An independent committee has ordered an unprecedented re-run of the election for president of The NewsGuild (TNG), in which all CWA Canada members were eligible to vote.
TNG-CWA’s Sector Election and Referendum Committee (SERC), following an exhaustive investigation, determined that the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), contrary to its constitutional obligations, had “provided deeply flawed and unreliable membership information” in the referendum process that resulted in the disenfranchisement of more than 1,000 members.
The SERC had certified the results of the April election that saw incumbent Bernie Lunzer defeat Jon Schleuss 1,282 to 1,021.
CMG — the largest Local in TNG-CWA with 5,000 members — filed an election challenge upon learning after vote-counting had concluded in May that hundreds of mail-in ballots were sent to out-of-date addresses and returned unopened to TNG.
The committee’s resulting investigation found that “CMG provided more than 1,089 incorrect home addresses for members in good standing” and also “erroneously identified to the SERC as members in good standing approximately 942 individuals who are not Guild members” and therefore not entitled to vote in Sector elections.
In its decision released on Monday, the SERC said that, because of CMG’s “violation of its constitutional duties” and “egregious errors” that were “so numerous as to impact the outcome of the election,” it had no choice but to order a re-run.
The committee also decided that the re-run election, scheduled for this November, will be conducted by the American Arbitration Association (AAA), a contractor experienced in the administration of union elections.
“The use of AAA will lift from the SERC and assisting Guild staff the considerable physical and administrative burden posed by their responsibility to conduct an international mail referendum under complex and onerous election rules and constitutional requirements with limited resources.
“Equally important, use of AAA … will ensure confidence in a fair and democratic international referendum process,” said the committee.
The SERC said that, although the decision to re-run the election rendered consideration of two other election challenges unnecessary, “we nevertheless do so in the interest of reporting the full extent of our investigation and findings.”
It found no merit to allegations of bias, secrecy and a cover-up contained in the challenges, one filed by Schleuss and the other in the form of a petition from Fatima Hussein.