12/7/2022: Judicial Panel Case NO. 22-117: Local 714 Eligibility Challenge and Election Protest

Afscme international has provided their written decision regarding the local 714 election protest and eligibiility challenge.

The 20 page document has been uploaded below for you to read in full.

Here is the summary of the alleged violations and the decision from AFSCME International.

There were 6 alleged violations included in the protest.  After each description of the alleged violation, I have put what the outcome was.

1. The protestant alleges that on the morning of the election, Election Committee Member David Forsyth authored emails attacking her character. She stated that despite his behavior, he was permitted to continue serving on the Election Committee and allowed to count votes. Brother Rohan Brown added that he believed Brother Forsyth was upset because he and Sister Rice did not contact him directly about doing a site visit at his workplace for the purposes of campaigned, but rather sought permission directly from management. Further elaboration was provided under protest item 4. 

  • OUTCOME: In item number 1 of her protest, Sister Rice alleges that Brother David Forsyth wrote emails attacking her character because he was upset that she did not contact him prior to setting up a campaign site visit at his work location. Upon hearing the statements provided and reviewing the email exchange in question, the undersigned is convinced that this protest item was a squabble between Sister Rice, Brother Brown, and Brother Forsyth and had no bearing on the conduct of the election or its outcome. This item of protest is dismissed, consistent with the Election Committee's Report.

2. According to Sister Rice, Election Committee Member Michael Stebe had problem with her and sent an email asking her and vice president candidate Rohan Brown to drop out of the race. She stated that despite his behavior he too was permitted to continue serving on the Election Committee and allowed to count votes. Brother Brown elaborated stating that Brother Stebe was upset over an email that he had sent, the same email sent by Local President Jay Bartolomei; however, he highlighted their slate and included other issues he felt the members needed to be made aware of. Brother Brown further noted that state law permits use of the employer's email to send such an email and prior to sending it, he received permission from management to send the email in question using the work email system. 

  • OUTCOME:  In summaryitem 2 deals with a campaign email sent by Sister Rice's running mate Brother Rohan Brown using the employer's email, item 4 deals with campaign activities in the worksite, and items 5a and 5b deal with campaign publications. Appendix D - Elections Code contained in the International Constitution states under Section 1: A. "No funds or other resources of the Federation or of any subordinate body, and no funds or resources of any employer, shall be used to support the candidacy of any member for any elective office. B. No publication sponsored by or supported by the Federation or any subordinate body shall endorse or support any candidate for elective office within the Federation or any subordinate body." While the protestant is of the opinion that a state law permitted the use of the employer's email system to circulate campaign-related messages, her opinion is incorrect. The International Constitution, in line with federal law, prohibits the use of the employer's resources of any member who is a candidate for any elective office. While Brother Stebe's call for Sister Rice and Brother Brown to denounce their candidacy was to the extreme, the explanation contained in his email was indeed accurate. This part of the protest is upheld, consistent with the Election Committee's Report, which warrants a re-run of the election.

 3. In protest item number 3, Sister Rice asserts that Brother Rohan Brown overheard Brother Michael Stebe say to Brother Richard Woo he should, "drop a box and make them do a recount." In her opinion the statement proves how Brother Stebe feels about them. Brother Brown corroborated Sister Rice's account of what he [Brown] had told her. 

  • OUTCOME: In item 3 of the protest, Sister Rice stated that Brother Brown had told her that he overheard Brother Stebe suggest to Brother Woo that if the ballot box were dropped, they would be forced to do a recount. Brother Brown gave the same account during the hearing. Brother Stebe stated that when he was leaving, he told Brother Woo that a recount was underway because one of the ballot boxes did not add up. There was nothing presented in this item that rises to the level of a violation of the Elections Code. Therefore, this item of protest is denied, consistent with the Election Committee's report.

