trial panel chair!)
The accusers have claimed that Mike Drake has violated a contract of
another Union and the CWA Constitution. The only real charge that exists here
today is that of violating a member's rights, but then to present that argument
the roles of the accused and the accuser's would need to be
What's really on trial here today has nothing to do with what
was actually typed on the charges. The real issue on trial is politics. It's
about an attempt to stifle dissent, and undo the will of the majority who
elected Mike Drake as Vice President.
As members of the trial panel you
must certainly have some knowledge about Union politics. Sometimes, one gains a
lot of knowledge on politics just by running in an election for Local Office,
as all of you have done. I have no doubt that to serve on a trial panel and
judge the guilt or innocence of a CWA member accused of violating the CWA
Constitution is a tough job and most serious matter.
However, it is our
contention that the charges filed by Nita Moreno, Paul Fitton and John Natoli
are nothing more than an attempt to remove Mike Drake from his elected position
in the Local and further prevent him from being eligible to run as a convention
delegate or to seek an elected position in the upcoming elections next year. It
is an attempt to deny a voice and a vote that every member is afforded simply
because he does not agree with some of the decisions of the
This is a last ditch effort after several failed attempts
have been made by this administration to run him out of office. It has been
tried by eliminating his responsibilities as a Vice President, appointing his
opponent from his election to take over his responsibilities and undermining
and humiliating Mike Drake with every available opportunity and resource. I
have no doubt that this type of issue would never be on trial today, if the
removal of an elected official was a legal alternative solely granted to the
The Local President, EVP and Secretary-Treasurer openly
supported the opponent of Mike Drake, filed the charges and now, with the help
of subordinates, seeks to undo the will from the majority of the people who
Before I go any further, I want to talk about the handling
of the charges up to this point. I have been involved in charges before at the
Local and National level and no one can tell me that something isn't amiss in
the way these charges have been handled.
- The charges were filed on March 5, 1998.
- The accused was not notified.
- When the accused heard rumor of this
charge, he tried calling President Bahr's office and was told Mr. Bahr was
- Almost 3 months later, (June 28, 1998) Mr.
Drake received a letter that was addressed to Local 9510. The letter was dated
one month earlier (May 28, 1998).
- It was stamped received by Local 9510 on
June 3, 1998. The envelope contained a letter written by the prosecutor
notifying Mr. Drake that he would be coming from Washington to investigate the
charges and wanted him to be available on July 13 and July 14 for the
- The prosecutors letter was forwarding to
Mr. Drake home address after sitting in the Local for almost a month from the
date it was received. Again the letter was received on June 3 by the local and
forwarded to Mr. Drake on 6-25-98. (postmark)
- Mr. Drake responded to Mr. Walsh via letter
on June 29, 1998 advising he would be available on the dates requested. Mr.
Drake also wrote at that time that he had neither formal knowledge of charges
that had been filed against him, nor any idea what the charges were about. He
requested copies of all material regarding these charges be sent to him. He
also requested that in the future all correspondence and/or communication
regarding these charges should be mailed to his home address.
- Four months, after the filing of charges on
July 7, 1998 Mr. Drake finally received a copy and accompanying documentation.
The prosecutor provided this information. The prosecutor also acknowledged Mr.
Drake's request and noted that his address had been changed for the records.
- The investigation was held as scheduled on
July 13 and July 14, 1998.
- Two months later, Mr. Drake was provided
with the recommendation of the prosecutor. (third week of September 1998.)
- The prosecutor noted in his report that he
talked with members involved on both sides. To Mr. Drake's knowledge the
prosecutor did not have any conversation with anyone on the side of the accused
- A few days before the Executive Board
meeting in October, Mr. Drake received a telephone call from Executive Board
Member, Vivian Thunell. She told Mr. Drake that a trial date had been selected
and that it would be held on October 27, 1998 somewhere in Los Angeles. She
said the exact location was as yet unknown but that it would not be held at the
C.W.A. District Nine Los Angeles Offices. I was present when Mr. Drake received
- At the October Executive Board meeting Mr.
Drake mentioned the date of the trial he had been given to Executive Vice
President Paul Fitton. Mr. Fitton then told Mr. Drake the trial was scheduled
for October 26, 1998. Mr. Drake questioned which date was the actual date
because he had not received any official notification from the Union.
- At this juncture I took it upon myself to
write a letter (10/16/98) to the prosecutor requesting official notification of
the date, time and location. I had doubts as to whether the trial would
actually take place on the dates he was given because the UOPM requires
official notification and suggests notification be provided with time permitted
for the accused to prepare his/her case and witnesses. The practice is usually
ten days advance notice.
- A response came from the prosecutor in the
form of an overnight letter (dated October 19, 1998) and was received on
October 20, 1998. Six days prior to the trial.
- The letter included the date of the trail
and location. The letter also states that the trial date, time and location was
'socialized' with the all parties. I called the prosecutor and questioned when
this was "socialized with Mr. Drake. He admitted that Mr. Drake was not
consulted but he assumed the parties involved at the Local would have let him
know. We also discussed some details about the proceedings and how I should
obtain releases for our witnesses.
