AFSA Election 2011: This is what happens after a food fight

The Food Fight Bowl Trophy (left) and the Ulti...Image via WikipediaThe instructions for the AFSA 2011 election has now been posted online here. It says in part:

“Pursuant to an agreement between AFSA and the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), AFSA is conducting a new election for officers and members of its Governing Board under the supervision of the Secretary of Labor. The U.S. Department of Labor-OLMS is responsible for assuring that the election is conducted in accordance with Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). […] Additional discussion and possible modifications will occur in a pre-election conference to be held in January of 2011. Additional details regarding the pre-election conference will be provided in the future. There will also be a meeting with candidates on February 11, 2011 (see section 7 below) where the Instructions will be further discussed. After all comments and suggestions have been considered, the Final Instructions will be posted.

The AFSA 2011 Governing Board Election page is here with the important dates and contact info.

We have excerpted below the sections that we found most interesting from the instructions:

“It should be clearly understood that all phases of the AFSA election of 2011 are subject to U.S.  Department of Labor, OLMS, supervision. No aspect may be conducted without prior consultation with and approval by the OLMS Election Supervisor or her designated representatives.”

Who is that?

See item #2

2. Election Supervisor

OLMS Investigator Alison Dunn has been appointed Election Supervisor and has authority and responsibility for implementing all aspects of the election. All questions, correspondence or protests should be directed to her at the following address:

Election Supervisor Alison Dunn
U.S. Department of Labor, OLMS
Washington District Office
800 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 120
Washington, DC 20002-4244
Phone: (202) 513-7314
Fax: (202) 513-7301

The authority of the Election Supervisor was set forth in Brennan v. Local 551 United Auto Workers (486 F.2d 6, 7th Circuit 1973) in which the Court stated:

If the Union, or its incumbent leadership, or any other interested party wishes to object to any action taken by the Secretary in his supervisory capacity, that party assumes a heavy burden of persuasion and proof. If there is procedural irregularity (such as complete lack of any opportunity to object or explain), evidence of bias, or if the Secretary’s action is manifestly arbitrary, such an interested party may be able to demonstrate that judicial intervention in advance of the election is necessary. Otherwise, generally speaking, the Secretary’s decision taken in his supervisory capacity must be heeded . . .

12. Emails

AFSA’s election constitutes internal union business. Federal and agency policy prohibits the use of official time or agency or union resources, such as photocopying machines, email, or facsimiles, for internal union business. However, the Department of State and the other foreign affairs agencies have agreed to permit the transmission of three (3) “blast” email messages to those AFSA members who have given AFSA email addresses ending in .gov.

A. Any candidates and/or slates that wish to participate in the three (3) authorized email transmissions to the Department of State and the other foreign affairs agencies may include statements or appeals to voters in these messages and should submit them to the Elections Committee and the Election Supervisor (by e-mail to and no later than the following dates:

Message 1 – March 3, 2011

Message 2 – March 24, 2011
Message 3 – April 14, 2011

Candidates whose material does not reach the Committee by 5 p.m. EST on these dates will not be included in the email. Campaign material sent in these three (3) authorized email transmissions to US Government email addresses must be in good taste and not contain scurrilous language. The Elections Committee and the Election Supervisor reserve the right to remove any material deemed inappropriate. Material submitted by individual candidates must not exceed 150 words per message; material submitted by a slate must not exceed 300 words.

In addition, AFSA will send an identical email to its members who have given AFSA their personal email addresses, i.e., non-governmental addresses. Candidates should be aware that not all AFSA members have given a private, non-employer-supplied email address to AFSA, and therefore an AFSA email will not reach all members.

Candidates, their supporters, and all other persons must refrain from sending or forwarding campaign-related e-mail from or to e-mail addresses provided by any employer, except through AFSA as described above. This use of e-mail would violate Federal law governing union officer elections. Campaign-related e-mail may be sent from private, non-employer-supplied e-mail addresses to private, non-employer-supplied e-mail addresses.

B. Candidates may also have AFSA (via an AFSA-selected private vendor) send out campaign emails to all private, non-union or employer supplied e-mail addresses of AFSA members, or to particular constituencies within AFSA, for a fee. Candidates should be aware that not all AFSA members have given a private non-union or nonemployer supplied email address to AFSA, and therefore these e-mails will not reach all members.

