Thursday, April 13, 2017


We have a breakdown of the New York State United Teachers election from last Saturday's Representative Assembly. Votes in the NYSUT election are weighted. I can't begin to explain how it is done but can say Unity won big in the election. That is not good news for teachers but these figures reveal a great deal about the state of our statewide umbrella union.

Here are the results:

Office-Candidate Name- Results- Percentage: 

President Andrew Pallotta 255,356.0627       74% 
President Michael Lillis 90,673.7738             26%

Exec. VP Jolene DiBrango 247,856.8425      72% 
Exec VP Bianca Tanis 94,339.2187                 28%

1st VP J. Philippe Abraham 244,455.4361        71% 
1st VP Megan DeLaRosa 98,441.0310             29%

2nd VP Paul Pecorale 303,043.1747 

Sec. Treasurer Martin Messner 251,302.1856      74%
Sec. Treasurer Nate Hathaway 90,263.4510           26% 

If we look at our analysis from the 2014 election, the number of weighted voters this election is a little higher than last time (346,030 total for president compared to 328,014 for president in 2014). Unity did much better compared to 2014 and Stronger Together lost a significant number of votes compared to 2014. I was warned by two people in the know that this was going to happen.

In 2014 the UFT made up 34% of the total number of voters. If we assume a third this time, that makes 114,190 from the UFT. Take away those 114,190 UFT votes (they all vote as one) from Pallotta's total and Pallotta still has 141,166 votes while Mike Lillis keeps his 90,674 votes we can assume all came from outside of NYC. It is competitive without the UFT but Pallotta still wins a majority of the non UFT votes.

Unity's reach is mind boggling considering how badly things have gone for public schools over the last few years.

In fact, the percentages in the NYSUT election are remarkably close to the 2016 UFT election where Unity received over 70% of the total vote. However, there is a robust opposition at both the city and state levels that represents tens of thousands of NYSUT members. That is a decent opposition base.

Stronger Together had an uphill struggle for sure at NYSUT with the Unity people in NYC all voting as one. ST did what they could but the Unity machine is as strong as ever, if not stronger. As stated above, this is not good news for all of us as Unity's concessionary union strategy has not led to much in the way of improvements for any of us.

As for the future, Mike Schirtzer, who sits on the UFT Executive Board representing the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) and sat on the Stronger Together Executive Board also representing MORE, told me recently that the main opposition to Unity are MORE-NEW ACTION's seven High School Representatives on the UFT Executive Board. I think we can add to that opposition many small locals around New York State who voted against Unity at NYSUT. Also, a majority (52%) of the union locals in NYS (smaller unions) didn't make it to NYC for the Representative Assembly to vote. Maybe, some of them are with us.

Now, can we please all work together?


Anonymous said...

Same old shit.

Anonymous said...


James Eterno said...

So is the UFT election, but it is done in a very sophisticated way.

Anonymous said...

Well then the only option is the nuclear option, FREDERICHS II.

Harris L said...


I appreciate your tenacity and inclination to be optimistic.

But I'm not quite sure how 25% of the vote, no matter how rigged the opposition victory, constitutes a "robust opposition" or "decent opposition base." I appreciate that there are many committed, energetic and intelligent people who are convinced that union politics and electoral campaigns will ultimately win the day. They may. But we clearly have not found the key to educating and mobilizing an exhausted and demoralized membership.

I don't have the answer. Blogging to each other is an important way to maintain solidarity among the vanguard but it doesn't help us to reach the vast numbers of members who are isolated and immobilized.

I'm not saying don't move forward if people smarter than I think this is the best or only way to proceed. I'm not urging defeatism.

I am asking people to put aside twenty years of this "if there's an election they will come" strategy. Because they are not coming. Those of you most committed to the fight and who work every day in the trenches should look at reality with a fearless eye and reconsider an approach that uses time and resources to achieve the same end every three years.

I know that it is easy to kibbutz and much harder to do. But the doing isn't working and the default sentiment, that Friedrichs will cause sufficient damage to undermine the system and wake the membership to its peril so that it is willing to embrace the opposition, is really a strategy of despair.

But so is doing the same thing year after year with not much more to show for it than some optimistic spinning.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but that's just a lot of hot air.
Frederichs II will get their attention, and there is no way they can rig it so members will stick around. When 35% of membership walks, and THEY are faced with lay offs and pay- cuts, and their own survival, you better believe they will hear us.

Anonymous said...

If 35% leave how will they pay off the building loan? And is that money to pay off the pension obligation? And how much was donated to the Democrat Party?

ed notes online said...

Harris is on the right track. If 35% leave they will cut down expenses and keep on. They will make deals with politician to keep themselves alive an in control.
In fact, after the 35% leave Unity will win with 90% of the vote even if a smaller union.
Even though illegal technically, let's see if a cut down union is really willing to offer any assistance to those who left. People may think they can make them defend them or assist when they have a grievance. Now we know that right now people are not getting the services they should but it can get real bad -- like if you don't get your paycheck who ya gonna call?
What is interesting is that the losing faction in NYSUT might be tempted by other unions and form an alt to NYSUT.