- On October 20, 1998 I called
Secretary-Treasurer John Natoli to provide him with the list of witnesses I
needed to be released. I was told that he was out of office attending grievance
- I called again on October 21, 1998 this
time reaching Mr. Natoli and requested the release of witnesses for the trial.
Later that afternoon I was paged at 3:15pm by the Local. I returned the call
and spoke to one of the Local's Secretary's. She notified me that the GT
management had denied the releases to all witnesses working in Mr. Drake's
building. I asked to speak to John Natoli and was told he was out on grievances
again. I asked to speak to President Moreno and was told she was out of the
office. I asked to speak to Paul Fitton and was told he was not working at the
Local that day. I asked if anyone would escalate the release requests to a
higher authority in GT. She told me she would page President Moreno to find
out. I tried to reach the prosecutor to generate activity for someone to call
the Human Resources VP in GT but he could not be contacted because of the
Washington time difference. I also knew that he would be en route the next day
- On October 22, at 2:00pm I called the Local
back on and asked to speak to President Moreno about the status of the
releases. I was again advised that was not available because she was in Los
Angeles attending a crucial bargaining items meeting for the GT unit. I asked
the Secretary if she could page President Moreno and have someone follow up
with me on the status of these releases.
- The Local's secretary paged me at 5:15pm.
She told me that she had provided the list of names for President Moreno and
that Moreno would refer the matter over to CWA Staff Representative, Ellen
West. I asked if anyone could let me know what was going on and the secretary
stated she didn't know.
- This conversation led me to believe that
Moreno never made any attempt to call the company on October 22, because she
never obtained the names of the witnesses until the Local's Secretary provided
them to her on the 21st.
- On Friday, October 23, 1998 I received a
voice mail from Mr. Hughes informing me that GT management was still refusing
to release our witnesses but noticed the some of the members I had requested
worked off-shifts and therefore could testify on their own time if necessary.
Had the accused been given adequate time and notification prior to
the trial date, arrangements could have been made in advance for changes in
work schedules to allow our witnesses to appear. I would like the record to
reflect that this is why the accused will have only a few witnesses appearing
on his behalf today. We seriously doubt the accusers ran up against similar
This is just one small example of how politics is played in
Local 9510. Mr. Drake is no stranger to politics. Over the past two years he
has supported the Local administration when they were right and has been
critical when they were wrong. This administration has demonstrated that they
will not tolerate criticism, dissent or anyone who doesn't line up on President
Moreno's side or her way of thinking.
The mere fact that an
unprecedented move of calling for a National Trial Court to deal with trumped
up charges over petty politics should be testimony in itself as to the type of
paranoia that has consumed the leadership of Local 9510.
In fact, the
remedy requested illustrates the how deeply personal this contempt for Mr.
Drake really runs. The accusers are asking for, "NO LESS than a five year
suspension" from membership of C.W.A., and even the prosecutor has stated this
is "clearly overkill".
Members of the trial panel, Mr. Drake is not
guilty of these charges. You will see that this is nothing more than a way to
stifle the dissent of a CWA Officer that they do not agree with. You will see
instead, that you have been asked to interpret a collective bargaining
agreement between a CWA Local and the OPEIU. If you determine that there was
productive work being done by a CWA officer you have put a clause into their
contract that was not there. You will have interpreted "non-existent language"
that will impact every local in this district that is a co-signer to that OPEIU
Additionally, if the President of Local 9510 is successful in
removing an elected officer because of differing opinions, it will not bode
well for any officer, steward or member who dares express dissent in the
future. I also would respectfully suggest that before the body of this court
reaches a conclusion a reading of the LMRDA (Labor Management Reporting and
This section will have a take on
the trial proceedings itself! I have requested the transcript and/or tape of
what took place. I want you to see some of the testimony and other moments of
what is truly the most bizarre experience I have had in a long list of bizarre
CWA experiences during my career! I requested the transcript and or tape on
November 4, 1998.
I received the tapes earlier this month. There was a
slight problem with one of them. It did not have anything on it. I sent it back
and am waiting for another copy (with something on it)! In the mean time, take
a look at my take on...
The defense has shown that the charges before you are not what they
appear to be. You have heard testimony from one of the stewards who were
successfully removed for exerting their rights as a union member. You have
heard from another who testified to the kind of intimidation tactics used by
this administration to cause her to transfer out of the Local's
The three Accusers assert in their own charge that
violating another union member's rights should question the purpose of our own
existence. Yet, when an employee of the Local charged an executive official
with a sexual harassment, where was the question to our purpose? When the same
Executive Officer yelled obscenities to another elected official, where was the
question to our purpose? When the administration of this local passed a motion
to violate member's rights and was ordered by the District Vice President to
remove the motion, where was the question to our purpose?
Mike Drake merely communicated with his work group to calm their fears and
provided another with information they are requesting the ultimate act of
lunacy! They want a member be thrown out of our Union for trying to sign up
non-members into our Union. Have we gone completely mad?
As I said in my
opening statement, Mike Drake is no stranger to Union politics but his 30 years
of activism in Union's is not the picture this administration wants you to see.