 4. The protestant alleges that Sister Sarah Barr harassed Brother Rohan Brown and her while campaigning at the Social Services Office in Bridgeport. She stated that Sister Barr was following them around the building harassing them and making comments such as, "You can't walk around, you are supposed to be in the cafeteria. You are breaking the rules." They repeatedly asked her to stop but she continued her inappropriate behavior and threatened to call management. Sister Rice noted that the Election Committee agreed that the incident occurred, but they believed Sister Barr's statement in that it only occurred in the elevator and not throughout the building. In support of Sister Rice's protest, Brother Rohan Brown stated that he sent emails to management in the thirteen buildings he and Sister Rice planned to visit. His emails established the dates and times for their campaign visits. While visiting the buildings they would generally set up in the cafeteria area for approximately 15 minutes and then would walk around the building and speak with members at their work areas. Brother Brown corroborated Sister Rice's account of their encounter with Sister Barr. 

  • OUTCOMERegarding item 4, while it is hard to determine exactly when and where campaigning was occurring in the worksite, it is clear from statements made during the investigative hearing that at some point in time candidates, including those in opposition to this protest, were actively campaigning to their coworkers on the "shop floor" during work hours. This too constitutes the use of the employer's resources and is a violation of the Elections Code. Further, based on an excerpt of an article that appeared on ctschoollaw.com entitled, "New Obligations for Connecticut Public Employers With Respect to Union Accessshared with the undersigned by Brother Brown following the investigative hearing, the article clearly notes that, while public employers must provide unions with access to the public employees that they represent, it is clear that the worksite meetings must be conducted "before and after the workday and during meal periods and other paid or unpaid breaks." Regardless of if the interaction between Sister Rice, Brother Brown and Sister Barr occurred on the elevator or in the work area, candidates on both sides of the ballot admitted that that they were campaigning during work hours which is a violation of the Section 1A of the Elections Code contained in Appendix D of the International Constitution. This part of the protest is upheld, consistent with the Election Committee's Report, which warrants a re-run of the election.

5. Protest item 5 has two sub-items related to alleged campaign violations: 

  • a. Sister Rice claims that Brother Wilfredo Medina, candidate for presidentand his running mates circulated a campaign flyer with the AFSCME logo on it giving the appearance of being endorsed by AFSCME. 
  • b. Sister Rice asserted that Council 4's Facebook page was used to support the candidacy of Brother Wilfredo Medina. It was initially thought that Brother Stebe posted the photo of an AFSCME T-shirt which "tagged" various members and candidate support pages, including  "MedinaCouncil4AFSCMEMedinaforPresidentofAFSCMELocal714@AFSCMElocal714" (image provided), but later learned it was a post accidently made by a staff member. 
  • OUTCOME: In items 5a and 5b of her protest, Sister Rice alleged improper use of Council 4's Facebook page and the AFSCME logo in support of Brother Medina's candidacy. Section 1B of the Elections Code is clear, "No publication sponsored by or supported by the Federation or any subordinate body shall endorse or support any candidate for elective office within the Federation or any subordinate body." The Judicial Panel has ruled in the past that the use of the AFSCME logo could be construed as an endorsement. While it is unclear to the undersigned who actually posted the endorsement of Brother Medina on Council 4's website, in reviewing the screenshot of the post, it clearly appeared to be just that, an endorsement. This part of the protest is upheld, consistent with the Election Committee's Report, which warrants a re-run of the election.

6. In protest item 6, Sister Rice asserts that Local 714 President Jay Bartolomei used his seat to give preferential treatment to Brother Wilfredo Medina and that both Brothers Bartolomei and Medina used their authority as Local officers to remove her from activities in which she was previously engaged, hence giving Brother Medina an unfair advantage. The allegations are discussed in the sub-items below: 

