Friday, January 20, 2006

We should turn this job over to a Union.

Notice what you don't see any of in this story.

The New York Transit Workers, who just before Christmas engaged in a three day strike, voted on whether to accept a new contract. And despite the urging of union officials to accept the contract that was negotiated with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, they rejected it by seven votes, by a margin of 11,234 against to 11,227 in favor.

Now, there are plenty of recriminations floating around, and they are examined in the article. The point of this post is not to take a position about whether the contract was good or not, or whether the union should have rejected it or not, or whether the campaigning was above board or not, or whether Governor Pataki's threat to veto funds that were involved in a key part of the contract affected the vote, or not. I'm not taking a position on it because I really don't know enough about the specifics of the Transit Workers contract to take a position one way or another.

No, the point of this post is to look at what isn't in dispute. The vote count. This is an election in which thousands of votes were cast, the margin was seven votes, and no one is disputing it, or asking for a recount, or threatening to go to court over it, or challenging the legitimacy of a single vote that was cast, or leveling accusations of fraud or chicanery.

In fact, the reactions of the defeated proponents of the contract were decidedly muted.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the harshest critics of the three-day walkout in December, called the contract rejection "disappointing news to all New Yorkers." He urged both sides to return to the negotiating table.

and

[union President Roger] Toussaint blamed "downright lies" told by contract opponents for the ratification failure but said the union's leadership was ready to "go back to the drawing board" as soon as possible.

So the losers acknowlege losing and are ready to go back and work on putting together a better package.

Now, we saw that a few years ago, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were within a margin that percentage wise was even closer than this in the state of Florida, the Republican machinery which is in control in that state was engaged together with the national Republican machinery to make sure that the recount was never completed. And despite the HAVA, what we had last year was a system rife with disputed numbers, apparent errors, allegations of hacking and other vote fraud, and complaints. And today, the same problems still exist. And probably a number of local elections (maybe even statewide elections) will remain in doubt until well after the election. Some may end up in court, and whoever is eventually declared the winner, will not be the winner in the minds of those who supported their opponent.

And this is despite millions spent on new voting equipment.

I have a suggestion.

Let's turn elections over to a bunch of union guys. It looks like they can count the votes and get it right, so that no one questions even the closest elections.

3 comments:

Barbi said...

The rejected contract would have provided raises of 3 percent in the first year, then 4 percent and 3.5 percent in the following two years. But it would have required the workers for the first time to contribute 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health care premiums.

Well, (obviously) I don't know the details of this contract clause for health care, but I could guess that this paying a portion for health care is something that could be turned around on the union somehow, and into the employERs favor. One would have to know if it is based on pre or post tax wages, too. At any rate, I've seen how this came back to bite the union my hub belonged to. Once a company succeeds in gaining give-backs, they keep on going for more and more in every new contract, and the employEE ends up with a net loss. Especially with the rising costs of health care, those employEE contributions are likely to increase.

Nor do I know HOW this union cast or counted their votes, but with hub's union, for example, I do know that all ballots were put in numerically identified sealed envelopes ... so, I am in agreement that perhaps a union, and especially with a paper trail for votes, may be the best way to accurately tally the results! IN ANY ELECTION!!!

Eli Blake said...

Barbi:

It just seems clear to me that this proves that if you want to be able to count the votes in a way that there is no controversy and it is very clear what the results are, you can accomplish that. Obviously, this union can accomplish this (and I was once involved with a couple of union elections, and we were able to accomplish an accurate vote and count without any problems.) It isn't hard to get it right.

Therefore, the problems that we see with the voting system are not there because we can't fix them, but rather by purposeful design on the part of people who don't WANT them fixed. The people in power want to be able to cheat a little and fudge some of the results. And, as we know, the Republicans are in power and passed HAVA. Ergo, the Republicans want to have a window to manipulate election results. What other conclusion could you draw from this?

Barbi said...

Eli, I TOTALLY agree with you.

Especially since most all of the voting machines are made by big money Republican supporters. And are so easily hacked a monkey can do it.

The American voters have been had.

Vote absentee, leave a paper trail.