Rebutting the BTU Leadership’s Scare Tactics to Keep Voting Inaccessible
Since successfully submitting over 840 petition signatures from educators around the city demanding more accessible means of voting on contracts and union leadership, the Baltimore Teachers Union Leadership has fought tooth and nail against the voices of its own membership. Below we will tackle their misleading claims about our constitutional amendment point by point.
1. Our current method of voting is “effective”!
DEMONSTRABLY FALSE. It is a shocking thing to say that a system yielding votes where 94% of its membership did not or could not participate is “effective”. It is effectively undemocratic to limit voting to a single workday, at limited locations, and limited hours.
In Chicago, Teachers Union votes regularly garner over 80% turnout. There are multiple other proven methods we can copy in Baltimore which would produce far superior results.
2. BMORE’s amendment for Mail-in voting will “eliminate the voice of all our members”
FALSE + HYPOCRITICAL. Our current voting method’s best performance in the past three years eliminated over 4 out of every 5 membership voices. Meanwhile BMORE’s proposal is already standard operating procedure in many cities including New York and Philly, where the last mail-in election had over 6x the turnout of the BTU’s last contract/AFT convention vote.
It is far easier to open an envelope with paid postage sent to your home, fill it out, and put it back in the mail over an extended time period than to drive on a single workday to an inconvenient location without childcare, and wait in line for an unknown amount of time to vote in person. The numbers prove this without a doubt.
3. Members can already vote by mail!
MISLEADING. Mail-in balloting is currently allowed at the discretion of the Executive Board. We’d be delighted if the Executive Board chose to exercise this power, however, they haven’t, and more importantly, the basic right to an accessible vote shouldn’t be subject to the whim of the Executive Board, it should be automatically given. There’s a huge difference in effort to individually request an absentee/mail-in ballot vs. that being done without effort every year, every vote, for everyone.
4. Online voting is insecure and members don’t have internet access!
As BCPSS employees we are already expected to check our email daily as part of our professional responsibilities. The few members who don’t have a single phone, tablet, or computer at home are able to use the internet at our worksites. Borrowing a friend’s phone in a pinch is far easier than a car and childcare.
Online voting would be run and verified by an outside vendor that the BTU would contract with. These vendors are approved by the National Labor Relations Board and they are required to be impartial and secure.
Our amendment says, “…voting by mail-in balloting OR, IF MEMBERS CHOOSE, secure online voting.” [emphasis mine]. Approving this amendment DOES NOT immediately start online voting. It would only be created IF members choose that option at a later time. We can stick solely with mail-in ballots until concerns are resolved.
5. Approving this amendment eliminates your ability to vote in person!
BMORE supports making voting the most accessible process possible. We are ready and willing to offer amending language that would solidify a hybrid system of BOTH in-person and mail-in voting. It’s possible that leadership attempts to block this effort, in which case, we remain steadfast that mail-in voting now, and secure online voting later are far superior methods of making membership voices heard than our current failing system.