AFSCME Orders New Election

Thomas MacMillan PhotoCherlyn Poindexter won re-election as president of city government’s managerial union in part by sending out campaign materials from her work email account. She saw her victory taken away from her for just the same reason.

Poindexter’s victory came in November of last year, when she beat back a challenge from Tom Verderame and was reelected as the head of AFSCME Local 3144, which represents about 360 managers in city government.

On Thursday, an AFSCME judicial panel ordered a re-do of the election. Poindexter (pictured) violated a rule prohibiting the use of employer email accounts for union campaigns, the panel ruled.

Click here to read the decision.

Poindexter remains president of the union, pending a new election, which must take place within 45 days. The election re-do order covers races not only for president, but vice-president, and for a seat on the union’s executive board.

The panel decision was the result of a complaint filed by Local 3144 member Lynn Piekarz.

Piekarz submitted an official election protest in November, just days after the election. Her letter listed several alleged election violations, including that Poindexter got involved in ballot preparation and election logistics, created a hostile work environment, and used city email to run her campaign.

At an AFSCME hearing at the Omni Hotel last month, Piekarz (pictured) presented 250 pages documenting emails Poindexter had sent and received on her city email account regarding her reelection campaign. Several emails contain messages between Poindexter and Jane A. Ciarleglio, executive director of the state Office of Higher Education, using city and state email accounts respectively.

“Here’s my new flyer. What do you think?” reads one message from Poindexter to Ciarleglio. The two proceed to discuss via government email the choice and placement of photographs for the flyer.

The AFSCME panel dismissed all of Piekarz’s claims except for the one about the use of email. The panel decision does not, however, mention Poindexter or her opponent by name; it’s not clear whether improper use of email was limited to one side of the campaign or the other.

“The Judicial Panel has consistently held that the use of the employer’s email system is prohibited in that it compromises the integrity of the election process, which must be free of employer influence,” the decision states. “Consequently, this issue concerning the use of the New Haven email system for campaign mailings is found to be valid.”

“The election protest by Sister Piekarz is upheld as to the email issue,” the ruling concludes. “The election must be re-run within 45 days of receipt of this decision.”

Poindexter refused to comment on the panel decision.

Piekarz couldn’t be reached for comment.

Verderame (pictured), Poindexter’s erstwhile challenger, said he will run for union president in the upcoming election. He released the following statement:

“Today’s decision by the AFSCME judicial panel upholding the protest of our sister, Lynn Piekarz, is testament to the flawed and unfair election of union officers. I welcome the opportunity, this time, to engage in a fair and democratic election with an even playing field for all candidates.”

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posted by: NHInsider on February 24, 2014  5:14pm

This is a farce. Cherlyn had the votes and won, not by intimidation or using work email, but on her record of service to the members of 3144.  Let’s set a date for another vote-3144 will come in droves to support Cheryln!!

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on February 24, 2014  6:44pm

Sounds to me like she used city resources, and maybe even conducted election activities while on the clock for the city. If that’s the case then she owes the taxpayers some money - and an apology!

posted by: Bobbe Bellamy on February 25, 2014  10:53am

What Cherlyn should have done was FOI their emails.  Then the conversation – this article, Washington’s decision would have been totally different.  I am certain that a phone, computer, city-time (some——thing) was used to conduct some type of use by the challenger(s), as well.  Because—it just make sense.  You’re at work all day – it’s convenient.  Judge Judy would say if it makes sense, then it’s probably true.  I am 100% sure that every city of New Haven employee (including some of you ‘private’ company employees) (top to the bottom) from time-to-time used their employer resources to conduct something of a personal use, and not work related.  The phone.  The computer.  A paper clip.  It does not matter how big or small.  Or what its purpose.  We are all guilty.  So why would she apologize?  Let alone owe the taxpayers.

Cherlyn, I do not know your next move for you and your team, but you should appeal this ridiculous decision made by Washington.

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on February 25, 2014  12:50pm

Bobby - 250 pages is much more than an email or paper clip or two. And that’s just what was uncovered. It hints at a potentially larger abuse of city resources. Like too many city employees you seem to think that the taxpayers are working for the city employees, when in reality it is supposed to be the other way around.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 25, 2014  3:35pm

osted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on February 25, 2014 11:50am
Bobby - 250 pages is much more than an email or paper clip or two. And that’s just what was uncovered. It hints at a potentially larger abuse of city resources. Like too many city employees you seem to think that the taxpayers are working for the city employees, when in reality it is supposed to be the other way around.

Give me a break.I will say it again.CITY,STATE AND FEDRAL WORKERS PAY TAXES TO.

posted by: Bobbe Bellamy on February 25, 2014  4:56pm

some things just doesn’t deserve a reply but instead of me shaking my head here it is:  that’s an old out-dated myth about what/how city employees think. Most of us work our butts off doing the job in which we were hired to do.  Secondly, we all are taxpayers.  Have homes right here in the city like most people.  And finally, I’ll let you in on a secret———some of the most lazy laid-back employees live right here in the city of New Haven. In closing - 250 pages of garbage.  No need to reply.  Subject closed

posted by: Westville voter on February 25, 2014  7:18pm

This situation illustrates much of what is wrong with New Haven. City employees, local union leaders, and apparently some NHI commentators seem to think that rules are optional. They are not. Ms. Poindexter violated union rules, city policy, and possibly the law by using city resources in her campaign.  She effectively stole taxpayers’ time and money and got caught. She should be disciplined, not defended. I don’t care if she is the best union president ever. She violated the rules and should be shown the door. Those city employees who do not have a problem with such flagrant disregard for the rules should follow her out. New Haven would be better off without you. We cannot have a functional city if employees think rules only apply to others. This defense of dishonesty is astonishing. What a disgrace!

posted by: sotired on February 25, 2014  10:48pm

A new election will bring closure to the situation and the union can finally move forward. If Ms. Poindexter had lost the election, and it was discovered that she had used city emails for her campaign, or violated any other policies and the election was indeed unfair, I doubt if anyone would be calling Washington.  It is an insult when they act like they did it for the members.

posted by: NunofYurBizness on February 26, 2014  11:11am

i understand this on principal but in all honesty does anyone think that Ms Poindexter won because she sent emails from her work email or anything like that? How many people even read those things or pay attention to them. You want to vote for the person who is going to protect the interest of our union, people look at the administration just elected who is going to stand up to them , hold their ground the best…. I also know that the other candidate and his team did things on city time, like visit people for votes , drive around in the city car to distribute but no one called them out . yes we all can do better but I am so done with this foolishness and I pray that Piekarz will finally GET A LIFE stop sending all those packets