  • a. Sister Rice stated that she was not on the Local Executive Board at the time she received a call from President Bartolomei asking if she was interested in serving on the Contract Committee. She indicated that she was interested, and he told her that he would place her on the Committee. Later a meeting was held with the Board, and at the meeting Brother Bartolomei did not include her on the Committee. When she approached him about it, he stated that he forgot. He later met with the Board again and she was added to the Contract Committee as an alternate but was never able to participate because there was no need for an alternate to serve. She noted that Brother Medina, who replaced Brother Dwight Frederick as vice president effective November 1, 2021, could serve on the Contract Committee
  • b. Sister Rice declared that she is a union activist, including supporting other unions. She participated in the 1199 strike. Following her participationshe called President Bartolomei and requested that the Local support the striking workers by presenting them with a check. She expressed that she would return to support them and wanted to present the check to them on the Local's behalf. President Bartolomei stated that the donation was in the works." Later she saw on Council 4's Facebook page a photo of Brother Medina presenting the check to 1199 striking workers. She was not afforded the opportunity to join in presenting the check
  • c. In this sub-item, Sister Rice asserts that she was removed from the Gift Committee by President Bartolomei. She noted that the Gift Committee was charged with producing a gift to present to the Local's approximate 1,100 members. The Committee was also going to use this as an opportunity to organize more members and capture personal email addresses for the members. The Committee set up a special email address for the Gift Committee so that it would not be associated with any one individual and Sister Rice offered to remove her name from the Committee altogether so that it would not appear to give her an advantage during the campaign. Rather than allow the Committee to continue and complete their task, President Bartolomei shut it down and said the new Board would decide if and when the Gift Committee would continue their work
  • d. Sister Rice stated that the former Local Vice President Dwight Frederick allowed her to attend Labor Management Meetings with the Department of Social Services. However, when Brother Medina replaced Brother Frederick as Local 714 Vice President, she was no longer permitted to attend the meetings. When asked for a timeline, Sister Rice stated that she noticed the pattern of removal after she was hospitalized due to COVID but was still serving as Local Secretary. 
  • e. In her final sub-item, Sister Rice claims that the Election Committee would not permit her to see a breakdown of votes by section. She requested to see the numbers because they did not add up; perhaps it was because some people did not cast votes for each office. When she originally made the request, Election Committee Cochair Lois Brodeur told her that they were not required to show her the breakdown of the numbers. She later said she would check with the International Union. Sister Brodeur told her that there was no policy that prohibited her from seeing the number of votes cast by each office but that she (Rice) would have to follow the process to see the details inside the box, so she filed the protest. She noted that she still has not seen the numbers. 
  • OUTCOMEItem 6 of the protest is a compilation of what Sister Rice believes to be preferential treatment towards Brother Medina. She further believes that Brothers Bartolomei and Medina used their authority as Local officers to remove her from activities in which she was previously engaged, hence giving Brother Medina an unfair advantage. There were reasonable explanations provided to justify the actions of the Local President (Bartolomei) and Vice President (Medina). The undersigned is not convinced that the actions described in the protest impacted the election outcome. Therefore, this item of the protest is denied, consistent with the Election Committee's Report.


Turning to the matter of the eligibility challenge, it is clear that no one challenged Sister Rice's standing with the Local during the nomination and election process held in June or with the Election Committee in accordance with Appendix D, Section 4A of the AFSCME Constitution. This provision states, "Any member of a local union or any council delegate may challenge the eligibility of any nominee by filing such challenge with the Election Committee prior to the holding of the election." The Judicial Panel has consistently held that if the challenge is not made prior to the election, it cannot be consideredIn this case, the challenge was not made until some point during the Election Committee's investigation of Sister Rice's protest filed after the election. As such, the Committee's determination is untimely and is dismissed. Sister Rice is deemed an eligible candidate. 

Protest items 1, 3 and 6 are denied. Protest items 2, 4 and 5 are upheld for the reasons described above. The Local is directed to hold a re-run election within 45 days of this decision. In addition, Sister Kimberly Rice is deemed eligible to run and is to be included on the ballot unless she officially withdraws her candidacy. 

The whole report can be read by clicking on the link below:

Judicial Panel Case NO. 22-117: Local 714 Eligibility Challenge and Election Protest