Important: Report from the Alameda Labor Council delegates’ meeting February 6, 2012
Charges having been filed with the ALC President David Connolly on January 23rd against Port Commissioner/ Alameda Labor Council (ALC) Delegate Victor Uno and his wife ALC Executive Secretary Treasurer (EST) Josie Camacho for conflict of interest occurring during the December 5, 2011 ALC Delegates’ meeting, a hearing of the charges took place during the February 6th the ALC Delegates meeting.
It was my duty to be present as the Delegate putting forward the charges on behalf of American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 444. For the benefit of interested parties, I will now record my impressions of what took place before and during the ALC Delegates’ meeting on February 6. I repeat these are my impressions and may not be shared by all those attending the meeting.
I arrived ten minutes early for the 7 pm meeting and was “greeted” as I passed through the front door by four or five imposing figures sitting at a table wearing very distinctive black Teamster jackets. I couldn’t help but think these Union brothers were awaiting my arrival. Next I passed through a long hall where 3 or 4 women, members of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APLA), were handing out fliers in support of Victor Uno and Josie Camacho although their two-sided flier never outlined or addressed the charges leveled against them. Passing through another door I entered the meeting room that was attended by one of the largest assemblies of delegates I have witnessed during my two year tenure as a delegate to the ALC.
At the time the meeting was called to order people began passing out the charges against Uno and Camacho but there were not enough to go around. When people asked the chair for more copies the chair responded by saying that there aren’t any more so you’ll have to share. The Chair, President Connolly, then informed the Delegates that he was about to preside over the prescribed procedure as provided for in the ALC Constitution concerning the handling of charges brought against delegates and/or officers of the ALC. He summed up the charges as he saw them and then editorialized on the appropriateness and legality of them. His remarks were clearly meant to diminish the validity and seriousness of the charges. There were no provisions for him to editorialize in this manner. In fact, Article XVI, Sec. 4 states “At the next meeting of the Council the presiding officer shall cause the charges as filed to be read to the Council.” Not only were all the members not provided with copies of the charges but they were not read aloud by the presiding officer. Following this break with procedure President Connolly stated that because of time restraints the Delegates would be allowed one minute to voice their opinion on the charges. As the bringer of the charges I was called to make a statement. As I began to outline the charges I was cut off by the President because I had exceeded my minute. It never occurred to me that I was included in the one minute limit. The end result was that I was unable to make a statement supporting the allegations that Uno and Camacho were guilty of conflicts of interest. After I was cut off the accused made their prepared statements which in no way addressed the charges accept to say that they were absurd and that their dedicated work for Labor over the years spoke to their integrity. What followed was an orchestrated love fest during which member after member attested to Uno’s and Camacho’s dedication, honesty, loyalty, and/or the absurdity of the charges. One woman remarked that this was just another attack on a strong woman. With only one exception none of the speakers addressed the actual charges. The final result seemed pre-ordained by the orchestrated process. The Constitution specifies that a ballot be taken as to whether the question “Shall the charges, as presented, be deemed worthy of trial.” The Constitution’s requirement of a ballot is designed to protect delegates’ privacy and prevent both the reality and the fear of possible future intimidation or reprisals. Disregarding this requirement, the question was presented for a vocal vote. There were only two or possibly three votes in the affirmative. After the decision not to take the charges to a trial was announced there was a large round of applause and 25% of the delegates present left the meeting.
The reader can draw his or her own conclusion as to the fairness of what took place at the Feb. 6, 2012 ALC Delegates’ meeting. My opinion is that it was a miscarriage of democratic procedures resulting in a denial of justice. This is yet another example of why the rank and file shuns Labor organizations. To remain silent is to condone these unjust, un- democratic procedures.
Charles T. Smith
AFSCME Local 444 Delegate to the Alameda Labor Council
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