Monday, August 26, 2013

Ed Notes Redux: UFT Election Results, 1999 - New Action Vote Drops 75% Over Years But They Gain More Ex Bd Seats

New Action Off the cliff
New Action  received 31% in ‘91. New Action received 24% in ‘99. PAC received 2%.... Ed Notes, May, 1999 election analysis
New Action with this tremendous drop in vote totals between '99 (11,500) and '13 (3600 - half from retirees) goes from 'winning" 6  Ex Bd seats in '99 to ten EB seats in '13. Ahhhh, democracy at work! 
I've been going through the archives for a project geared to making print copies of ed notes available online. Until that is done I am publishing items of interest that might provide perspective.

Note the trend from '91, soon after NA was formed from a merger of Teachers Action Caucus and New Directions in 1990 when they got 31% of the vote. By '99 the opposition totals dropped to 26% -- call it the Randi effect -- she was initially selling reform of the union. That had disappeared by 2001 but NA was not capable of organizing and when totals dropped again in the 2001 election Randi jumped in to buy herself an opposition caucus.

For the record, as an independent Ed Notes, after the 2001 election I tried to broker a united front between all opposition forces but it fell apart, which led me to start thinking of the need for an alt caucus and the concept of a citywide edition of Ed Notes (beginning in Fall, 2002 after I retired) which became the basis of ICE. It took another 10 years to forge the highest degree of a united front with MORE (except for the now outlier, New Action). So much irony all over the place.

There were 2 opposition caucuses running in 1999: New Action and Progressive Action, a group focused on the licensing issue. Note return totals- so much higher than today. Did the NA sellout have an impact on lowering vote totals? NA in the high schools with Paul Milstein running for HS veep received 2880 to John Soldini's 2517 yet Soldini was elected because the entire union voted for that position. Union dues without representation. Throw that tea in the bay.

In the 2013 election New Action got 452 slate votes to MORE's 1430 and Unity's 1592. Even better. NA's total votes has dropped in 14 years from 11,500 to 1900 working people plus 1800 retirees, many of whom still think NA is a real opposition. In other words almost half the NA vote came from retirees in '13. So how is that collaboration deal with Unity working out?

Yet, even better, New Action with this tremendous drop in vote totals goes from 'winning" 6 (or 7) Ex Bd seats in '99 to ten EB seats in '13. Ahhhh, democracy at work!

Think of these numbers given that 30,000 more ballots were mailed out in 2013 and about 4000 more in HS. Also note that over 17,000 votes were returned by retirees in '99 and about 22,000 14 years later with a much larger membership pool. Even though 52% of the total vote in a weak turnout, even retirees (with 25,000 more ballots mailed) are losing interest.

Here is my commentary from the May 1999 edition of Ed Notes:

UFT Elections: Looking at the numbers (non-slate votes not included). PAC votes basically irrelevant,except in Academic HS, so not included. 

Interesting Points 

Retirees are the happiest people in our union. They returned the highest percentage (51%) of the ballots, because they clearly had the time to wade through all the names. (The other 49% were too busy getting ready for The Earlybird Special.) Retirees are happy with the way things are going and voted for Unity by 85%. The 33,000 retirees are the 3rd biggest block in the union. After the massive retirement expected in 2 years, they will clearly be the largest voting block. At some point we have to deal with the issue of the impact retirees have on the working conditions of active teachers. If retirees didn’t vote, Unity would have received 67% of the total vote in- stead of 74%, still a significant victory.

Election Facts
Ballots mailed: 136,565
Ballots returned: 49,108 (36%)
Ballots not returned: 103,023 (64%)
Ballots mailed to active members: 103, 023 Ballots returned by active members: 31,908 (31%) Ballots mailed to retirees: 33,542
Ballots returned by retirees: 17,200 

There has been little change in voting patterns for last 5 elections. Unity’s share of the vote has grown from 69% in 1991. NAC received 31% in ‘91. New Action received 24% in ‘99. PAC received 2%. Their impact was minimal, other than perhaps causing some people who would have voted with the opposition, to not vote at all and could explain, to some extent, the higher than usual (69%) of ballots not returned by active teachers. That’s over 70,000 ballots not returned
by ctive teachers. Is it apathy or a silent vote against all caucuses?

Academic High Schools
The only division where New Action had some success. They won half the Academic high school Executive Board seats (the rest were at large) and received about 52% of the vote. With PAC’s vote added in, the opposition polled 55% of the vote in this division. They did not win the Academic HS VP position because these positions are voted on at large, a change instituted by Unity Caucus after the last time an opposition candidate won this position.This is a bad policy for the union as it disenfranchises the divisional voters. 

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