Saturday, October 22, 2005

Irregularities in Ratification Vote Mount as Members Worry Whether Fair Election Can Be Had



Reports are coming in from all over the City demonstrating that the leadership of our Union will attempt to use every tactic to cause our members to vote for this contract calling into question the legality of this referendum.

We have had reports of the following irregularities:
  • balloting done in violation of the established rules by failing to safeguard ballots

  • electioneering being allowed by pro-contract union member only

  • access to mailboxes by out of building paid union representatives being permitted, but not by other union members

  • leaflets printed with Union dues attacking opposition members and threatening that the only option is to vote yes or strike

  • letters accompanying ballots mailed to members homes misrepresenting the delegate assembly vote

  • voting occurring prior to the date provided with the ballots

  • ballots left in teacher mailboxes which can be accessed by anyone in the building

In order to ensure union democracy and that this vote is being properly conducted, we need specific examples of any improper practices you are witnessing. We need dates, times and persons involved. There is no doubt that our Union’s leadership is desperate to achieve passage by a huge margin. We do have recourse but we need specific evidence of irregularities in the voting process should this sellout contract get ratified.

Email all allegations to Jeff Kaufman at jeffkaufman@ice-uft.org or James Eterno at jameseterno@ice-uft.org.

We must not let anyone rob of us of a fair election!

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

My sentiments exactly. There is no security with this vote -- meaning who is watching over the individual conducting the vote and why isn't there an impartial witness? It is not reasonable to have a biased person conduct the vote. Why is there not a policy in place already that spells out how to run a fai impartial election. Is this an issue we can address in the future?

I have seen no respect for democracy with this union. If the DA vote is representative if how this union conducts controversial elections, what will vhappen this week?

Anonymous said...

sorry for the lack of editing with the above comment.

Anonymous said...

Randi and the gang no low no low enough. They are showing their true colors and it is not pretty

Anonymous said...

Anonymous-
Are you accusing your colleagues, the chapter leaders in the schools, of being corrupt? All 1300 of them? Do you think only the pro-contract CL's will tamper with the votes, or do you fear the anti-contract CL's will also hold unfair elections? Who would be the impartial person to oversee the election? Are you proposing the UFT use dues money to hire security officers to watch people vote? It's my understanding that this vote is through a secret ballot that gets placed into a double envelope. The American Arbitration Assn. opens, verifies and counts each vote. The process is public and can be witnessed by those who want to assure its veracity. Some of us will, no doubt, be displeased about the way the election turns out, but please do not accuse your colleagues, in all the building across the city, of being in cahoots to defraud you.

Concerned Chapter Leader said...

Election irregularities are often the result of ignorance- not purposeful fraud. Many of the election committees running the elections are unclear as to how the ballots are to be distributed. If they are placed in unsecured mailboxes, as has been reported in the blog, a serious irregularity has occurred. I am a CL and the list of members from my school is grossly inaccurate. It includes names of people who have either never taught at my school or are long gone, and leaves off the names of most of the new staff. How with the AAA deal with these voters? I know several CL that hold a "rally" meeting before the vote to influence their building's members. This is clearly electioneering. In a recent e-mail Mike Mendel wrote,"Chapter Leaders have been calling me with questions about who can put material in UFT members' letter boxes. The letter boxes are the property of the school. The principal has the right to review literature placed in letter boxes but all employees of the school should be treated equally for these purposes. (Baizerman, Step III.)" Why then have CLs removed non-UFT sanctioned materials from mailboxes? Members deserve to read all points of view on the Contract. I for one do not worry about corruption. I do worry about misinformed, overworked CLs who may confuse union loyalty with going too far when supporting a union initiative. There are better ways to hold a vote- all members could receive ballots in their homes. This was the method we used when electing our officers.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous: I doubt that all 1300 CLs are corrupt, however, are you so blind to the truth that you find it utterly impossible to believe some of these CLs will do whatever it takes to ensure their orders to obtain yes votes is achieved? I have been witness to vote fraud. Whatever the UFT wants, it gets - through scare tactics, lies and yes, even an unwillingness to ensure that the ballots are properly maintained and preserved. If the voting process was to take place on the 24th, as stated on the UFT site, tell me why it is that some schools (who received their ballots on the 20th) have begun to vote? They left their ballots in their CLs mailbox? So, who IS watching the voting process? The AAA may be counting the votes, but the main concern is what happens before they get to the AAA.

