As someone who is an admitted union and political junkie, I find it puzzling that so many people don't vote in union or general elections. I shouldn't be surprised.
Most union members are too busy working, taking care of their families or just living to spend too much time thinking about voting. That is why it is essential for those of us who really care about our union to engage with the voters personally to remind them to cast a ballot.
Since the 1997 UFT election, I have tried walking around my school with a staff directory to make sure I have face-to-face contact with every UFT member in the school to urge them to vote. This is what Politics 101 calls the ground game.
At Jamaica High School, people knew I was coming and many would tell me they voted before I could speak to them. Still, some of my biggest supporters in every election did not get a ballot or didn't know how to deal with the complex instructions that come with it. My educated guess is that there are many schools out there where there is no person running around getting out the vote. Therefore, it is not surprising that turnout is so low in UFT elections citywide.
This year I am contacting my old Jamaica High School friends and colleagues by email or phone while running around Middle College High School at La Guardia Community College, my current school, with a staff list to get out the vote. I am amazed by how many people have still not received a ballot in their home mail as of this morning.
If a member does not yet have a ballot, please have them call 1-800-529-5218 immediately. The American Arbitration Association will mail the member a fresh one. The person who answers at AAA will ask some identifying information and then ask what division a member is in. The answer is high school, middle school, elementary school or functional (non teaching). This phone call needs to be made by Wednesday, May 18. Completed ballots must be received at AAA by May 25, 2016 to be counted.
If members are really serious about changing the UFT, now is the time to get out the vote. Join me in spreading the word in any way possible. We may not win but I can assure the readers of this blog that I will do everything I can to make sure everyone I know has voted.