By Robert Green
In part one of this series I explained that the first reason I am once again running for MTA president is that little has changed in the last year with respect to the union’s partisan leadership style. MTA members need a union leadership that is respectful of diverse views and committed to encouraging participation.
An equally important reason that my hat is in the ring this year is that there has also been little change on the question of financial transparency and respect for the MTA’s constitution.
Once again this year a member has requested to see the union’s Visa statements. Once again the member is being denied. This should be a matter of great concern to every member of the MTA because, after all, this is our money we’re talking about. We need an MTA leadership that will run the union according to the highest standards of financial transparency. More than that we need an MTA leadership with nothing to hide!
However this is about much more than financial transparency. It is about whether or not the union’s constitution is respected. Mr Sutherland insists that his actions do not violate the constitution because he has convinced his loyal followers in the reps assembly that it is within their power to “interpret” the constitution. This argument might hold water if there was anything vague or unclear about the wording in the constitution.
In this case the constitution is extremely clear; it states that it is the duty of the Treasurer “at all reasonable times to exhibit the books and accounts to any member of the Association”. The fact that a provision so clearly intended to guarantee financial transparency is being “interpreted” in such a way as to deny members access to financial statements illustrates the extent to which Mr Sutherland believes himself to be above any form of accountability.
This has been further illustrated by changes to election procedures Mr. Sutherland has recently unilaterally declared. Whereas in every past MTA election each member has received a copy of each candidate’s CV, this time, without any motion from either the Nominations Committee or the Reps Assembly, Sutherland has decided to “interpret” the electoral procedures in such a way that the CV’s will not be sent to each member. He would have us believe that this is being done to save on printing. Regardless of the motive, the end is result is fewer members reading this information.
By ‘interpreting’ its electoral regulations such that the French translation of a candidate’s statement must appear on the same side of the same page as the English version (instead of on the back, which the wording of the regulation seems to suggest) the MTA’s leadership has already limited candidates for the presidency to a statement of about 500 words. The CV’s were at least one other way members could inform themselves about the strengths of each candidate. Now even that has been taken away, not by a change of the regulation but by one person’s decision to ‘interpret’ the existing regulation as he sees fit.
Like his predecessor Mr Sutherland is running the MTA not as a union but as his own private fiefdom. He can spend our money as he sees fit and without scrutiny. He can respect only those rules he likes and “interpret” those he doesn’t. If there is information he doesn’t want the members to know, he can take action to prevent it from reaching us.
Sadly the MTA has no judicial board one can appeal to when the rules are being violated and power is being abused. Only the members voting in election can bring this badly needed accountability. I am running for MTA president so that members have a choice for an MTA that respects its own rules and acts according to the highest standard of financial transparency.
To learn more about my candidacy check my campaign website http://rgreen.freeshell.org. If the program I am proposing looks like the kind of change you would like to see in your union please help spread the word by talking to your colleagues, printing articles to leave in your staff room or sharing articles on social media. Most importantly be sure to vote on Wednesday May 21st. Change cannot happen on its own. We the members need to make it happen!