By Dan Catchpole Herald Writer
EVERETT — Vote counting after the Machinists union’s first contested general election since 1961 starts Wednesday, with preliminary results expected later this week.
A group of reform candidates is hoping to unseat the incumbent leadership of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
Despite the historic circumstances, turnout was reportedly low across the country.
Nonetheless, Jay Cronk, who heads the reform ticket, said he is “optimistic” about the election, which is being overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The incumbents’ campaign has already claimed victory on its Facebook page. The IAM’s current president, Thomas Buffenbarger, has held the position since 1997.
The election is actually a do-over of last year’s general election. A member of the reform ticket, Karen Asuncion, contested the results, claiming that union leaders skewed the nomination process to hamper competition.
The Labor Department backed the claim, and IAM leaders agreed to run the election again rather than face legal action.
Turnout was low for District Lodge 751, which represents about 33,000 Boeing-employed Machinists in Washington and Oregon. But sources say the votes that were cast went overwhelmingly to the reform ticket, which includes Jason Redrup, one of the district’s elected business representatives in Everett.
The votes will be counted at the union’s headquarters in Upper Marlboro, Md., starting Wednesday morning. Counting will continue for 12 hours a day until finished, after which preliminary results will be released.
Counting could be concluded by Friday, said Frank Larkin, a Machinists union spokesman.
Candidates have until May 23 to lodge any complaints or protests with federal officials, who have to certify the final results.
Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; email@example.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.