Opening Statement
(Interrupted by trial panel chair!)

truth does not matter

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 reversed.

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 president.

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 Local President.

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 elected him.

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.

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 obstacles.

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 contract.

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 Disclosure Act).

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 TRIAL"!

Closing Statement

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 jurisdiction.

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?

Yet, because 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 States.

But, I believe you should know something about the man who stands on trial before you today defending his right to belong to the CWA.

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.

To 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?

The 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 before you.

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...

To weird 4 me!