In his two debates with Fernando Ferrer, Mayor Bloomberg touted his endorsements by Democrats and city unions while one of the largest labor players, DC 37, was embroiled in a struggle between leadership and members sparked by the leadership’s endorsement of the mayor without delegate approval. In response, members are demanding a change in the constitution to allow each member a direct vote for who is on the leadership council, thereby making such endorsements less possible.
The efforts led to a surreal scene at last Tuesday’s meeting. Mitchell Fedder of Local 175 made a motion to put back into the minutes a motion by Veronica Cooper of Local 372 about having the delegates decide on the endorsement rather than the council. In the official record her motion had been censored. The council called for a vote to re-introduce the motion into the minutes. The yeas and the nays sounded about even. But presiding officer Veronica Montgomery-Castle declared, “The nays have it.” The room booed, and Fedder asked, “How can you vote on something that happened?” Montgomery replied, “We just did.”
The leadership council tried to toss parliamentary procedure out the window a second time when the vote came up on the constitutional change regarding electing officers. (In the current system, members vote for delegates who then vote for the officers of the council.)
The council called for a voice vote until a member reminded them that any constitutional change needs a two-thirds majority and a clear tally. “We need to have a roll call vote!” he demanded.
As the delegates went to the microphone to give the number of votes, cheers and catcalls could be heard. The measure—an attempt at direct democracy—failed with 43 percent in favor and 57 percent opposed.
Some on the losing end still saw in the night an important turning point. A member who did not want his name divulged said, “Even though I was depressed by the vote; others thought it was good because opponents didn’t think we’d be that close.”