The letter below is from a local leader in response to NYSUT leadership's offer to send to presidents lists of our members who did and didn't vote earlier this month.
After sitting on this for a couple of days - I finally formulated my thoughts on the offer to get a list of my members who did not vote.
As disappointing as it is to hear that only 40% of NYSUT members voted, what is more disappointing, for me, is the response by NYSUT leadership. Blaming the results of the November 4th election on the rank-and-fie membership not voting is at best misdirection and at worst an unforgivable lack of understanding for the current circumstances most members find themselves in.
Many of us feel that it was NYSUT's silence in the Gubernatorial election and flawed (and subsequently failed) plan to elect low level Democrat's in the Senate, that left members un-motivated to participate in this election. It seems pretty obvious Justin Wagner was not going to get members to the voting booth. We already turned the Senate Democratic and the Governor with the help of the IDC worked behind the scenes to steal this success from us. Putting all of our hopes on this same strategy virtually guaranteed we would be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The reality is, individual Senators and Assembly members make little difference in New York. It is the three or four men in the room that determine the policies we live under. Whether or not Justin Wagner won or lost it would have made at best a marginal difference for our members, even if we voted in a Democratic senate, he was destined to be a Senator of a party in the minority. It is clear now that the IDC is still alive and kicking.
Our members were not fools, gullible or lazy, they were confused. It is clear to everyone that Andrew Cuomo will not rest until he destroys our profession and unity. Our members correctly identify him as the biggest problem in the state and wanted us to lead them towards a solution. NYSUT's enforced silence on the Governor's race conveyed a sense of hopelessness to the membership and they responded the way hopeless people always do. I agree that 40% turnout is incredibly disappointing, but I do not believe the membership is at fault. After spending six million dollars in this campaign, how many of our members, or Presidents, can say what the strategy was. We had an opportunity to bring the Governor below a 50% threshold, which would have been a career ending embarrassment for him. Despite our silence he only earned 52.5% of the vote. If we had given our members a plan to address their reality they would have voted. When we convey hopelessness, they give up. It is a problem with leadership not membership.
This leadership team promised a *NEW* NYSUT. This leadership team promised militancy. This leadership team promised that NYSUT will be the voice that cannot be ignored. This leadership team called Cuomo the Scott Walker of NY - but now suddenly they want to endorse Cuomo while the rest of the state has to fight against that. If we are to believe that the Revive NYSUT rhetoric was anything other than a cynical ploy to oust the former officers of NYSUT (because they were moving away from Randi and blind support for , the core, Cuomo), the NYSUT officers must make real moves towards engagement.
So, in short, do NOT send me a list of my members who did not vote. Send me a viable plan to oust the politicians that are supporting the corporate reform movement. Send me a list of candidates who are going to repeal the Tax Levy Cap & GEA. Send me a list of candidates who want to revoke Common Core. But do not send me a list that tells my members that it is their fault.
There you have it.