Why have UFT elections been pushed back to May this year? Traditionally, they have taken place in March or April. The 2013 ballots were counted on April 25. In 2010 it was early April and back in 2007 it was in late March. It is strange that elections are taking place this year in May. Ballots will be mailed to member homes on May 5 and will be counted on May 26. According to the UFT Constitution, this is permitted but the cynic in me thinks the reason for postponing the election is to increase the Unity Caucus vote.
Unity Caucus is Michael Mulgrew's faction of the UFT that has run the union since the sixties. They are a well oiled machine and will do anything to keep power.
Why May and not the traditional late March or April for the election? Well May is precisely the month where UFT members will be receiving a 3.5% salary increase. Unity's thinking seems to be that people will get some money and reward Mulgrew with their vote. That looks like a major reason to delay the voting this year.
Unity will send their army of District Representatives, Special Representatives, Chapter Leaders and Chapter Advocates around to remind people in the schools about their May 1 salary increases right while they simultaneously make people aware that the UFT election ballot was mailed on May 5.
Do you think anyone without an opposition person in a high profile position in a school is going to remember that 2% of this 3.5% is money from the last round of collective bargaining that most other city unions got back from 2008-2010. Half of the 8% raises the city owes us from those years will still not have been added to our paychecks even in May. In addition, 87.5% of the arrears that has backed up since 2009 still has not been paid to us. That money will not be released to us until 2017 through 2020.
Add to the money that there will be a huge pro-union publicity campaign culminating in May that Mulgrew talked about at the Delegate Assembly yesterday around the Friedrichs Supreme Court case. This case is horrid as it would deprive the unions of agency fees so people would not have to pay anything to the union and would still get union benefits if the unions lose which looks likely. However, why not do actions in June when the case will be decided or right now? The union campaign will have no impact on the five conservative Supreme Court Justices so why do it at the same time as the UFT election?
As I see it, the campaign is for the membership. Its goal is to maximize the Unity vote and subtly call anyone who says anything against the leadership anti-union.
Am I being too cynical? Is all of this timing just a coincidence? If I was on the Election Committee I would be questioning the calendar of the election coinciding with the Friedrichs campaign and the salary increase but I am not on the committee. I will tell MORE-New Action.
I have a grudging kind of respect filled with disgust at how the Unity Caucus machine operates. Vladimir Putin, or for that matter Mao Zedong, would be envious of the loyalty Unity gets from its members as working conditions in the schools continue to deteriorate. All I hear about is tears and resignation from more and more UFT members about a job that is becoming impossible in the schools while the UFT spin is that things have never been better.