On September 22, 2022, the NABET-CWA Sector Executive Council (“SEC”) placed Local 41 under Temporary Trusteeship, in accordance with Article V, Section 5.6(O) of the Sector Bylaws. The purpose of this memo is to provide an update to Local 41 members on what is happening at the Local, and to answer some questions that have been asked of the Temporary Trustee, Edward McEwan.
First, Local 41 members should know that the SEC has decided to order a new election for all Local 41 officers. Members had filed timely election challenges to the March 2022 election. The Local Executive Board dismissed the challenges at its May 2022 Executive Board meeting, without conducting an investigation as required by the Local’s Bylaws. The members filed appeals with the SEC, which conducted its own investigation. The investigation revealed several serious violations of the Local and Sector Bylaws, the CWA Constitution, and federal labor law. Accordingly, to fully protect the rights and interests of all Local 41 members in good standing, a new election will be conducted in the coming months, supervised by the Sector, for Local officers.
Restoring democratic procedures at Local 41, to ensure that Executive Board members are properly elected, is also a key priority.
Trustee McEwan has been in the Local 41 office for six days since the imposition of the Temporary Trusteeship. The Local’s bank and investment accounts have been secured. Dues payments, whether paid individually by members, or through checkoff, are being processed. Trustee McEwan, with assistance from the Sector office, will continue the work necessary to ensure that the contracts are enforced, grievances are processed, and negotiations with employers remain on track. Traditionally, Local 41 officers, along with the members working at the station, bargain new contracts for their units. The former administration engaged a new law firm and hired attorneys to perform the bargaining work of the Local officers. The notes and proposals related to various contract negotiations must be retrieved from those attorneys. As a result, some bargaining dates may be postponed briefly, as the files from the new lawyers are gathered and reviewed. Negotiations with NBC and ABC remain under the authority of the respective Network Negotiating Committees.
In the coming weeks, a membership meeting will be conducted in Chicago, and ample notice will be given to allow participation by as many Local 41 members as possible. Trustee McEwan and Sector officers will be present to address issues raised by the membership, and to meet with members of contract bargaining teams.
Attached is a Question & Answer sheet to address some questions raised by members. Thank you for your patience and continued support.
Question: What is a Temporary Trusteeship?
Answer: Federal labor law allows a parent Union to impose a temporary trusteeship on a Local Union for four reasons only: 1) to restore democratic procedures in the Local; 2) to correct financial malpractice or corruption; 3) assure the performance of collective bargaining agreements or other duties as the employees’ representative; and 4) to otherwise carry out the legitimate goals of the Union. During the period of the temporary trusteeship, the Trustee, with assistance from designated staff and members, conducts the business of the Local.
Question: How long can the temporary trusteeship last?
Answer: Under federal labor law, extraordinary reasons must exist for a temporary trusteeship to continue for more than eighteen (18) months. Most temporary trusteeships last for six to twelve months.
Question: Who is in the office to handle dues payments?
Answer: Trustee McEwan will ensure all dues payments are credited to the members, and Local 41 staff will be assisting with this task. Please know the hard-working OPEIU-represented office staff continue to receive their wages and benefits.
Question: Why did the Sector impose the temporary trusteeship?
Answer: Every NABET-CWA Local Union sends the minutes of their Executive Board meeting minutes to the Sector office. A review of the Local 41 Executive Board minutes revealed the former Local President was appointing stewards, in violation of the Local and Sector Bylaws, which require the secret ballot election of all Executive Board members. Executive Board meeting minutes were altered, and these alterations were not the typical correcting of typos or a member’s name. The alterations dramatically changed motions that were made and adopted by the former Executive Board. The former Local President then presented excerpts of the altered Executive Board minutes in a scandalous “Local 41 Quarterly Update.”
Local 41 collected dues from members who were not on checkoff, but failed to send the dues and the required report to the Sector. No Local 41 member who paid dues directly to Local 41 since April 2022 has been credited with paying dues. This failure resulted in the automatic suspension of several Local 41 members.
Despite being instructed that the Local President cannot and should not write checks from the Local’s checking account – that is a role only the Treasurer can perform – the former Local President wrote and signed checks with no second signer. In fact, records show that dozens of checks were written with only a single officer’s signature when it is absolutely essential that there should be two signatures for all checking account transactions. There are other reasons, but these are the main reasons why the Sector acted as it did by imposing the temporary trusteeship.
Question: When the Sector conducts the new election, are the candidates limited to those who ran for office the last time?
Answer: No, it will be a new election. The term of office for the newly-elected officers will end in March 2025, in accordance with the Bylaws.