Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Ballots must be received by the American Arbitration Association today as the UFT election ends. Tomorrow is the vote count. I am not going but I am very interested in the results. Camille Eterno will represent MORE-NEW ACTION along with Jonathan Halabi and some of our retirees.

Norm Scott did a thorough analysis of what to expect over at Ed Notes. He is predicting a big Unity win and he is not seeing the needle moving much in either direction this year compared to previous UFT elections. For the elementary, middle school, functional (non teaching), and retiree divisions, I agree with Norm. For the high schools, the needle doesn't need to move much to make a real difference.

In 2013, New Action and MORE received 52% of the high school vote in the election running separately. I am hoping the combined groups win a majority in the high schools so we have fully independent, non Unity endorsed representation on the UFT Executive Board for the first time since 2007.

New Action and Unity cross endorsed candidates for Executive Board seats in the last three elections. NAC remained independent, as their representatives voted as they saw fit, but they could only go so far or they would risk losing Unity backing. That real, if only implied, limitation will end if NAC is elected with MORE as we are all in full opposition to Unity.

I predict that if MORE-NEW ACTION wins, having people like Mike Schirtzer and Arthur Goldstein along with three others from MORE joining Executive Board veteran Jonathan Halabi and another NAC representative will change the Executive Board's tone. Yes opposition will only have 7 seats out of 102 but that is sufficient to matter in the sense that I believe this group of 7 will make some real noise and then try to organize in the schools based on issues they raise at the Executive Board.

Hopefully, MORE will spread the word into the schools in ways not seen in years, or really ever before, about what is going on within the Executive Board. A regular high school newsletter is essential and was distributed this year. That should be expanded next year.

On the other hand, should we lose the high schools, this election will be a real disaster for the opposition to Unity. This is of course very possible as we don't know if having the Solidarity candidates on the ballot as a third choice will cost us the high schools or if Unity's kinder and gentler approach to campaigning, where they ignored us rather than attack us in public, will net them more high school votes.

A loss at the high school level would mean it is really back to the drawing board time for the opposition. I hope that does not occur. Conversely, if we win the high schools, it would send an important message that even though many of us have been displaced from our closed schools, we still know that Unity has failed the membership and should be held accountable.

We'll know the results tomorrow. Since Camille and Norm will be there, we will get numbers to you as soon as we have them as long as I am not in class.


Anonymous said...

Does the Unity machine care about opposition numbers in the election as long as they win? In other words, if say MORE got 20% of the total vote, would Unity at least realize that there are a lot of non-happy teachers out there and maybe they should get off their asses and do something for the teachers in the trenches?

Anonymous said...

Unity couldn't care less unless as long as they hold on to power.

Anonymous said...

Every time a teacher complains to me about something I simply ask, "Did you vote?". 99% of the time they say "no". I then tell them they have no ground to complain. (Yes, the retiree vote is unjust but the only way to beat that is to get the rank and file to ALL vote.) Just imagine if every single NYC teacher made an informed vote by researching the track record and platform that Unity stands for. Unity would be done in a heartbeat. The only people that would vote for Unity are the folks who work for them. Unity would be outnumbered 10 to 1 if every teacher not only knew how they operated, but if they got off their asses and voted.

James Eterno said...

I dream of this at every election, work as hard as I can to spread the word and wish I could wake them all up.

Harris L. said...

I certainly hope that the result tomorrow is gains for the slate in the HS executive board seats.

I also hope that MORE/NA will conduct a full post-election assessment that doesn't simply ratify everyone's pre-election inclinations if the vote is less favorable. Meaning, that in 2019 if the slate has control of executive board seats and has used them well to raise important issues, fight again and harder. If there are no gains I hope that whoever is in power in MORE/NA will not assume, automatically, that opposition caucuses "are supposed" to run in union elections because they are such "great and effective" organizing tools.

As I said, fingers-crossed for tomorrow. But, also, let's learn from experience, if experience is not so favorable and question deeply what opposition caucuses should do with their time, money and limited resources that advances a range of goals beyond "if there's an election, we must run."

Chris Sullivan said...

Well the More caucus got me on board and my whole dept. I'm ready to help out and join

James Eterno said...

Thanks Chris.

ed notes online said...

Chris - hope to have you aboard - win or lose there is still much to do.
Unity is very concerned about the numbers even if they win. When numbers creep into the 35% range in the total school vote that puts the opposition within striking range in the election after that. That would mean winning HS and MS and getting elem schools in sights.
The numbers affect UNity's positions - they will say what they have to say to try to convince people - and if we push the abusive principal stuff and a harder contract stance they will be forced to move. That is why this vote will actually have an impact on the 2018 contract -- if things don't change much they see it as a mandate to continue their policies.
James - Hope you are feeling better. I agree with most of what you said but I do not see the loss of the high school seats as a disaster. I see that more of a lesson to the opposition - an organizing lesson. We know there are votes out there to get and they just weren't got.
The fact that this will be close and that Solidarity could keep MORE/NA from winning is a weakness, win or lose. I remember last summer we had a goal of 3000 HS votes to match the totals NA were getting 20 years ago. Unity used to get around that too. I think it became clear that that number was going to be tough to reach for any caucus -- and people need to analyze why that vote has dropped - the obvious answer is the break up of the large high schools and the weakening of the union generally and the opposition in the high schools specifically. Unity and the DOE may look at the outcome as a win-win.
Some of us from ICE - including James if he can walk - will be meeting at a diner Friday after school to sift through the numbers.

James Eterno said...

It is a disaster if we lose high schools. It will be the first time since 1993 election where there is zero voice, nothing, questioning anything Unity except for whatever limited impact we have at DA.

ed notes online said...

I don't put as much stock in the Ex bd process since it is often a black hole - nothing much escapes. When we had the seats from 2004-7 while you guys did a great job, the opposition didn't grow out of that. But I still hope we win because we have a great group of people and with social media we would have a chance to do something with these seats.