The Dept. of Labor has spelled out a series of steps it’s taking to ensure the upcoming WGA West presidential election meets federal regulations.
Three officials with the department met Wednesday evening with about 40 Guild members to respond to queries about the election, which will be held to fill the one year left in the term of former prexy Victoria Riskin. The feds agreed in March to supervise the contest in order to resolve complaints over how last year’s election was conducted.
Key points announced at the three-hour confab, which was a members-only event held at WGA West headquarters:
- The department will monitor every step of the election, which will conclude Sept. 21, including mailings, Guild publications, voter eligibility, preparation of ballots and returned ballots.
- Members can contact the department directly rather that going through the WGA West.
- There will be an automatic recount if the difference in votes is less than 1%.
- There will be a 10-day protest period after the election concludes with the department investigating all protests.
- Candidates will be allowed to inspect the membership list.
- The WGA West governance committee will revamp Meet the Candidates night to make it more attractive to members. The date for the event has not been set.
- The governance committee is working on methods of transmitting campaign literature via e-mail.
- Candidate statements will be posted on the WGA West Web site along with links to their campaign sites.
- The department will attempt to ensure the election’s conducted according to the WGA West constitution.
Jeffrey Gitomer, director of the L.A. district Office of Labor-Management Standards, conducted the session along with Labor Dept. senior investigator Michael Miller and elections supervisor Eugene Guza. Both candidates for president, Eric Hughes and current Daniel Petrie Jr., were present along with WGA West general counsel Marshall Goldberg.
One member criticized the WGA West staff for not making a greater effort to notify members about the meeting.
The WGA West agreed to the Labor Dept. oversight in March after department investigators found Riskin’s election to a two-year term last fall was invalid. Riskin had been ineligible to run because she had not worked under the WGA contract for the previous four years.
That investigation had been prompted by a complaint from Hughes’ campaign manager Ron Parker over how last year’s election was conducted, including allegations the WGA West staff unlawfully helped Riskin conceal her ineligibility and promoted Riskin while undermining Hughes.
Steven Kaplan, an attorney for Hughes and Parker, said he was heartened by the steps to make sure the election is well-publicized and fair. “The Guild is doing more than it legally has to and I believe it’s doing so in response to pressure from members due to Ron’s protest,” he added.
The Dept. of Labor reps also said they would supervise the presidential election only, and not the concurrent contests for VP and eight board seats.