Open Letter: MTA Members Should Vote ‘No’ on the MEPAF Referendum

By Robert Lavoie

At the last reps’ meeting, the executive of the MTA made it quite clear that their plan is to take the MEPAF money and use it to bolster the contingency fund that has arguably been poorly managed and is shrinking (from 352,000$ in 2008 to just over 120,000$). I am not entirely opposed to the transfer of this money to the MTA. However, I have some reservations about the process as well as the functionality.

The issue that I have with the process is that I have a hard time associating myself with what comes across as a less than honest act. The language that was used at the reps’ meeting and in the memo sent by Ruth portrays the MTA as employing ‘truthiness’. The line taken is that, as long as we SAY that we are going to administer the funds as they were before, we are legally in the right but that our intention is basically to use up this money in the contingency fund. But the MTA is not proposing administering the funds on behalf of only those MTA members that contributed to MEPAF. It is proposing mixing the MEPAF money into its existing contingency fund.

I think that it is important at this point to bring up the probable scenario of the day when all of the money received from MEPAF has been spent and our contingency fund is empty, and somebody applies for a MEPAF loan but there is no money to lend. What do we tell this unfortunate person whose money we have spent? Will (s)he sue us? Conversely, when the money is used up and the contingency fund is empty, how will non-MEPAF members of the MTA feel about potentially having to contribute more money to the MTA to bolster the contingency fund…so that we can give loans to
MEPAF people?

The contingency fund is an account that can be used at the discretion of the president, the treasurer and another member of the executive. I feel strongly that a close-knit trio of people whose decisions are shrouded in a cloak of secrecy is a bad formula for overseeing large amounts of money: other people’s money. It is important to remember that the executive of the MTA has shown itself to be hostile towards the sharing of financial documents with the membership. The scenarios for abuse are limitless.

Even if Ruth is worthy of the blind trust that many MTA reps have declared towards her, some day another person will be president of the union and the existence of such a structure invites abuse, leaving the question not ‘if’ but ‘when’ will it happen.

It is for these reasons that I am proposing that we vote no in the upcoming referendum.


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