November 4, 2004: When the votes were counted on October 16 in 12,000-member Chicago Local 743, TDUer Richard Berg of the New Leadership Slate had upset incumbent President Robert Walston by seven votes. There were 188 unresolved challenged ballots, but many of them came from workers at Silver Capital, a shop that was solidly behind New Leadership, so the outcome looked clear.
On October 18, the day before the challenges were to be resolved, local officials sprang their trick: They suddenly decided the election was flawed, and ordered a new one just as the final votes were to be tallied.
“We had filed numerous protests,” Berg told us, “but they dismissed all of them. But when we won despite all their violations, they decided to grant one of our protests and order a new election.”
James Hoffa upheld the “vote till you get it right” trick. Hoffa has used this dirty trick often, but so far it has failed every time; members react against having their democratic vote tampered with. This is a new version of the undemocratic move, actually stopping the vote count to prevent a challenger from winning.
It will be up to the members of Local 743 to make sure that democracy prevails. They are up against wealthy incumbents who are spending tens of thousands of dollars and are experienced at dirty tricks. The ballots in the second election will be counted on Dec. 4.