It has been two days since the Wednesday Delegate Assembly and I am still having a tough time understanding the significance, if any, of what actually happened when the UFT leadership was rebuffed by a majority of the Delegates on a political endorsement. A clear majority of 55% voted to reject the endorsement of Corey Johnson for comptroller and four other candidates.
The Delegate Assembly is normally a rubber stamp for Michael Mulgrew, Leroy Barr, and the rest of the Union's leadership from Unity Caucus. Many, possibly a majority of the Delegates, belong to Unity where they sign a membership obligation that binds them: "To support the decisions of Caucus / Union leadership in public or Union forums." In exchange, they get perks from the UFT. Leadership positions are never rejected by the Delegates but it happened on Wednesday. For those who do not understand the possible importance, please take a look at analysis from a veteran retiree who is no stranger to UFT politics that was at ICE-mail and EdNotes:
I think that anger over the current UFT mayoral endorsement forums was a contributing factor to the rejection of Unity's endorsement reso at yesterday's DA.
First you had Unity Guy [Dave] Pecararro throw a wrench into the works by feeling compelled to speak against the reso (ironically because of an anti-democratic, arbitrary Unity rule about amending resos, or unbundling endorsements, or something).
Then, the other speaker was also against the reso, and both he and Pecarraro were well spoken and clear. That presented a very negative overall picture before the vote.
Add to that, that there is an institutional memory of similar DA objections to Unity endorsements in the past, often made very eloquently by Jonathan Halabi.
Then there is the burn factor: The fact that the UFT's mayoral endorsements are the kiss of death. (By the way, do you remember that Bill Thompson's education advisor, and probable choice for Chancellor was Meryl Tisch? Yes, Meryl fucking Tisch! And UFT endorsed him!)
Then there is the pandemic era anonymous digital voting that lets Unity members have some cover to vote their conscience.
And the cherry on top was the mayoral forum charade where Yang - because of "viability" - was invited at the expense of other more progressive, more pro-labor candidates; as though all the forums (crappy as they were) leading up to the "Final 4-um" meant nothing. All that mattered was public polling. That pissed off more people than Mulgrew realized.
Add it all up and you've got an endorsement smackdown and a very shaken Unity leadership.....
Because of electronic voting at the DA's, Staff Director Leroy Barr can't see who is voting against the leadership like in live meetings. District Representatives keep chapter leaders and delegates in line by sitting together to make sure they do what they are supposed to.
What happens next? I doubt there will be that many more electronic DA's with secret ballot voting. But for now, according to Michael Mulgrew, the UFT is planning a special DA for a mayoral endorsement where I have heard from multiple sources that the Union will be endorsing Scott Stringer and maybe Maya Wiley as a second choice (rank choice voting is here but few understand it). The question to ask is this: Is that what our rank and file want? I don't know what the answer to that is.
I would like to add that I do support what David Pecoraro said during the DA about David Weprin for comptroller over Johnson. Weprin is a Jamaica High School graduate who took a principled stand to support the school and then went way above and beyond to save our school when Joel Klein-Dennis Walcott-Michael Bloomberg-Bill de Blasio-Carmen Farina closed us.
Weprin was with us all the way opposing the Department of Education from the start of the closure process in 2009 (we were delayed for a year by a judge) to the final graduation ceremony in 2014. Even in 2013-14 when we were in the last year of phasing out but there was a new mayor, Weprin formed a committee and he worked with us to try to turn what was left of Jamaica High School into a school that would survive as a small school within the school building. He sent a representative to our still very functioning School Leadership Team on several occasions and helped us with a resolution for the local Community Board in support of keeping the school alive that carried unanimously.
Weprin along with Borough President Melinda Katz, several other politicians, and the UFT Chapter made a valiant last stand. Only Bill de Blasio and Carmen Farina know why we were turned down. The main problem with the schools in 2014, as it has been since 2002 and still is in 2021, is mayoral control. We need to discuss that as much as who the next mayor or comptroller will be.
This just came our way on Twitter:
UFT special delegate assembly announced for Monday, April 19th at 4:15 pm. EXEC BD will meet at 3 PM. Mayoral endorsement to be voted on and announced.