would be to aid in getting his chosen candidate elected president in a future House election.
At the last House meeting, Norm Swenson reported that a copy of the constitution which disenfranchised the Retiree Delegation by reducing their representation in the House (from 1 delegate per 35 members to 1 delegate per 150 members) was posted on Local 1600’s website. Perry admitted this “constitution” came from his own computer, but stated it was an “error”.
In these turbulent times, we must respect and follow our Constitution as we follow the U.S. Constitution. If the Constitution is opened up at this time, it is vulnerable to changes that are politically motivated.
Even Bill Naegele believes an attempt to change our Constitution at this time is “suspect.”
Here is part of an email he wrote today to Perry and our union officers: “to pick and choose which clauses should be amended at the whim of a single officer is not good governing policy. We have all sworn to uphold the constitution. I know you, as president, have always done so while realizing that, in practice, sometimes informal adjustments need to be made to facilitate the orderly operation of the organization. I also find the timing of this sudden interest in changing the constitution somewhat suspect.”
Stay tuned, and keep your broom handy.