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that all contract votes have taken place this way, in schools, not at home. Also, that all UFT members who want to vote should be allowed to do so, regardless if their name is on any list, because the Arbitration Assn. will check each one. Putting ballots in the mailboxes may not be the best way to ensure getting them all back on time, but since each ballot must have identification on it, I don't think we need to fear that anyone will vote more than once. Further, I think you insult the people conducting the election in the schools. I don't think my chapter leader has received any 'orders' about how to fix the vote to make the results come out a certain way. I'm on the election committee and I'm confident that our vote, like the vast majority of the ones taking place in other schools, will be fair and honest. Finally, in terms of chapter leaders electioneering, I suppose those who favor the contract will say so to their members and those who oppose the contract will say so to their members. It's human nature. In the end, each ballot is secret and sealed, and the people in the schools will decide. Will you say that the vote was rigged if the election goes against your wishes, but claim that it was honest if the election goes your way?

Anonymous said...

"Will you say that the vote was rigged if the election goes against your wishes, but claim that it was honest if the election goes your way?"

That's the American way, isn't it?

yomister said...

As a former member of another union (Association of Flight Attendants), all of our voting was conducted by telephone or Internet balloting after receiving a secure ballot identification number mailed to our home address.

All of this paperwork flying around NYC schools and being handed off from person to person simply stinks with the potential of impropriety.

Anonymous said...

I am a chapter leader vehemently opposed to the contract. I know other chapter leaders who feel the same. I was accused by a V.P. as being anti-union. I was "reported" by an ex- chapter leader for allowing anti contract leaflets to be placed in mailboxes. I was reported to my District Leader for my sentiments and for allowing my colleagues to voice their opinion. I want to resign, but that would mean that a transferee, another ex chapter leade, who is a member of Unity and thinks Randi is terrific, would be the only person to run for the position. I can't do that to myself or my colleagues. By the way, the transferee reported me to a one of the borough reps and to my principal (Who ironically backed me up.) Finally, I had the election on Friday because I wanted to end the intimidation and make sure that everyone voted; so, I guess ICE will now report me. Why am I doing this for a lousy 3 figure stipend that barely covers my travel and copying costs? I AM THOUROUGHLY DISGUSTED WITH THE UFT, ESPECIALLY THE UNITY CAUCUS.

Anonymous said...

I too have been cast a disparging eye for being anti-contract, but rest assured I risk my job everyday by bombarding the mailboxes with ICE literature, and why? I'll tell you why, because Weingarten sold us out, and I am so sick of the old timers "strong arming" members in my school and trying to get them to vote yes. I have fought with several teachers over this, but I am not worried about my tenure this year, or even my job. My grandfather was a strong union man and always told me "when its right fight for it, and when its wrong say so loudly and often." With this in mind I say VOTE NO! I also say thanks for nothing Weingarten you sell-out socialist!

Anonymous said...

I'm an "old timer" who sacrificed to get us the seniority, excessing and transfer rights we now have and are in danger of losing with Randi's sellout. I can retire within the next 3 years, and, if I voted my wallet, I would vote yes. However, I am voting no. You'd be surprised at how many of you young'ins are for the contract, while us old folks are votin' no.

Anonymous said...

How do I see the votes being rigged? Let me count the ways.
The Unity chapter leader is in with the principal who loves this new contract because of the new powers he will have. Shortly before the vote closes, the principal quietly passses on the names of teachers, secys etc. who haven't voted and their file number. Of course, no one is ever, ever dishonest, but miraculously, the votes for these individuals get cast -- pro contract.

The new teacher comes up to the table to vote. Says she has no idea what to vote for -- doesn't really understand the issues, doesn't want to strike and really needs more money. The Unity chapter leader advises and in goes a 'yes' vote.

The teacher feels safe and secure, does not connect with the 'letter in the file' issue, discusses the pros and cons with the Unity chapter leader who safely advises. The safe teacher decides to be safe and vote yes.

There are many ways to rig a vote as we watched Randi do at the DA meeting.

Yes, I am proposing that impartial overseers be hired with Union dues. I am a part of this Union and I pay close to $80 per month in dues. I will gladly give up all the newspapers and American Teachers I receive from the union. I would rather put the money toward this issue. The AAA counts the vote but does not look into HOW the vote was cast.

Talk up Unity all you want, keep your little extra salary and pretend nothing is wrong. But I am asking you to think seriously before you vote. No one will ever know how you vote. You can support Unity and still vote NO. We have a chance to now turn the tide. We have a chance to stand up for the labor movement which made this country great. Please don't squander this opportunity. We can only do better, not worse. We will feel so proud of ourselves that we stood up for our rights, Unity people, vote NO.

Norm said...

Can there be fraud in the voting?

We do not believe there can be vote fraud at the AAA level - we will have observers anyway - but the AAA would never allow their reputation to be compromised. Also, we do not believe the top-level UFT would risk any ties to vote fraud. But from the middle-level district rep down, there are loads of opportunities.

