In the first post-ratification meeting of the Executive Board our Union’s leadership sent a clear message that any attempt to reform our voting procedures to make them fair and free of the appearance of impropriety will be met with stiff opposition including tactics rarely used.
Opposition Board members proposed two resolutions to permit the UFT to denounce its recent anti-democratic shift in policy to permit unfettered access to staff mailboxes and to assure that voting procedures are secret and confidential. These resolutions, as proposed, were met with stiff resistance demonstrating that our Union’s leadership knows the ratification vote was tainted and needs to be rerun.
Back in 1962 when our Union was in its infancy the Board of Education passed a “General Circular” reaffirming opposition union members’ right to utilize staff mailboxes to distribute union-related material and denying the leadership sole access to this vital means of membership communication.
This right was reaffirmed, again, in the precedent setting grievance of Harriet Baizerman in which an opposition Union member, originally barred from placing literature in the mailboxes, was permitted the access. Chancellor Irving Anker reaffirmed this principle and opposition members have utilized this method of informing the membership of important issues ever since.
That was until October 21, 2005 when the Staff Director, acting on advice of Union counsel, instructed opposition members that the First Amendment does not apply during non-Union office election times.
Outraged by the fact that Special Reps and District Reps placed biased literature supporting the contract into members’ mailboxes and the absurd position that opposition literature was not similarly protected a resolution was proposed to clarify our right.
After much heated discussion the resolution was “tabled to kill,” which we surmise means that our Union no longer supports the First Amendment right of our members. There is talk that the article in the New York Teacher dated February 17, 2005 affirming these rights was issued in error. It was not clear whether a retraction will be printed.
The second resolution affirming the right of a secret and confidential ballot met with a firestorm of vitriol. After declaring that this right is “perhaps one of our most precious rights’ Randi proceeded to defend the fact that marked ballots could be easily seen through the two envelopes that were provided.
According to our president anytime there is knowledge of a potential impropriety in the voting process it is incumbent upon the opposition to bring these matters to the staff director so something could be done about it,
Just what could be done about transparent envelopes after they were all mailed to the schools?
In any case it does appear that our leadership is preparing for a full defense of the tainted vote and the denial of the protection of our First Amendment rights.
32,000 members voted no. How many will agree that the opposition must remain silent?