As the July 18 Minneapolis AFT Convention approaches, it is worthwhile to point out just how disenfranchised high school teachers in New York City are. In the recent UFT election candidates from the opposition MORE-NEW ACTION won a clear majority of those who voted in the High School Division. MORE-NAC candidates received around 200 votes more than the candidates from AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT President Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus, but Unity has rigged the system so even when Unity loses, they win.
The Unity minority will send all of the UFT high school representatives to the Minneapolis convention. Even though a clear majority of high school teachers who cast a ballot favored the opposition MORE-NEW ACTION caucus that I ran with, we will have zero representation at this summer's AFT convention.
Why is this?
UFT elects its 750 AFT convention delegates on an at large basis. The giant UFT with over 189,000 members is divided into four divisions: elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, functional (non-teaching including retirees who vote in huge numbers). Since UFT members vote at large for who will will represent us at conventions and who will be the divisional vice presidents, even though a majority of the high school teachers who voted in the election don't want Unity, the Unity advantages in the other divisions mean Unity will send all of the delegates to the convention, even from the high schools where Unity finished second.
Since I work in a New York City high school, I couldn't possibly get to Florida to campaign to the many UFT retirees living there. I did go to many high schools as a candidate for Vice President for Academic High Schools and won a majority of the high school votes. What does that mean? High school teachers lose based on the unfairness of the UFT electoral system.
To show the extent of the disenfranchisement of high school teachers in New York City, I thought it would be interesting to see how big a union the New York City high school teachers would be if we were a separate union local. I did a quick investigation and New York City high school teachers on our own would be a very large AFT local indeed. In fact, we would be significantly larger than the entire Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. I believe Philadelphia is the fourth largest AFT K-12 teacher union local, behind only New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.*
Preliminary numbers from the American Arbitration Association showed that 19,539 ballots were sent out to high school members houses in the recent UFT election. Updated numbers increased that total to 19,861.
How does this compare to Philadelphia? The answer comes right from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers website:
The PFT represents more than 16,000 dedicated women and men working in Philadelphia public schools today.
19,861 UFT high school teachers in New York City as opposed to around 16,000 total for the entire Philly local.
MORE-NEW ACTION's majority among high school teachers who voted gets us a mere 7 UFT Executive Board seats on a 102 member Executive Board but no representation at the AFT convention, no high school vice presidency and no representation at the statewide NYSUT convention. New York City High school teachers are truly marginalized by this system.
It would be great if people from outside of New York City understood how undemocratic the UFT truly is and if they would start to pressure for real change to the system since those UFT delegates from Unity are bound by caucus membership obligations to vote as the leadership instructs them to. Those 750 bound delegates are the tail wagging the AFT dog.
*Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S.A. (Philadelphia is number 5) but I had no luck trying to find the size of the Houston Federation of Teachers. There are 65,000 AFT members in all of Texas but it is hard to say how many of those Texas AFT members come from Houston. Texas doesn't have collective bargaining for teachers but if anyone has the Houston information, please send it to us and we will be glad to add it in.
So get off your assess and decertify the UFT as the high school teacher's union.
How would high school members break from the UFT what is the process?
I have been arguing decertification for over 5 years.
Now that you have a little mandate, try to do it.
I have always wondered why we cannot have this debate. Having a long time activist chapter leader like John Elfrank on the decertify side is a good start. What do the rest of you think?
sure, let's decertify HS teachers and take us back to 1958 when teachers had no rights and poverty level salaries. The opposition would have control over a 19,000 member union by getting 2300 votes and winning - a joke.
Even with the awful conditions about half of HS teachers who voted still voted for Unity. MORE must show it can win in every division other than retirees and then we are talking. Keep the union together and go out and organize - not to decertify but to show as a first step that the majority of the 65,000 working teachers - out of a union of 188,000 wants change - that is the first step - then take on functional chapters - and then use rank and file activism to reduce the influence of retirees. This is a strategy that maintains us a viable union - I would still rather have Unity in charge of the big union than run a minor union -
Typical elementary school view. Would keep high school teachers subordinate to do nothing Unity instead of organizing a big local that would be bigger than all but three unions in the country. Let's listen to people like Elfrank and see what we can do. I would wager that a lot more than 2500 anti Unity voters would show up if they could quit the UFT and form or join a militant labor union. Could we join the PBA or TWU local 100?