Possible irregularities as raised at ICE meeting Friday:
What happens to unused ballots? Chapter leaders have been told nothing. What is to prevent a zealous chapter leader from voting for people who chose not to vote? Since only initials (why not signatures?) are necessary, it would be easy to vote for non-voters and discovering that would be next to impossible. This scenario is more likely than "dumping" yes votes which is not impossible because the envelope can be held up to the light and read (another flaw in the procedure.)

Are there there people out there capable of this? Just look at the insane, hysterical campaign for a YES vote and the vicious attacks against opponents.

From a Chapter Leader:
There is no way to prove/disprove that a ballot actually came from the person. Perhaps that is the key to 78% to 22% margins. Folks can be absent. Who is to stop those ballots from being forged?
And what of the schools that had their elections last week?
Have the ballots been under lock and key or laying in some desk, car, house?

Anonymous said...

I'm really shocked that you would suggest that chapter leaders, in cahoots with principals, would cast votes for absent members. I don't believe this for one second, but if you do, why wouldn't it be equally true about chapter leaders who are against the contract? You really have a low opinion of your colleagues. I, on the other hand, firmly believe that chapter leaders, whatever their personal opinions, will take the votes, yea and nay, and mail them off to the AAA in an appropriate fashion. As for chapter leaders influencing the votes of 'new' or 'safe' teachers, that's perfectly legal and fair. Political candidates do it all the time by standing outside polling places and shaking hands with entering voters. This is hardly fixing the vote. Frankly, I'm beginning to think that this has nothing to do with the contract, but is just anti-Unity rant. According to posters here, anything the current leadership does has to be manipulative, corrupt and mean-spirited, while only ICE folks are honest, well-meaning and hard-working. Most chapter leaders could care less about the in-fighting within the UFT and are just trying very hard to do right by their members. Until you are real enough to acknowledge the good the UFT leadership has done, and continues to do, for UFTers, your movement will remain small and on the fringe.

Anonymous said...

due to the nature of our program, we vote by mail. 2 of the 6 uft members at my site received 2 ballots in the mail, only one envelope to return them in...perhaps simple foul up, perhaps... ?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your commment. I did not say ALL chapter leaders. Of course not. But yes, a few certainly could be aligned with the principal. What is so hard to grasp?

In the last two presidential elections, dozens of irregularities were reported and in some states, it definitely appeared that the vote had been set up. If you examine Bloomberg's record of charity giving and then compare it to which charity supports him, it is very close.

This is not a movement of a few 'crazies on the fringe' as you would like to believe. This is a movement of serious 'middle of the road' teachers who are despairing over what life will be like under this new contract and cannot believe that teachers are actually supporting an elimination of their rights.

It is not fair to influence new or safe members unless you have presented all sides. Have you, as a Unity member or CL, allowed fliers to be distributed to colleagues that are anti-contract?

I have a high respect and faith inmy colleagues. I am one of them and we are hard working, intelligent people. I believe this contract will not pass. I would ask you, as a Unity member, to please consider all the angles, how unhappyand scared many of us are and please vote NO. At least open up the door to a better contract. What do you have to lose?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your commment. I did not say ALL chapter leaders. Of course not. But yes, a few certainly could be aligned with the principal. What is so hard to grasp?

In the last two presidential elections, dozens of irregularities were reported and in some states, it definitely appeared that the vote had been set up. If you examine Bloomberg's record of charity giving and then compare it to which charity supports him, it is very close.

This is not a movement of a few 'crazies on the fringe' as you would like to believe. This is a movement of serious 'middle of the road' teachers who are despairing over what life will be like under this new contract and cannot believe that teachers are actually supporting an elimination of their rights.

It is not fair to influence new or safe members unless you have presented all sides. Have you, as a Unity member or CL, allowed fliers to be distributed to colleagues that are anti-contract?

I have a high respect and faith inmy colleagues. I am one of them and we are hard working, intelligent people. I believe this contract will not pass. I would ask you, as a Unity member, to please consider all the angles, how unhappyand scared many of us are and please vote NO. At least open up the door to a better contract. What do you have to lose?

Anonymous said...

I am a chapter leader who gave the pros and cons of the contract. I was criticized by a small group, 2 near retirees and a second year teacher who says he will be out of teaching in 4 years. A majority of those who attended my meeting thanked me for the balance. I then planned to send a pro flyer from Unity and a con flyer from New Action. My DR said NO, send only Unity literature. A near retiree then put pro propaganda in the mailboxes without anyone's permission; so, I placed an ICE flyer in the mailboxes for balance. One of the near retirees complained to the principal who wisely did not get involved. Our school was visited by a union leader who lied to the group. When I asked for the truth he said I was anti union. Do I trust the balloting? Absolutely not!!!!

