CAPS Rank and File fighting union election Bulletin #2
Brother and Sister CAPS members,
Last November the CAPS board and Staffers ran their little dog and pony show across the state to sell to the membership the very same rotten contract we rejected just three months earlier in straw polls at the informational summer meetings. I made interventions at the meetings in an attempt to persuade the membership to reject the rotten contract. But to do so I had to fight for the right to address the membership and put a discussion of strategy and tactics on the agenda. This should not be such a hard thing for a member of a union to accomplish but I found out that indeed this organization has been manipulated to prevent any one member from putting any union business before the other 2,500-3,000 members. I also found out that others had tried before and been driven out of the organization.
In review of that episode find attached find a compendium of communications produced during the November meetings. In particular we reproduce a letter entitled “Check Elitism at the Door” a response to the viewpoint of Chris Voight that scientists are superior beings, heads above the lowly working class and therefore too elite to engage in class struggle, better for us to let the lawyers fight for us. And even more interesting we reproduce a letter from Lauran Wold an ex CAPS board member who came to the realization that CAPS is little more than a trough from which Blanning and Baker drinks. Also included in the compendium are reports from two of the three informational meetings I attended in the Bay Area. Most interesting was a statement from CAPS board member David Miller that no one pays attention to the bylaws. Well that really got my goat!
So after my pointing out how their refusal to abide the bylaws was a breach of contractual agreement, a breach a fiduciary responsibility, and a theft from the members of dues by denial of rights, the board (most likely under the influence of Blanning and Baker in the guise of Austin and Voight) amended the 2007 bylaws last February without telling the membership in hope that no one would notice what had been stolen from us. As I suggested yesterday call or email CAPS and ask for your own copy of the 2007 and 2011 bylaws and read them side by side.
The CAPS FIGHTING UNION CAUCUS is against suing the union because we believe labor needs to clean its own house. But we have no objection to CAPS suing Blanning and Baker’s appointed Executive Director and the entire law firm both individually and collectively for breach of fiduciary responsibility and denial of our rights for 10 years while taking our money and directing it to their coffers. The way I figure it, at approximately 1.5 million a year, for ten years of theft of services, they owe us near about 15 million dollars. That would really start a nice fat job action fund!
But I digress, when I first heard about the meetings in Summer and fall of 2010 I expected them to be the 2007 bylaws mandated annual membership meetings. But much to my surprise I found out that they were informational meetings, which members could ask questions at but not set agenda points during.
I should have had a clue about the lack of democracy when I first joined CAPS. Six months into my membership I called the office and said, “I’m a new member, I can see we are heading into a catastrophic situation that the membership needs to address, when is the next membership meeting?” The reply I got was, “we don’t have anything to tell you at this time” and then I got the long song and dance about the pay parity case and how it was going. It crossed my mind to say, “maybe the membership has something to say to you” but I was new and just feeling things out and did not want to step on any toes at the time. But as I got more familiar with the membership and got a copy of the 2007 bylaws and financial statements it started to become clear to me what CAPS has become, or what is was created to be, a funnel taking scientists money and giving it to Blanning and Baker at the rate of close to 1.5 million dollars a year.
To keep this little racket going Blanning and Baker had to steal our bylaws mandated rights and convince members of the board that bylaws don’t matter. In so doing this law firm has devalued our labor year after year by signing contracts without COLA’s conceding on furloughs (now PLDs), increasing our contributions to pensions and medical all without a fight. How did they get away with it?
Blanning and Baker staff and CAPS leadership push the position that scientists are not workers, that somehow, according to Chirs Voight we (See attached letter “Check elitism at the door”), are too prestigious to get our hands dirty in the class struggle and that the only option we had, was to go along with what Governor Brown had to offer (basically the Schwarzenegger contract), the membership accepted the same rotten deal we had rejected a few months earlier.
We see this as a sign of resignation and demoralization because the members did not have leadership with a strategy and tactics capable of defeating the lies of the top 0.01% and their bought and paid for media pundits who offer a dialog that spans the entire alphabet from A-B (CNN-FOX). Listening to these corporate paid pundits our leadership and staff laments the “fact” that the public hates us. Despite the fact that more scientific polls show the public is on our side. Miscalculating the public viewpoint, and relieved that they do not have to do more than sell the membership concessionary contracts and more lawsuits, CAPS (Blanning and Baker) staff threw in the towel and protested when workers (at the DTSC meeting) demanded that we hold Brown to his perceived pro-labor image.
The CAPS FIGHTING UNION CAUCUS has commenced on a campaign to end the domination of CAPS by a law firm which is both incapable of serving our interests and dedicated to taking our dues into their balance sheet. Please call CAPS or write the office and ask for a record of financial statements for the duration of your membership. The staff is obligated to make those records available to you. What you will see is that your dues money has been sustaining Blanning and Bakers habitual need to go to court. Despite loosing case after case Blanning and Baker never actually lose. Why? Because they get paid at our expense despite loosing. There is a term that defines the behavior of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result! It is called insanity.
But we have a choice keep the current leadership and the thieves of Blanning and Baker in place or lift ourselves out of our B&B imposed apathy and miasma and organize unit by unit, job site by job site and form a democratic CAPS capable of uniting with the 1.5 million public workers in California to defend our rights and working conditions against the interests of the 84 California billionaires who are laughing all the way to the bank while your 401k’s evaporate! The choice is yours organize or watch the top 0.01% strip us bare while Blanning and Baker shrug their shoulders and say,”that’s the best we could do.”
We still need people to step forward and take the lead by running for office. You have until August 26th to get a petition with 10 CAPS members’ signatures on it to run for office.
If you find this discussion of value please forward it to other CAPS members around the state.
ELECT WILL WRIGHT PRESIDENT, CHARLES RACHLIS VICE PRESIDENT and Giorgio Cosentino Treasurer !
Charles Rachlis for the CAPS FIGHTING UNION CAUCUS