Yes, Mike Drake is critical to those whom he perceives as using CWA for their
own personal interests and gain and will speak out for what he believes. But
that is a right afforded to all Union members through the LMRDA and every
citizen in our country through the Constitution of the United
But, I believe you should know something about the man who
stands on trial before you today defending his right to belong to the
- Mike Drake was raised in a Union family. His
father was a member of the IWW and one of the founders of the National Maritime
Union. At one time his father was on the National Executive Council of the NMU.
His mother was a shop steward in the SEIU after she helped organize the medical
secretaries at Kaiser Hospitals into Local 399. He was an SEIU member when one
of his first jobs was as an usher for the LA Dodgers and later as a janitor at
- He went on to work for California Water and
Telephone in 1966 and on his first day of the job he joined the Union. In the
unit clarification election he worked tirelessly for CWA and later founded a
C.W.A. Local in Palm Springs California, with Steve Olney who is now the
Executive Assistant to Secretary-Treasurer Barbara Easterling. That Local today
is known as Local 9588.
- Later, he transferred to Local 9510 and has
served in every elected position of this Local. Executive Board, Vice
President, Secretary-Treasurer, Executive Vice President and Local President
through almost three terms.
- In the 1970's when two farm workers were
killed in Delano, California Mike took an unpaid leave from his job in order to
support the farm workers grape boycott. He traveled with the farm workers
across the country and was arrested with them for picketing. When he and the
others were in jail they took a severe beating from the sheriff's deputies for
their activity, which later led to a civil rights violation hearing by the
United Farm Workers. Cesar Chavez has praised Mike for his work and ongoing
support with the UFW. Here's a letter written by Cesar Chavez that proves what
I am saying. How many of us can claim the honor of being asked to be one of the
pallbearers at Cesar Chavez's funeral?
- It was Mike Drake and Steve Olney who
organized the classified ad takers at the Orange Country Register, a well-known
anti-union newspaper. Local 9510 was the first Union since 1942 to be certified
at that newspaper.
- Mike Drake has been an active participant
over the years in the Democratic party assisting with voter registration,
precinct walking, GOTV, mostly on his own time and not lost time wages paid for
by the Union.
- It was Mike Drake who created and edited the
Orange Empire Newsletter in its present format. It is the same newsletter used
today by the Local to tear him up. In the Local hall of 9510 are awards from
the National Union for articles written by Mike Drake. He authored the proposal
for retirement grants now given to members in Local 9510. He also authored the
Local 9510 scholarship awards that are granted to CWA members and/or their
children. President Moreno's daughter was once a recipient of that very same
- In 1977 Mike Drake served as an elected
member to the bargaining committee with GTE and refused along with the rest of
the committee to endorse a contract because they believed the members deserved
better than what the National Union accepted.
- In 1980, it was Mike Drake who stopped the
National Union from arbitrarily raising the CWA COPE quota from $2 to $5 per
member without gaining permission and action from the delegates. And though
it's been awhile since I've attended a convention I believe this quota still
remains at $2
- Mike Drake has always tried to help the rank
& file and those that are weaker than him. You don't come away with this
type of activism experience and whine and sniffle every time someone criticizes
you or calls you a name. Mike Drake is the only man that I know of, who
practices in his personal life what he believes about Unions. If there's a job
to be done around the home he hires union contractors, if we can't find union
workers as in the case of our gardener's he pays them way above the wages they
would normally earn. (Sometimes even over my own objection's) He contributes
hours of his own time to help co-workers with their problems, and regularly
makes financial contributions to organizations that try to help those less
fortunate than us.
This is the individual that the accusers want thrown out of CWA. A
man who has devoted 30 years of his life assisting those struggling to improve
their lives by belonging to a Union, and building and promoting CWA.
show another example of how the accusers in this trial are so politically
blinded by their effort to stifle dissent. They put together these deceptive
charges, signed them together instead of separately to force the use of a
National Trial which could have been easily handled at the Local level, and
asked for a remedy that would deprive the Union of income of over $3,000.00.
Because we all know that if Mike Drake is suspended from the Union he is not
required to pay Union Dues.
Even if Mike Drake were guilty of violating
a local directive or the OPEIU contract, which he isn't, does it rise to the
level of seriousness of dual unionism, embezzlement, and scabbing?
accusers in this case want Mike Drake out of office. They have attacked him
professionally through the newsletter, the minutes and meetings. They have
attacked him personally by spreading false rumors about his health and personal
life. But up until now they have been unable to figure out is how to stop the
members from electing him to union office.
Up until now, and that is why
we are all here today. Mike Drake is a trade Unionist. He would not willfully
violate any mandate of the membership or article of the CWA Constitution. He
does know his right's as a Union member and will defend those rights for
himself and others until the day he dies.
I'm asking you to find Mike
Drake not guilty for the charges filed against him by Moreno, Fitton and
Natoli. I thank all panel members for your time and consideration on the matter
The day of "THE TRIAL" was
October 26, 1998. The day of "JUDGEMENT" after
deliberations of at least to the time for dinner, the same! To see the penalty,
click the door below...