CAPS Rank and File fighting union caucus bulletin #4
August 28, 2011
Brother and Sister CAPS members,
Below find attached an open letter to President Patty Valdez in which I reported on my unsuccessful, yet not uneventful, visit to the CAPS office to inspect and copy the membership list. Members will recall that we want the membership list because we have been denied the right to the bylaws mandated annual membership meeting for 10 years. This practice prevents the membership from accessing each other and making democratic decisions.
While pursuing our democratic right to address the membership we have come to conclude that Blanning and Baker LLC (B&B) have denied the membership their rights for 10 years as part of their business plan. Basically B&B have made CAPS into a profit center for their LLC to the detriment of the CAPS membership. Yes, CAPS, though formally independent and owned by its membership is actually a captive union under corporate control and Blanning and Baker do not want the members to understand the real relationship so they have told the S.F. Police Dept. to arrest Charles Rachlis (candidate for CAPS VP) if he comes back to the #1 Sutter St CAPS office!
What we have discovered, in our attempt to democratically access the membership, is that B&B staff know well the laws under which they operate and in blatant disregard for those laws they have violated our rights and in so doing have fleeced the membership of millions of dollars which they have controled over the years.
On August 16th 2011 Chris Voight wrote to Giorgio Cosentino who was inquiring about how utilize the bylaws change of 2011 allowing the membership to petition the board to hold a membership meeting. Chris stated: “CAPS has that language in its bylaws as a requirement of the California Corporations Code, on advice of counsel. Every Mutual Benefit Non Profit Corporation (MBNPC), as CAPS is organized, should have it. But that doesn’t mean the process is practical or that it would ever be used in an organization the size and shape of CAPS.” This means that Chris fully understands that CAPS as an MBNPC must follow the corporate codes which govern them. So let us look at the Attorney Generals web site. There we find that Non Profit Mutual Benefit Corporations are governed by laws which B&B have violated year after year.
On that page you will find a list of links to corporate codes and the violations they are ascribed to.
The first one listed is failure to hold a regular meeting of the members. Corp.Code.Section 7510(b)
Other violations of members rights are outlined on this page. For example: Failure to send member list of names and addresses of members upon written request. Corporate Code, Seciton 8330(2) http://leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/calawquery?codesection=corp&codebody=8330&hits=20
There are more violations which we have discovered and will outline in future communications. We have also discovered that because of the lack of information given the members and the attitude and presentation given by Matt Austin and Chris Voight we were under the misperception that B&B is a law firm. Rather we learned they are a contract outfit which acts as CAPS agent. Does this change anything? Not really they are still in violation of the law and have violated their responsibility to the membership as our agent. At least when it all collapses around them they won’t have to answer ethics charges at the bar.
What can you do? Call CAPS. Ask for your copy of 2007 and 2011 bylaws. Ask when was the last bylaws mandated membership meeting held. Ask for the right to access the membership via inspection and copying of the membership list. Demand that Charles Rachlis not be arrested for visiting the CAPS office. Ask why your check is smaller, why your COLA has not kept your pay up with inflation, why they think you should continue to give B&B control of our 1.5 million a year in dues.
Now our struggle with CAPS began as a fight for a change of strategy and tactics because the existing direction has produced cuts in pay and benefits and promises more concessions. B&B method links the union to the corporate political power structures, players and ultimately to a system which benefits the top 0.01% at the expense of the rest of us.
What we found was that CAPS is a captive union, its memberships power has been usurped by corporate raiders and their job is to keep workers from acting outside the corporate method which today means hold our hands and whisper sweet nothings while they conduct concessionary bargaining.
Below find the complaint I sent to the board following being assaulted and threatened with arrest by Matt Austin on Friday August 26th while attempting to examine the membership list.
Elect Will Wright PhD President, Charles Rachlis Vice President, Giorgio Cosentino Treasure
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 4:58 PM
Subject: Matt Austin struck me today at the CAPS* Sutter street office. office
Hi Patty Valdez**,
Today I went to the SF CAPS office to inspect the membership list. Based on the communication we received (in an e-mail to caucus member and CAPS candidate for Treasurer Giorgio Cosentino) from Chris Voight stating that members could go to either the San Francisco or the Sacramento office to inspect the records. I (Charles Rachlis caucus member and candidate for Vice President of CAPS) took a few vacation hours to visit the CAPS office in SF and inspect the membership list, as is our right.
To prepare the office staff for my visit, I sent two emails to the CAPS staff on August 25th and asked for information by COB on how to inspect the list. In the second e-mail I noticed that I planned to go to the office and inspect the list. Not getting a response from CAPS staff by 9:30 am today (in fact still none by now) I traveled to the city for the visit.
When I got to the office at #1 Sutter Street Suite 800 I found the door locked. On the door there were plaques for Blanning and Baker, then CAPS, then PECGS, and one more organization. I knocked on the door and after a few moments Matt Austin opened the door. I stepped across the threshold with my left foot and much to my surprise Matt Austin struck me across the chest with his forearm in an attempt to block my entry and demanded in a belligerent tone “what are you doing here?” I responded, I am here to inspect the list. I referenced the emails with Chris Voight and my two unanswered emails and proceeded to enter. Matt pointed to the chairs and I waited there.
Matt threatened me with security and I explained again that Chris already Okayed our right to see the list. He then called Chris but could not get through. Then obviously frustrated and not wanting to show me the list he came over to me and got right up in my face (about 2.5 inches from me) and said with a twisted up face, “listen buster you don’t know who your messing with.” “You can see the list but you have to be civil.” I responded, “what is the definition of civil? Is there a definition in the bylaws of civil?” Of course I was thinking how can someone who hits you on the way into the room then gets up in your face complain that you’re not being civil? Then the phone rang and Chris called back. Matt answers and tells Chris that Charles is here and he is being a jerk. Now that got my goat and so I over spoke Matt loudly just so Chris could hear me and understand that members rights were being trampled.
Moments later Matt hangs up with Chris and calls security to run me out of the building. I challenged his authority to kick me out of the CAPS office. I noted that as a CAPS member I pay for the office and have a right to come there. He then told me CAPS pays no rent here and that I was not a tenant of the building and he would call the cops which he promptly did. I demanded to know whose office it is because it says CAPS on the door. Matt said it is his office, and continued his call to the cops to have me arrested. At which point I called my lawyer and asked what to do and we decided to leave under duress when the building security asked me to leave.
So CAPS has to answer:
1) Is it CAPS policy to allow staffers to hit members?
2) Is the office at Sutter Street a CAPS office or is it Matt Austin’s office?
3) What is the proper procedure for inspecting the membership list?
4) Who is Matt Austin I do not see him listed on the CAPS web site?
5) Why is the Sutter Street address listed on the web site if it is not a CAPS office as Matt stated?
6) Why is the plaque for CAPS on the door of Suite 800 if this is Matt Austin’s office and not a CAPS office?
7) Why are CAPS materials and information stored in Matt Austin’s office which he claims is not a CAPS office?
8) Why did Chris Voight tell us we could inspect the list at the CAPS office on Sutter Street if that is not the case?
9) When, where and how can CAPS members inspect the membership list?
How long has this type of intimidation been going on? Now I understand why members have been hesitant to stand up for their rights. Blanning and Baker which holds CAPS captive will do everything it can to prevent members from looking into how they loot our organization.
Associate Industrial Hygienist
Richmond Campus Health and Safety Officer
*CAPS is the California Association of Professional Scientists representing 2500 State of Califonia Scientists
**Patty Valdez is the lame duck president of the organization.