Harris L. said...

Citibank is not foolish.

It took a first mortgage on a piece of prime real estate in downtown Manhattan with a pretty good occupancy rate.

I'm sure that Citibank won't have financed more than about 70% of the value of the property. That means that even if Citibank has to foreclose on the UFT because the UFT can't service the loan that it will come out ahead by taking control of the property and selling it straight to Vornado, Related, Silverstein or any other developer with some ready cash and the UFT headquarters, to the extent that there is still a UFT, will wind up in Canarsie or Outer Mongolia--apologies to Canarsie and Outer Mongolia.

Anonymous said...

And why can't we form our own union in the city EdNotes?

James Eterno said...

What would you suggest as an alternative way of doing things Harry? It is a serious question. Unity could care less if we boycott elections. If we listened to people like Norm and did that in 2016, we don't win high schools and are back with no voice on exec bd. Our 7 have made a real difference just by being there: asking tough questions, introducing resolutions and bringing members to tell their stories.

We do not have the numbers to hit the streets. If we had a protest every day, that too would dilute our energy and most of us would end up terminated if we really did some stuff that is out there.Look at what is happening to Camille just for standing up for members and Sarah Chambers too for standing up for kids in Chicago.

I keep preaching having respected members in each school to give our perspective to counter Unity spin.

By showing there is a real opposition to Unity, we keep hope alive for many teachers. That has kept me pushing on for over 20 years. If anyone has a better idea, please bring it forward either here or on email. I am so all ears.

As for elections, my energy in NYSUT'S election consisted of having dinner with Mike Lillis and some others, writing some pro ST blog pieces and helping at the ST information booth at the RA. That and a few phone calls was my part. It did not exactly take all my energy.

Anonymous said...

you mean "couldn't care less."

Anonymous said...

There are currently too many battle fronts. No one of us has the energy to engage in all of these issues. I was trying to make tiny donations to the causes I support and I am already overwhelmed.

Abigail Shure

Harris L. said...

I don't have an answer, James.

I'm just urging people to be realistic about what elections accomplish.

I wonder exactly how many "real teachers" have any clue whatsoever what is going on in the Executive Board. I've never had any confidence that "real teachers" have any clue what happens in Delegate Assemblies. We communicate that stuff to each other. Does any of what happens there, which seems so important to the people who are bringing resolutions and live-blogging Executive Board meetings get to "real teachers?"

When I was a teacher I had no idea whatsoever what a DA was. I certainly had no idea that an EB, with high school reps on it or not, even existed. Who in Springfield Gardens or Bensonhurst, beyond the relatively small number of activists in MORE and NA, know what goes on there?

The NYSUT election is inside baseball involving, what, 1,000 people? I wasn't referring to that. But the triennial UFT elections involve real time, energy, money, organizing and effort that consistently gets 25% +/- of the vote. I continually hear how the organizing involved helps organize in schools and build chapters. Does it?

I'm just suggesting that people stop assuming the answers and figure out what it all adds up to. I think it adds up to a whole lot less than other people do but I'm no longer in the game and if folks believe it's useful and a good way to use resources--by all means, I wish everyone great good luck.

But 25% support, flat-lined for years, is not evidence of great support and an increasing base for effective opposition and folks might want to consider what that means.

Losing for the sake of losing or because no one has any other idea what to do when an election rolls around has never struck me as a very good political strategy. Perhaps it really might make sense to find a more effective way to call out abusive principals. Perhaps there might be another way to communicate with "real teachers" beyond blogging and Facebooking to each other and believing that it adds up to something.

What we've been doing most definitely doesn't work. When something doesn't work most people try to find something else to do. Everyone except opposition caucuses in the UFT.

That may sound very harsh and I'm sorry if it is. But it's not for me to suggest what else to do at this point in my life and career. It's for teachers in their 30s and 40s who will have to live with the system they work in for another 20 or 30 years and who may watch their union collapse around them during the next five or ten years to figure out. But doing the same thing over and over because that's all anyone can figure out what to do--well, that seems just pointless to me.

James Eterno said...

Your points make sense but what is the alternative? We can give up like most sensible people would do. It is an uneven playing field for sure. The result of us walking away is Unity would be thrilled not to have us challenging them. I am glad Artur, Mike and the others are challenging Unity at the Exec Bd meetings nobody knows about except us inside baseball folks.

Anonymous said...

The alternative Long Island Locals now have LIFE, Long Island Federation of Educators. Right now the group is in its infancy but looking to expand. The goal, to explore alternatives to NYSUT that better meet the needs of the membership in Long Island Locals. NYSUT will listen or locals will be prepared to walk. Worst case scenario collapse the whole thing when Friederichs II becomes the law of the land and rebuild from scratch. Hope not. Change is coming one way or another. the newly elected officers can work with us or not but the party is coming to an end.