Many of us have spent a great deal of time the last month working diligently to oppose the UFT contract. Ellen Fox and Norm Scott from the Movement of Rank and File Educators observed the ballots being opened yesterday by the American Arbitration Association and today they will be there for the vote count. We will know later this afternoon how the vote turned out. My understanding is the turnout was quite high.
There will not be just one count. There are many different bargaining units in the UFT. Teachers are the largest but there are Paraprofessionals, Occupational Therapists-Physical Therapists-Nurses, Guidance Counselors, Secretaries, Lab Specialists, Psychologists-Social Workers and more.
It is very difficult to predict the results as there is not scientific polling. We do know that the Unity Caucus (Michael Mulgrew's faction of the UFT) has control of many schools through their chapter leaders who sign the statement that they will support the decisions of the caucus in union and public forums. Many UFT members are very busy and look to their chapter leaders for guidance. This gives Unity a major head start. In addition, union staff did a thorough job in coming to the schools to sell the contract to the membership and Mulgrew was even given press space to advocate for it.
Against those odds, the opposition did its best online and we received some help from other unions. We also did get some press coverage. However, I don't think we had nearly as many hard copy leaflets out in the schools as compared to the 2005 or 1995 contract votes so we will see if the online campaign made up for the lack of literature in the schools.
My sources tell me that the people with the most to lose from the contract, the ATRs, voted overwhelmingly against the contract. At Jamaica I can tell you only one person wanted to vote secretly which I of course encouraged for all. Everyone else openly showed me they voted NO.
Virtually everyone thinks the contract will carry with the teachers. If it is defeated I would be very surprised. I would also be astonished if it gets 84% approval like the TWU contract did recently. Considering the resources we don't have and what we are up against, anything over 35% would be a success for the opposition forces as I see it. We'll know later today what happened.