Sunday, January 27, 2013

UFT Election Nuts and Bolts, Revised

The UFT election committee met this past week and even though these dates and numbers have to be officially ratified at the Feb. 4 UFT Executive Board meeting, it is expected that the official election campaign will begin with petitioning at the Feb. 6 Delegate Assembly when petitions will be available. On Feb. 7 they will be available in the borough offices. {if there are any changes I will update this post.}

The daunting task of petitioning forces anyone serious about running to join a slate. There are expected to be 3 slates: MORE, New Action and Unity.

Excuse the last post as the send button betrayed me.

Here are the crucial dates and deadlines:

Petitions available - Feb 6 at DA
Due - March 6

Someone counted 18 school days to get all this done. It would have been less if there was a full mid-winter break --- and be sure to remind people on those days why they are in school.

The tediousness of petitioning really hurts opposition groups since so much of their energy goes into getting the signatures needed to get on the ballot. Note that signing a petition is just helping get on the ballot, not an endorsement of vote. Thus many Unity people trolling for sigs will sign MORE and vice versa. The important thing is to get this crap out of the way so resources can be devoted to campaigning and lit distribution.

The sigs needed: 900 for the top officers, 100 for everyone else. Sounds easy? Not easy when trying to manage hundreds of candidates. It takes a total mobilization to get this done. (At the Feb. 9 MORE meeting we will be holding a petition signing party where everyone can sign all the petitions. So put that date on your calendar if you can come out and help.)

Ballots are sent out to the homes on April 3 and must be in the hands of  American Arbitration no later than April 24. The vote count will take place the next day at a hotel in Manhattan on April 25. The vote count is public and any UFT member may attend. What a fun day that is.

It is in this 3-week period right after the spring break (which takes away a week of campaigning) that the ground game of get out the vote must be played by MORE members and supporters to get people to return their ballots.

Some people think just reminding people is enough but UFT elections are not high on the agenda and the ballot often gets lost in a pile and thrown out. Some ground game players urge people to bring in the ballots to school and people mark them and the mail goes out en masse. The more schools that play the ground game the higher the vote totals for the MORE slate will be as most non-voters would tend to vote anti-Unity. Don't forget, 75% of the working members do not vote.

Well over 90% of the voters just check the slate box on the top page of the 20 page ballot and ignore all the names inside. The few who pick and chose candidates have no real impact -- you will see some people vary by no more than a few hundred votes, inconsequential.

Now for the confusion -- I tried to explain some of this at the MORE meeting and people were nodding out -- was it me or the material?

Here are the breakdowns of the new numbers on the executive board.

Ad Com grows from 11 to 12 with the addition of a VP for non DOE employees -- ie the home day care workers, nurses, etc. All UFT members vote for them and they appear on every ballot.

Ex Bd - 90 (up from 78) [Add the 12 Adcom who are defacto EB  members for a total of 102.]

Here is the breakdown:

EB at large - 48 (up from 42) -- All UFT members vote for these positions (including retirees)  and they will appear on every ballot. [This tactic gives Unity guaranteed control of the EB by making more at large than divisions - confusing, I know, but trust me].

Level -based - 42 (up from 36). People running for these positions will only appear on the ballots in the divisions they run in.

Elementary  - 11 -- only elementary school teachers may vote for them (not secretaries, guidance, social workers, etc.) If you are an elementary school teacher just checking the MORE box on the ballot is a vote for all 11. (We have a star-studded cast running for these slots -- great teachers, great union activists and even a movie star -- Jamie Fidler (star of American Teacher). There are about 35,000 elementary school teachers - pretty sad they get only 11 seats.

Middle School - 5 -- only middle school teachers may vote for them (not secretaries, guidance, social workers, etc.) If you are an middle school teacher just checking the MORE box on the ballot is a vote for all 11. We also have an amazing group running for these positions, including the always amazing Francesco Portelos. Last election there were about 12,000 in this category which is narrowed to traditional middle schools which are disappearing -- K-8 counts as elem and 6-12 as hs.

High School  - 7 (up from 6) -- only high school teachers may vote for them (not secretaries, guidance, social workers, etc.) If you are an high school teacher just checking the MORE box on the ballot is a vote for all 11. We also have an amazing group running for these positions: from the old ICE/TJC guard - Kit Wainer, James Eterno, Peter Lamphere -- as knowledgeable a group as you can find -- and the new guard: Emily Giles, (CL)  Rosie Fraschella, Seku Braithewaite and Nicole Reilly (CL).
There were about 19,000+ in this division in 2010.

*****In other words, the 70,000 Plus teachers get only 23 out of 102 seats on the EB and that folks is the basic underlying undemocratic nature of the UFT election process.

I feel MORE has the best shot at winning the high school EB positions but has to beat the Unity plus New Action totals, not impossible of there is a ground game in the high schools where an estimated 5000 out of 19000 people voted last time. A few more thousand votes would put MORE into these positions. Why would 7 out of 102 be meaningful? Let's leave this issue for another time.

Functional - 19 (up from 14). This massive division (over 50,000) , including all non-teachers --- retirees, social workers, psychologists, para, etc is where Unity has enormous strengths and will win this division overwhelmingly due to the retiree vote, but also to the absolute lock Unity makes sure to have over each functional chapter --- in case you don't know, paras have their own chapter leader and Unity keeps a lock on all these chapters -- which they use to also keep control of the DA.

I could point out that if MORE won even 60% of the actual teacher vote in elem, ms and hs they would only get 23 out of the 90 seats on the EB -- thus why there are 48 at large (retirees vote) plus 19 functional (retirees vote) and only 11 elementary, 5 middle and 7 high schools. In addition the elementary, middle school and hs veeps would all go to Unity too (retirees vote for top officers).

If you want to see the true undemocratic nature of the UFT just look at the paragraph above.

BUT -- if MORE captured the majority of the working teacher vote even with the 23 seats that would be a massive game changer in that MORE would have control at the school level and that would mean big changes at the DA. That is the long term goal of MORE -- not to win a few seats on the EBoard and be satisfied as New Action is from getting the gift from Unity but to fight for real changes in the UFT.

Do I think that over 75 people showed up yesterday at the MORE monthly meeting on an ice cold Saturday in January is a sign of something brewing? You bet I am. But if people out there just gripe without doing anything about supporting MORE in an active way, things will move very slowly.

The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.

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