For decades, the AFM Bylaws have been very specific and clear about the ratification procedure for collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). The integrity of the voting process has been given the highest priority so that bargaining unit members can have confidence in the election process. Additionally, protecting the identity of the voter is imperative, allowing them to vote their conscience without the worry of employer retaliation or member-to-member pressure.
As technology has made electronic voting possible, many members have expressed a desire for locals to conduct electronic CBA ratification voting. Up until the recent AFM Convention, the International Executive Board had been reluctant to endorse electronic voting until such time as locals could ensure the integrity of the process. It was also felt that an in-person ratification meeting just prior to a vote was invaluable, allowing bargaining unit members to ask questions, discuss the terms of the proposed agreement with their colleagues, and hear the recommendations from their local officers and elected rank-and-file committee. In-person voting also motivates members to physically come to the union hall, which is always a good thing. Too often, the only time some members visit the union hall is to pay their dues. In-person voting provides one more connection to the local.
For years, voting by mail ballot has co-existed with in-person ratification voting. Mail ballot was never the preferred method of voting, however, some bargaining units have members who live great distances from the union hall. For these members, in-person voting could present an undue hardship and expense that would effectively disenfranchise them.
While the bylaws now allow in-person, mail ballot, or electronic ratification voting, the requirement remains that all voting must be done one way (either all in-person, all mail ballot, or all electronic). Voting cannot be a combination of two or three methods.
The bylaw passed at the last AFM Convention in 2016 (Article 5, Section 32(d)) allows electronic ratification voting with very specific restrictions. The new bylaw for ratification by electronic balloting states, in part:
SECTION 32(d). Ratification by Electronic Balloting
- If it is necessary to hold a ratification by an electronic balloting method (e.g. online, telephone), then all voting shall be done by electronic balloting, provided that ratification by electronic balloting has been authorized by the Local’s bylaws or action of the Local’s Executive Board, and provided that the Local selects an independent organization approved by the International President’s Office to conduct the voting. In all cases, the method of voting must (1) ensure that the member casting the vote is eligible to do so, (2) ensure that the member casting the vote cannot be identified with the vote cast, and (3) afford sufficient safeguards to protect the integrity and security of the voting system. Further, in the case of electronic balloting, an appropriate accommodation must be made for a voter who lacks the technology or equipment necessary to cast his or her vote.
iii. The International President’s Office shall maintain a list of one or more vendors whose electronic balloting services meet the requirements set forth in this Section.
The President’s Office has determined that the following vendors offer services at affordable rates that meet the bylaw requirements for ratification by electronic balloting:
BallotPoint Election Services: http://www.ballotpoint.com/
Election America: http://election-america.com/
This list is subject to change. Please check with the President’s office before conducting electronic balloting to confirm that the vendor you intend to use is still on the list.