Carrie Biggs-Adams, president of Local 53 of the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians in Burbank, narrowly avoided recall by the union membership Thursday following a six-month campaign to oust her.
Of 803 ballots cast in the bitter recall attempt, 527 favored Biggs-Adams recall and 271 were in favor of retaining her. Five ballots were declared spoiled and not counted. Under union rules, it takes two-thirds of the ballots cast to recall a president; the measure failed by three votes.
The recall organizers said they might ask for a recount and would definitely question Biggs-Adams' tactics in allegedly using union funds to fight off her challengers. She has about 18 months remaining in her term.
The recall election comes on the heels of the Nov. 2 settlement of a 17-week-long strike of 2,800 NABET employees who worked for NBC. But the recall drive did not begin as a strike-related campaign.
Members of a non-striking unit of Local 53 who work for KTTV Channel 11 filed recall petitions with the required 25% of signatures of local members two weeks before the June 29 walkout at NBC. KTTV shop steward Robert Bowen launched the recall drive following the successful attempt by Biggs-Adams and her executive board to oust Local 53's former business agent, Harry Buhler.
According to Bowen, the replacement of Buhler was only the latest in a series of allegedly dictatorial executive board actions sanctioned and overseen by Biggs-Adams. In their recall petition, and subsequent flyers that they distributed to the Burbank local's 1,050 members, Bowen and executive board member Joseph Champa charged Biggs-Adams with:
--Mismanaging a strike of Local 53's members at Financial News Network, which caused both a loss of jobs as well as the strike.
--Imposing her own political agenda on the local by suggesting that members and local funds be used for political marches and a demonstration in support of abortion.
--Presiding over executive board meetings with "an iron hand."
--Taking credit for successes while laying off the blame on others for the local's failures.
Biggs-Adams has denied all of the charges and countered with her own allegations that the recall, which gathered steam during the summer-long strike at NBC, was only the work of a handful of "disgruntled" KTTV employees.
The NBC strike began to figure into the recall campaign in mid-September, when Biggs-Adams called for a "solidarity Thursday" on Oct. 1.
"On that day, we are asking non-NBC people in the entertainment industry to arrange to take the day off," read a membership report that was mailed in mid-September to all Local 53 members. "Starting that day (for at least one week), we are all asking all of the union-represented people at NBC to respect our picket lines at NBC."
According to Biggs-Adams' opponents, "solidarity Thursday" was an invitation to non-striking NABET members to openly violate non-strike provisions in their own contracts. Bowen said that such a demand was irresponsible and might jeopardize future contract negotiations at non-NBC facilities, such as KTTV.