BLET Members Voting on the Right to Vote

August 2, 2010: The ballots are out and BLET members are voting on whether or not they should keep the Right to Vote for their top officers. The ballots will be counted on Aug. 30.

Read the letter that Hugh Sawyer, President of BLET Division 316, sent to every member about this vote.

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

In 2006, the members of our union voted almost two-to-one for the Right to Vote.

Our first ever one-member, one-vote election is scheduled for this fall.

But now the members who opposed democracy and lost that vote are back again, trying to eliminate democratic elections in our union—before we ever get a chance to use it.

You can save the Right to Vote by voting No on the enclosed initiative.

Democracy and Accountability

Most BLET officers are honest and believe in the members. But under any system of government, there’s always the threat that some officials will use their office to benefit themselves—not the members.

The Right to Vote gives us the tools to hold our leaders accountable, punish officers who violate our trust, and root out corruption from our union.

Why should the members ever give up that right?

Who Should Decide?

In his letter proposing to eliminate democratic elections, K.B. Pinson, president of Division 236 says the initiative is “intended to restore representative democracy by returning the right to elect ND Officers to our Delegates to the 2010 National Division Convention.”

That doesn’t sound like representative democracy to me. Democracy means you get to elect who leads and represents you.

We have a representative democracy in the United States. You get to vote for your mayor, representatives, governor, and president.

So why not the leadership of the BLET?

Whose Vote Counts?

The opponents of democratic elections say that it’s better to let the delegates to BLET conventions pick our officers.

But the delegate system doesn’t represent all BLET members equally. Some delegates represent hundreds of members. Others represent less than a dozen.

But their votes count the exact same. That means members in larger divisions get less of a say about who should run our union.

Under a democratic election, every member’s vote counts just the same, no matter what division you come from.


Some of the people who are trying to take away your Right to Vote say they are opposed to democratic elections because the majority of members don’t vote.

That’s just not true for all elections in our union. Just one example: the majority of members did vote on our merger with the Teamsters.

The majority of Americans don’t vote in every national election we have. But no one is talking about taking away our Right to Vote for our representatives in the United States.

I think we can all agree that we need more membership participation in our union—a lot more.

But taking away the Right to Vote does just the opposite. It sends a message to members that their voice doesn’t count. That’s the wrong message.


The cost of the balloting process is a fraction of the cost of a full Convention day that could be potentially saved. After all, how much is this initiative ballot costing?

Informed Vote

Much has been made about an uninformed membership. In the 21st century, each member will have access to all candidates’ web sites via the BLET website. This makes it easy for the membership to get the information they need to make a sober, rational decision on who they want to represent their issues at the national level.

Vote No

What can you do to save your Right to Vote? Vote No on the enclosed ballot and send it in right away. And tell other members to Vote No.

Together we can save democracy in our union.


Hugh L. Sawyer Jr. President, Div

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