As our more experienced Chapter Leaders will recall, the term “credibility gap” arose in the 1960s to describe the large divide between reality, and the version of reality put forward by the government. It wasn’t long before the concept of a credibility gap was extended to cover anyone whose statements created a disconnect between words and actions.
Well, our National President has a credibility gap.
Recently, the incumbent held a series of conference calls with Chapter Leaders to address the loss of our battle to represent TSA workers. What was most striking about the calls were that they were the least contentious in memory, particularly since they concerned an issue that caused so much bitter disappointment. The official line was presented: The campaign was “classy,” “a class act,” etc. The workers that we were eager to represent were blamed for their poor judgment. None of the loyalists who spoke could find fault with our own leadership. The incumbent, of course, had to agree with this assessment. Years of struggle, sacrifice, and investment—including the sale of our National Headquarters—were met with an attitude of c’est la vie. As the National President put it, it was time for “moving on.”
The reason that the conference calls set a world record for brevity, clocking in at approximately 15 minutes for one, and 20 minutes for another, was that most Chapter Presidents no longer expect to hear candor from the leadership that failed to secure TSA support. No one had the energy to even pose a question. Still, the perfunctory treatment coming from the top was shocking. Apparently, the incumbent never considered apologizing for the defeat.
There is a post mortem on this website that raises many troubling issues concerning the TSA drive. There is also my very responsible proposal—the Chapter Rebate Plan—to give a bit back to the Chapters in gratitude for their contributions to the fight. (Check out both links below.)
Did the National President use the conference calls to make her own proposal for Chapter relief for the sacrifices made to TSA? No. The only promises made were to eliminate the extra personnel hired to recruit TSA support, and to return the reps borrowed from the Field Offices so that they can deliver the same service that they provided pre-TSA. (There are several posts regarding the Field Offices on this site already, but I’ll have more to say about that issue later. Keep on eye on this space.)
As Joe Davidson of The Washington Post wrote, “Colleen M. Kelley led her National Treasury Employees Union in a close, hard-fought election campaign to represent Transportation security officers. But she lost. Now her critics say that last week’s defeat will be a significant issue in her reelection effort…Clearly it was a huge loss…wouldn’t it be odd if such a big defeat had no impact?”
Well, the incumbent’s response to The Post’s questioning her about her own reelection chances followed the identical strategy that she used when NTEU Chapter Leaders asked her about the prospects of winning the TSA campaign: No problem! Many Chapter Leaders and national staff members knew that we were headed for a shellacking over TSA, but we kept our doubts to ourselves; we weren’t going to correct our National President in public.
But we are ready to clear the record regarding the campaign for NTEU National President. We’re in this fight to win, and the incumbent is whistling past the graveyard, just as she did in the contest for TSA.
The President has never before faced the prospect of running a true campaign. Even now, she has no website, no visible supporters (as opposed to clandestine ones), and no significant campaign literature. She is not defending her record, or discussing the issues—she’s just saying that her victory is in the bag.
Chapter Leaders have complained to me personally over the heavy-handed pressure that they have received to endorse the current National President; some are worried that they will be ostracized if they are slow to say yes. I have given all these folks the same advice. Just give in. At the Convention, there will be a secret ballot, and a list of “commitments” isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
The incumbent’s campaign travels under the radar. Despite the claims of being disinterested, www.eddieforpresident.com has many fans in NTEU National Office. After Texas, but before California and New York, the most web hits come from NTEU Headquarters.
If you want to learn what you weren’t meant to learn, read the disturbing attempt to undermine the Convention voting rights of one Chapter in this week’s new posting, “The Ultimate Partnership—National NTEU and Labor Relations.” (The link is below.)
We as a union have to demand more of our leadership—whoever that turns out to be after the Convention. Chapter Leaders and the rank and file do not have to stand for old-school shenanigans from our leaders. There must be accountability.
The Credibility Gap is not likely to shrink before the Convention, now only a month away. Many Chapter Leaders have attacked the National President personally, but that is not my approach. My critique is this: the incumbent is just wrong—dead wrong. – Eddie Walker, July 12