Anonymous said...

It is amazing if you try to be fair, how unfair the UFT is. They will do anything to get this lousy contract through.

Anonymous said...

Anon-
Thanks for the more reasonable tone. Yes, there were irregularities in the presential elections (perhaps all of them), but this vote is hardly on that magnitude. Most people are not as passionate about this as are some people on this site, and whether they vote for or against the contract, they cannot be bothered with collusion, ballot-tampering, vote-stuffing, etc. Thy have classes to teach and lives to lead. Also, you keep referring to me as a Unity member, which I'm not. I'm the serious "middle of the road" teacher you describe. While I see anger out there for Randi over this deal, it is no way as rampant as you seem to think. Most people agree with her that we won't get a better deal. If you want to appeal to the mainstream teacher, you will need to hurl fewer insults, make fewer accusations of illegalities and come up with creative and realistic suggestions for change. Until there is a viable opposition, Randi has nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

If the last anoymous is a classroom teacher as was stated, where did he/she get the time at 8:25 a.m. on a school day to post on a blog? I don't even have time to breathe on a normal day, let alone post on a blog. I'm lucky I can take a few minutes to check email now only because I am waiting for parents to start arriving now as it is open school evening.

Anonymous said...

Is even being home sick open for suspicion? This is not a very trusting lot. (PS- I may stay home tomorrow as well so in case I post during school hours you'll know why.)

Anonymous said...

Actually, I was also home sick this past week and I am anti contract. On this day, I posted in the early afternoon.

Here is what I observed at my school. Approximately 30 people did not vote. The sheets sent from the union include the employee's name, their file # and the last 4 digits of the Social Security #. How easy it would have been to fill out ballots for these 30 individuals, secure them in the double envelope, put their file # and sign the front and sign in on the sheet. If not the entire 30, maybe 15 or ten.

There is such little space for the person to sign on the sheet that their signature can obscure the next person's space. It ends up looking like the next person signed.

The wooden box is secured by a tiny suitcase lock which could easily be opened with a file. It would only take an hour or two to go through all] the votes in the box.

All this on a evening in which the school was open very late and a lot of people were mulling around.

I don't mean to sound paranoid or accusatory or non trusting of my colleagues. But is it so hard to fathom that some passionate individual who believes in what they are doing could try to add or change votes?

Of course, many would not compromise their integrity. But some might.

Can't a more secure, sophisiticated method of voting be put into place?

If everyone is so trusting of the AAA count, then how come we will have impartial observors present?

Anonymous said...

To the Last Anonymous-

You are absolutely right how easy it is to fix ballots. With everyone's file number on that list, it would be as easy for a chapter leader to vote for all the people who are not there and just about impossible to detect.

Anonymous said...

No "irregularities" at my school...except that you "ICE" people kept running around trying to convince everyone to vote "NO" for the contract...especially the new teachers who you threatened with hyperbolic nonsense about them getting pinned for child molestation for no reason. Realyy! It was embarassing.

Oh, also how about our union rep who decided to tell everyone that "No" was the only way to vote and he handed out ballots.

What about that?

Anonymous said...

Oh boo-hoo, so the ICE people talked to the staff at your school. How about all the schools the Unity goons visited? And, what about all the written materials sent by Unity that was pro contract? All that effort convinced a lot of the staff members to vote NO!!!!!!!!!!1

Anonymous said...

the hyperbolic B.S. that ICE spews convinced me to vote YES YES YES!

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for all of us if this went through. We will regret it for a long time.

Anonymous said...

The strong arm tactics, lies and BS that Unity spews made me vote NO!NO!NO!NO!

Anonymous said...

No matter what the outcome of the contract, we should all vote out ANY Unity member!!!!

Anonymous said...

To all the nutcases who think we chapter leaders are fixing the vote:

Spend your time on something useful like figuring out who killed JFK (oh, by the way, that's John Kennedy, not Jeff Kaufman you paranoid bunch of pinheads!)

Anonymous said...

As a chapter leader, I want to say that I don't mind people questioning the vote. There were a lot of chances to cheat. I would not put it past some of the Unity people to mess with the ballots. I say this because of all the pressure I received from my higher ups in the union. Paranoia is only paranoia if there is no reality to base one's fear. I'm sorry to say that there are real concerns.

Anonymous said...

I am now in a new school, however, in my old school the ballot box was left unattended all day in a dark room. Teachers were told to go in and vote. I do believe this is illegal.