Trust Us, We Won

Why are contract ratification vote totals such a big secret?

Interesting item in Monday's Midland Daily News: faculty members at Central Michigan University want to know what the totals were after a vote to ratify a new contract, but the union isn't saying.

Negotiations had been contentious, with the university taking a firm line in negotiations and staff at CMU briefly going on strike. The Central Michigan University Faculty Association announced that a contract had been agreed to and ratified last week. The union announced that three-quarters of its membership had voted in the election, but is refusing to release the actual vote totals.

Some CMU faculty find the secretiveness disconcerting. "This is the kind of sneakiness and secrecy that we expect from the administration, not from our union leaders," journalism Professor John Hartman wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to CMU faculty.

But these sorts of shenanigans are not unheard of in union elections, and Michigan labor law does not provide for any remedies when union officials refuse to hold proper votes on things like contract ratifications. Union officials may claim that their organizations are democratic, but they don't always follow through by holding fair, open elections. 

That's something to keep in mind as the union establishment gears up for a campaign to try to repeal the state's emergency financial manager law, in which it will drone on and on about the sanctity of democracy.