A group called Solidarity Caucus is attempting to run in this year's UFT election but they did not meet the threshold of 40 candidates for a slate designation on the UFT election ballot. A slate is a group of people who have similar ideas and all run together as a group. Solidarity only has 33 who met the union's election requirements.
People who want to vote for Solidarity candidates will have to sift through the ballot to find the individual candidates and check them off one-by-one. Well over 90% of UFT voters traditionally check off a slate where they easily vote for hundreds of candidates in one caucus with one mark instead of going through a complicated ballot to split their vote by voting for individuals.
There will be two slates on the ballot who met the election requirements to obtain slate status: Unity (Michael Mulgrew's political party) and MORE-NEW ACTION. You can find my wife Camille and I running for UFT Secretary and Vice President for Academic High Schools respectively on the MORE-NEW ACTION slate.
Solidarity's leader recently complained about MORE-NEW ACTION because our two members on the UFT Election Committee demanded that the UFT election rules should be adhered to by all sides. To my knowledge Solidarity did not object to these rules when they were set up and voted on. The ruling Unity Caucus would probably enjoy seeing a hundred tiny groups run against Unity as it would dilute the opposition vote. MORE-NEW ACTION were perfectly justified in asking the Unity dominated Election Committee to follow its own election rules concerning slate designation and Unity is doing just that. As a result while your NY Teacher newspaper has a Solidarity ad, they will not, and should not, appear as a slate on the ballot with only 33 candidates who obtained the proper number of nominating signatures to get on the ballot.
There is a very good reason why candidates for UFT Officer positions need to get 900 nominating signatures and those who want to run for the Executive Board have to be nominated by at least 100 UFT members. Candidates and slates need to be serious about wanting to run the union and therefore should be able to garner a minimum level of support before being placed on a confusing ballot that will have over a thousand names on it.
To get a slate on the ballot, the UFT election rules that go back as far as I can remember state that "a minimum of 40 candidates for officer and executive board is required for a slate designation." Having a minimum number for a slate designation makes a great deal of sense as just having a few people running as a slate makes a mockery of a complicated process and we could end up with numerous groups of a few people running who are not serious about possibly running the union. Actually, the 40 threshold is too low.
I believe 52 should be the minimum number for a slate. Let's take as a given that the group of 33 actually pulled off a miracle and won the election. Even if those 33 were the greatest campaigners in the world and had the most wonderful program that captivated UFT members so they won the election, they would have virtually no power to run the union because they would have no authority over the Executive Board.
As per the UFT Constitution, the 102 member Executive Board is charged with running the union. The Executive Board consists of 90 elected members as well as the UFT's 12 Officers. The UFT Constitution states in Article V, Section 6: "The Executive Board shall direct the affairs of this organization." Officers only have powers designated by Robert's Rules according to the Constitution and not much more.
President Michael Mulgrew has taken extraordinary powers because his Unity Caucus allows it. Unity members sign a loyalty oath which obligates them to follow the decisions of the leadership in union and public forums. If they don't follow the party line, they lose their union perks (jobs and all expense paid trips to AFT and NYSUT conventions).
Without 52 members, which would make up a majority of the 102 person Executive Board, 12 Officers would have very little power according to the UFT Constitution. A caucus of 33 would have less than a third of the Board and their leader could easily be removed by the Executive Board according to Robert's Rules (see pages 653-654) if Unity controlled 2/3 of that body. This is why a slate should be at least 52 candidates. A group that could only obtain the required signatures for 33 candidates may well have some wonderful ideas but even if they miraculously won, they could not implement any of them and would be beholden to one of the other caucuses who would still have a super-majority on the Board.
For an example of a union president who did not have an executive board behind him, see Steve Conn in Detroit who won the presidency without a strong slate and was soon thereafter thrown out of office.
Being a head without a body is not an ideal way to change a union.
The ICE-UFT BLOG respects everyone's right to run for elected office but rules are there for a reason and should be respected just like we expect principals to honor the provisions of the UFT contract. If the rules are not to your liking, then by all means fight to change them however the rules for obtaining 100 signatures to get on the ballot for the Executive Board and having at least 40 candidates for a slate designation are not onerous.
I ran around Queens and got signatures for candidates on petitions while still managing to help take care of the family, assist with grievances as well as other problems for UFT members (including one of Solidarity's 33 candidates) and teach. Instead of finger pointing at other people for saying that election rules should be respected like we expect the UFT contract to be adhered to, I would hope that people who did not get a slate designation would learn from this experience and admit they made a big mistake.
As for May's UFT election, a vote for any of Solidarity's candidates is a protest vote but if you really want to see the UFT change, the only choice is to vote for the MORE-NEW ACTION slate when your ballot arrives in the mail. We have hundreds of candidates.