Why an opposition can't focus on retirees or functionals: lack of resources
52% of the returned votes in 2013 was by retirees.
Some people tell us to go after retirees. I'm opposed to putting resources into retirees - there are 50 years of thousands of Unity Caucus retirees who are still alive and they would never switch. I think the recent retirees might vote for us. Last time between MORE and New Action we got about 3000 votes from retirees.
Here are the totals:
Unity lost about 2000 but MORE and New Action made little gains - in fact New Action lost a lot of functional and retiree votes.
While we are running a full 19 member functional slate for Ex Bd with secretaries, paras, OTs, guidance, social workers etc we still need a critical mass in each of these units to make inroads. So we can't do very much inside the functional units unless we have people who work in those non-teaching areas to do some essential organizing. But most of them are scattered among many schools and a big change in the functionals can only be expected when we see their individual chapters captured from Unity iron-clad control.
Focus on non retiree vote areas of the union
So my strategy and focus is on the teaching portion of the union where retirees don't vote: the 3 basics -- elem, ms, hs divisions where a total of 23 Executive Board seats can be won which would give the opposition close to 25% of the seats and and a real foothold.
Elementary schools are the long-term key to winning power in the UFT
The key to any opposition getting a serious hold in challenging for power in the UFT is in the elementary schools which have been death valley for opposition caucuses - forever.
Let's look at Unity Caucus total for 2010 and 2013 in Elementary School Division (11 EB seats)
Mailed ballots(2013) Returned ballots
Unity dropped over 2500 votes in elem schools alone between 2010 and 2013. 34,000 elem ballots were sent out. The historic problem for the opposition has been a serious lack of penetration out in the far flung district schools where Unity gets many elem CLs into the caucus. The District Reps keep a hawk eye on them to make sure they don't stray into opposition territory.
And they still can only manage less 7300 returns.
Look at the MORE and New Action totals:
Basically MORE picked up what New Action lost plus a few hundred. Total of about 1700 - a number that makes me so pessimistic about making big inroads into the Unity majority in the elem schools. I've also seen Unity recover from big drops and it is not impossible for them to bounce back up to 7700. There is no way to gauge because last time we were surprised at all the low totals. But you never know. Theoretically, if MORE/New Action doubled their vote to 3400 (and I have no indication this might happen) and Unity dropped again - well, I can dream.
Which is why all the elementary school ed notes readers can go into their schools on May 6 and take out an organization sheet and go around the school and ask people if they will vote for MORE - and then send those tallies to old Norm so he can get an idea of where things stand. Then you can do one better -- have them bring in the ballot - everyone has to make sure to not screw up the ballot or it won't be counted. Ideally, since so few people use snail mail and don't even know how to find a mail box, make sure all the ballots get mailed that day.
Middle schools - a slim maybe
Now let's take a look at the middle schools which the opposition one once - in 1991.
High schools in play
Now when we get to the high schools things get interesting.
The returned totals are sad and the Unity totals dropped by 1000 between 2010 and 2013 - but they picked up the 452 from the New Action cross endorsement.
Now if you just assumed the same totals as 2010 the MORE plus New Action would outpoll Unity in the high schools. But never underestimate Unity and I don't assume they will not do what it takes to increase their votes to fend us off. What I would love to see one day is the MORE/New Action vote once again, as it did in the 90s, reach 3000 in the high schools. Pipe dream I know but to me that would be a break. I think with the closing of so many big high schools the large opposition vote totals of the past is something we may not see again.
The totals will be a reflection of the work MORE people are able and willing to do in their own schools to get out the vote. Too bad we can't track the individual school voting pattern - we could reward the MOREs whose schools did well with wine and song and punish those who didn't do well by withholding snacks at meetings.
This data was compiled by Peter Lamphere.