The cost of conducting one of these private, non-union or employer supplied e-mailings to AFSA members will be provided at a later date. Any requests for this e-mailing should be directed to Janet Hedrick, Director of Member Services, 703-203-9002;; or the Election Supervisor.

13. Campaign Restrictions

LMRDA Section 401(g) prohibits the use of any union or employer funds or resources to promote the candidacy of any person in a union officer election. This prohibition applies to cash, facilities, equipment (including copiers, computers, printers, and e-mail), vehicles, office supplies, newsletters and other publications, and any other financial or in-kind resources of AFSA and any other union, and of any employers, whether or not they employ AFSA members. Union officers and employees may not campaign on time paid for by the union or by any employer.

As stated in (12) above, candidates, their supporters, and all other persons must refrain from sending campaign-related e-mail from or to e-mail addresses provided by any union or employer. This use of e-mail violates Federal law governing union officer elections. Campaign-related email may be sent from private, non-employer supplied e-mail addresses to private, non-employer supplied e-mail addresses. The same applies to the use of employer or union telephones topromote a candidacy. Campaign-related phone calls may be made from private, non-employersupplied phone/phone numbers to private, non-employer-supplied phone/phone numbers.

The AFSA on-line membership directory and the AFSA Retiree Directory are the property of AFSA and as such the use of these resources for campaign purposes is strictly prohibited.

Federal law provides that candidates must be treated equally regarding the opportunity to campaign.

Candidates and their supporters are required to observe all applicable employer regulations when posting campaign notices or placing campaign literature in public locations and to respect materials placed in public locations in support of opposing candidacies.

Candidates can make campaign calls, provided that they use a personal list to make those calls from a personal cell phone or home phone.

You must campaign on your own time. If you are within working hours with your employer or the union, you should not be campaigning.

If you campaign to members, they should be on their own time. They should not be within working hours with the employer or the union.

Candidates must keep all receipts for campaign purchases (including copies of campaign literature) to demonstrate that they paid full market price for all products and services.

Candidates must keep track of all campaign donations to prove that all funds contributed to their campaigns were from private individuals – as opposed to unions or employers.

Section 401(e) provides that members may not be subjected to penalty, discipline, or improper interference or reprisal of any kind in the exercise of their right to support the candidate of their choice.

If you witness any candidate, potential candidate, member, or anyone else engaging in this type of activity IMMEDIATELY contact the Election Supervisor and the AFSA Elections Committee and provide a detailed description of what occurred. See Sections (1) and (2) for contact information.

14. Campaign Meetings and Online Forums

The Elections Committee is willing to organize campaign meetings, if sufficient interest is shown, in each constituency (one for active duty employees in each agency, plus one for retirees).

Candidates can express their views on this at the February 11, 2011, meeting. Candidates or slates may also organize their own meetings. A section of the AFSA web site will be made available for online discussion forums. Each slate and candidate will be given a forum area to post statements and respond to questions from members. Slates will be asked to assign one member of the slate as the point of contact for management of the forum. Candidates and forum participants will be required to follow the forum guidelines as posted on the AFSA web forum page. AFSA reserves the right to remove any posted material deemed inappropriate.

15. Use of AFSA Resources

A. During the election period, from now through June 10, 2011, AFSA staff and resources, including its website, publications and communications, are not to be used to support or oppose any candidate or slate (other than the 3 AFSA-distributed “blast” emails described in Section 12, above).

B. To implement this policy, the U.S. Department of Labor will screen all written and electronic communications between AFSA and any significant portion of its membership, including, but not limited to, the September 2010 – May 2011 issues of the Foreign Service Journal, AFSA News, and the AFSA Letter (for retired members) prior to publication.

C. AFSA representatives at posts abroad, when acting in their capacity as AFSA representatives, must scrupulously avoid actions tending to favor one candidate over another. Specifically, they have been instructed in that capacity to reject any requests to distribute or post campaign literature for candidates and must return such material to the requester. There are no restrictions on activities of AFSA representatives when they are clearly acting in their personal capacities as individual AFSA members on their own time.

D. AFSA staff have been directed to avoid any action that gives advantage to one candidate over another, and to deal with candidates only as instructed by the Elections Committee.

E. Any concern regarding use of AFSA publications and communications, or of AFSA staff and resources, should be brought to the attention of the Election Supervisor and the Elections Committee See Sections (1) and (2) for contact information.

Active links added above.  This is not quite as embarrassing as an election re-do but it is pretty close. Read the full set of instructions here.

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