Election Challenge
Chapter 282 President's Email Letter to Chapter Members

Dear Colleague,

This afternoon some members of NTEU Chapter 282 received an email from Ms. Molly Harkin, Office of Labor-Management Standards at the U.S. Department of Labor. Ms. Harkin is investigating the October 19, 2004, Chapter election which overwhelmingly elected the current officers.

Here is the history of this situation. After receiving a complaint from one or more of the defeated candidates in the October election, National NTEU conducted a four month investigation. National NTEU President Colleen Kelley found nothing wrong, illegal or questionable about the conduct of the election. The defeated candidate(s) decided to appeal to the unionís National Executive Committee. The NEC unanimously upheld President Kelleyís decision. (Under NTEU By-laws the name(s) of the complaining candidate(s) is/are not made public by the union.)

Next, the U.S. Department of Labor received a complaint alleging the same charges from Mr. Richard (Dick) Arkin, a defeated candidate for Executive Vice President last October. Under the law his complaint automatically triggered an investigation by DOL. The email inquiry you received from Ms. Harkin is part of DOLís investigatory process.

Thus far each candidate on the October, 2004 ballot has been interviewed separately by NTEU and the Department of Labor. Others including the chairman of the Elections Committee, who is a retired steward, were also interviewed.

Now the Department is writing directly to you and asking for your observations. Important note: Membership lists are never made available to outsiders by our National union. Individualsí privacy is important to us. Somehow the email list which we use to notify you of Lunch and Learns, fast breaking news items, union events and notices was shared with the Department of Labor without the unionís prior consent. I have asked the Labor Department for an explanation and I will share it with you when I receive their reply.

In answer to several of your inquiries, it is completely up to you if you wish to respond to Ms. Harkinís email. You are under no obligation to do so but you may choose to share your observations and experience with this process.

Our union has had three elections since it was certified to represent all bargaining unit employees at FDA in 1998. It is a responsibility all the officers and stewards take very seriously.

Since taking office in late October, our new chapter leadership retained professionals to audit chapter books, created an Audit Committee, filed tax reports and Department of Labor (LM-3) reports on time and in good order. We are proud of our record and are pledged to continue this way.

Currently, we are preparing ourselves for national contract talks with FDA later this year. We are forging more cooperative efforts with Center leadership. We are training our stewards so NTEU will have a world class cadre of union representatives working on your behalf.

This is a new era for NTEU 282 and you. As you know, federal employees are under increased pressure to have their on-the-job flexibilities limited and their rights to appeal eliminated. Your union is standing fast on your behalf at FDA and on Capitol Hill.

Within the next 30 days you will receive the first of periodic mailings updating you on this chapterís efforts and progress. We hope you will read the material and let your union representatives know what you think.

I hope this message explains the current situation clearly. If you would like to discuss this, please feel free to call me or meet with me.

Letís continue to work together to attain NTEUís goal of a workplace that is fair and respectful of all of its federal employees.

Thank you.


Bernice Friedlander
NTEU Chapter 282

May 6, 2005