Can we call it HEXIT? You know like BREXIT?
It sounds like you want my Union dues to pay to send you to a convention.
Majority of high school voters who cast a ballot voted to send seven high executive board candidates and two high school vice presidential candidates including me to AFT Convention. That is a fact. I believe that is how democracy is supposed to work.
A HS,or better a HS MS Union is the only thing that I consider to be feasible.
How does it come about?
Slow down there James. You won the HS seats because New Action flipped into the MORE camp. Otherwise it's a Unity win. And you won exec board seats not convention delegate seats. That is a fact and that's how democracy works. Enjoy your dinners at exec board.
A union of close to 200,000 that only one side has access to most of them. That is how a rigged democracy works. Where it is a level playing field, we did just fine. Yes having New Action back in the opposition is one of the main reasons we won. Nobody is arguing that. More high school teachers voted for us to go to convention than Unity. That's a fact.
Oh Franceso (Anonymous 1:15 PM) you lost and conned your cult.
But why are you hiding behind anonymity? Would you rather hide behind me? Or how about inside me. Mmmmmm. We can always be one.
You are entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts, and facts are stubborn things. The voter form was entirely clear. That's a fact. The votes for exec board are divisional while the votes for delegate seats are at large. That's a fact. Everyone including you knew that. That's another fact. You said that no one argues that the alliance between MORE and New Action is one of "the main reasons" you won. The fact is that it was the only reason you won. Here is another fact; without New Action MORE would have exactly the same number of exec board sears as they did in 2013. Zero. That's a fact. Unfortunately for New Action they did not use this leverage to the greatest effect when they negotiated with MORE how the seats would be allotted. They should have received more. What you fail to accept about democracy is that it is possible to lose no matter how much you and a few close friends in the same echo chamber believe in your cause. What you also fail to realize is that the vast majority of the UFT membership did not vote for you. Nor do they share your point of view. That's another fact. I would also argue that your advocacy for decertification and secession; which even Norm agrees would lead to the end of the UFT's existence is dangerous to the interests every member including the HS teachers you claim to represent. In fact I would commend Norm for his courage to state that fact, despite the obvious popularity of decertification on this blog and among your caucus mates. I wonder if the HS voters who cast their votes for you knew that you advocate for policies that would end the existence of the UFT. I wonder if that fact had been revealed to them if they would have voted for you. In particular I wonder if the New Action voters knew that fact when they signed on to the alliance with you and handed the exec board seats to you.
Looking to decertify the HIgh Schools from the rest of the union is a tremendously unstable and irresponsible endeavor. You would be looking to weaken one of the stronger unions in a time when unions are shrinking and under attack. Do you even understand that the teachers union was fractured at one time and only won the gains that you and your colleagues enjoy after they were united to form the UFT? Prior to this, teachers received below poverty pay, fewer vacations, less sick time, no preps, endured dress codes and were at-will employees with no due process rights. Is this what you and MORE are advocating? Because if it is you should make your intentions known to those who voted for you. It is upsetting to me, that a member of my executive board would be advocating for the destruction of my Union. I certainly do not want that type of representation. I hope everyone will understand this next time we have our union elections. I know I will make sure they they do.
When did I advocate for decertification? All the comments here are now official MORE positions? Give me a break.
Majority of members don't want MORE, NAC or Unity. Most don't vote. I never said voter form said we should go to convention. Fact is majority of high school teachers who cast a ballot voted for MORE-NAC and wanted us at convention. I know the game is rigged with at large voting with almost 200,000 people, most of whom we could never campaign to. It is amazing we won high schools. Finally, I was elated to run with NAC again. Give them all the credit you want.
These were mostly anonymous comments on a blog. I don't think I would ever comment on some Unity article and then say my comment is the official Unity position.MORE has no role on this blog. Anonymous trolls here have taken making stuff up to a new height.
The ignorance that passes for information here is astounding. If we decertified high schools, we would hook on with a different union. It would be a better one without Mulgrew or his loyalty oath followers who write here. I am not anti union. I am anti-Unity.
Post a Comment