Friday, May 8, 2015

The Great Scott-Schirtzer Debate: Boycott UFT Elections or Not - Friday, May 8, 4PM

The first in a series of Ed Notes posts on why the UFT elections are meaningless and should be boycotted.

75-80% of the UFT working members boycotted the UFT 2013 elections. These people are actually voting - with their feet - in a meaningless election with nothing at stake.

I don't know how often I have to say it -- Unity has so stacked the deck for the past 60 years, it is not possible to dislodge them from power. Not only that, but by buying off New Action, which is now a bogus opposition appearing on the ballot to siphon off votes from the legitimate opposition, it is almost impossible to win the 7 high school exec bd seats, which New Action, when it was legit, used to win in almost every election. Last time, MORE got around 1335 HS votes, Unity 1575 and NA around 450 which went into the Unity line. Thus, if NA has run with the opposition instead of in partnership with Unity, Unity would have lost those seats. The UFT Exec Bd is 100% Unity endorsed and has been since 2007. Before that, since 1991 there were a few voices of opposition on the board.

At one time, many of us felt it was really important to try to win those 7 out of 100 seats. I no longer feel that way. NA had those seats for over a decade without Unity support and ICE/TJC had them for 3 years. What good did it do in the overall scheme of things?

Mike Schirtzer has been arguing with me over this issue  -- we have almost daily chats and it always comes up. So we decided to debate this afternoon in a Manhattan diner in front of a group of ICE and MORE people who will be free to toss spoonfuls of rice pudding at us.

This will rival the Lincoln-Douglas debates - Mike is Douglas - I'm growing a Lincoln like beard right now.

Since the 2010 UFT elections, I have urged the groups I was in - ICE in 2010 and MORE in 2013 - to boycott what I would loosely term the "election," and "election" so illegitimate, that the very act of running justifies what is a fundamentally undemocratic process.

I have been refining my case for boycott for the upcoming 2016 elections. Mike Schirtzer disagrees and offered to debate me. Today is the official opening of my boycott campaign.

I sense I may not be able to convince MORE but I will try to get them not to run and leave Mulgrew, running on the Unity and New Action line with 100% of the vote - instead of the 80% or so he would get if MORE ran. 

Today, Mike and I and the other participants will not only examine the issue of boycotting the election or not but also engage in an analysis of past election outcomes. 

This is not defeatism on my part, as some people have charged in the past when I pointed out we cannot win. Oh, just believe and miracles and they will happen. Or I hear, "we know we can't win but an opposition must run." Why?

I will discuss how running in an election when you know you cannot win plays out with people you are trying to get to vote for you. Do you lie to them, worried they won't bother to vote if they know it doesn't mean anything?

Thus a very good point on my side. Don't lie to people, give them the real deal and try to formulate a plan to force changes that would one day make UFT elections relevant.

To my mind, given that raising the vote totals in elections has been futile -- and I believe the Unity people want totals to rise given the embarrassment to the union of having 52% of the votes come from retirees.

So my theory is that by making the vote totals drop and thereby probably raising the retiree (who always vote in higher numbers) percentage would put the election in the place it deserves - a farce.

I will advocate the uncaucus concept -- how to run a campaign in an election season without actually running a slate as a way to gather support for demanding massive changes in the UFT election process by denying them enough votes to the extent that the election becomes the farce it really is. I will present the case that participating in the farce endorses the fundamentally undemocratic process.

While all this goes on, Mike will be advocating the same old same old - and thus meeting the Einstein definition of insanity - doing the same thing and expecting different results. But he can enjoy eating his rice pudding.


  1. In all elections, if you don’t vote, you cannot complain with the results. The end.

    1. When the election is like the ones in Russia the only complaint is why even hold an election? What people need to worry about more than running in an election is what has to be done to force the kind of changes that would make the election meaningful. My solution is to deny them any valid data and turn the election into the farce it really is. You can't attack a phony election process once you are willing to participate in the fraud. Then you really have nothing to complain about - you ran in the election and lost -- now you are a crybaby and sore loser.


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