by Jeremy Dumont
It’s mock vote day here at Union School. I am attending the Local Officer Advanced Training Program (LOAT) at the beautiful Château Montebello. The writing is on the wall. Literally. My table is encouraging me to add my name to the list of candidates. As I consider adding my name on the very visible nomination form stuck to the wall with strips of green tape, the very first name up for my first choice is my fellow Chief Shop Steward at NHU Local 70008, Fred Geoffrion… also running for VP. I turn around and immediately look for Fred at his table and make eye contact — the two-eyes-on-you salute. We both smile: this exact scenario could very well play out next year for us when our current VP steps down due to retirement sometime in 2016.
It is certain that we both want the job. Fred and I have already discussed the matter before today’s exercise and agreed that the best candidate should win. So now, this exercise adds a bit of the drama to the mix. Why not? Let’s see how this plays out.
At first, I don’t know what I’m doing. I have people telling me to go out there and win some votes. Ok, then.
It played out rather organically, even before I had a chance to realize what I had gotten myself into. Before I know it, I’m shut out as VP from two other ‘slates’ that had already formed. I’ve become an independent. Cory Beauregard, another fellow Chief Shop Steward in my local, has just declared his independence. I continue to walk around, feeling rather sidelined, myself, but accepting the circumstances. Franck Binard, running for Secretary, becomes sidelined, himself. He takes it slightly personal, but runs with it. Slates can ruin elections, he says. To me, it’s sink or swim.
Franck proposes a loose alliance because of our mutual independent-status candidacy – vote freely, if you like – and, help break up the slate. This is the rule. Something isn’t sitting well with the slates for any of us.
After the class, we are outside and discussing Franck’s argument about slates and the concept of ‘best fit’. While discussing with other union school students our situation, Mark Imbeault proposes we try to bring in a contingent of other members from other classes. It sounds like a good idea, one that has been implemented in other elections, I’m told. Now, we try to lobby other classes at the union school to participate in the vote, which became an interesting exercise in the possibility of thinking outside the box.
All night we scheme. Speaking some more with Franck, Mark, and Jennifer, who was running as Treasurer (also as an ‘independent’), we somehow manage to run a sort of slate by the end of the night. What the heck is this?!
Franck asks: is this a case of ‘best fit’? Do the other candidates understand what they’ve signed up for and are they willing to step down if the other candidates in their slate lose? It was an interesting situation and definitely opened my eyes to the intricacies of the voting process: Slate vs. Non-slate and how the lines can be blurred.
In the end, what we didn’t consider was that our class now had become a local: Montebello Local 2015. Therefore, we now had a list of delegates and that was everyone in our class. This definitely put a crimp in our plans to get other students at the union school involved.
Independent candidate, Cory, wins the presidency and you can almost say he takes it to heart by starting an initiative to help keep Montebello’s pool and gym open longer into the evening by asking for donations from members to cover operating costs. It becomes quite the initiative with $300 raised. Enough to pay the hotel to keep the pool open longer, and also to give a generous tip to the pool attendant.