Eliminating dissenters

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2002

On Jan. 14, I was greeted with an e-mail at work informing me that our ASEA union president had been suspended in an emergency meeting by six members of an 11-member board for - among other things - "Refusals to approve authorized payments of union expenses." Well, this was fairly confusing to me because I understand that the president is the one who authorizes payments from union funds. Does he authorize them and then approve them? Or does someone else authorize them? Could it be that our union president questioned these expenses?

Another concern of these six members is that the union president apparently raised a question about our newly established Health Trust that cost $11,129 to answer. Must've been a real stumper.

Could it be that our union president is asking these questions in order to stop the hemorrhage of funds from our business office and stave off another dues increase?

It is hard to know because this information is hard to come by. Ask the business office and see how far you get.

For each one of us, $465.48/year is withheld from our wages in union dues. (For 7,000-plus members, that's an income to ASEA of $3,195,000 per year.) And I hate to see my dues dollars squandered on this kind of senseless activity. Figuring air fare, hotel, meals, staff time, business leave, meeting room rental, and legal expenses, the "emergency" meeting of Jan. 12 probably cost our union $8,000. I prefer to see this money spent on salary studies, preparation for wage reopeners next year, improvements to our Health Trust benefits, or new parking spaces for our members.

Let's face it. Our union's problem is not its president: Its problem is a governing board that is utterly incapable of working together productively for the benefit of the union members. For whatever reason, these people feel that we have elected them to eliminate "dissenters" from the board. (Naturally, each faction considers the other to be the "dissenters.")

News flash: That is not why you are elected. You are elected to run this organization so that all members are fairly represented in workplace disputes, to improve the wages, benefits, and working conditions of all members through contract bargaining, and to exercise discretion, judgment and sound accounting practice in the expenditure of union funds.

That may sound pretty dull next to the highly charged power plays you've been amusing yourselves with. But it's - duh - your elected duty.

Alma Seward

ASEA member

Department of Fish and Game


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