Saturday, May 28, 2016

#MORE2016 - UFT Elections - Some thoughts

I have too much to say and too much to analyze to get into it in a beautiful Saturday - and we have to leave to go to the Red Bulls soccer game with the ITBWFS crew - Lisa Donlan and Julie  Cavanagh and spouses along with Mollie Bruhn and Darren Marelli - to see Lisa's son Alex Muyl play for the Bulls.

I assume most of the ed notes readers know the results. The wins were in the high schools and the fact that the officer slate topped 10,800 - a big jump for the opposition.

The 2 days of vote of counting were frustrating. I understand the reasons given but I still don't buy all of it - I saw AAA release loads of people to other projects and they could have been working on this to get it done.

I had scheduled an ICE meeting at 4PM and to have them tell us that we would not be done until 5 was bothersome. I wasn't going to miss my rice pudding.

ICEers - Julie, Gloria, Michael, Lisa, James, Vera and me- Ellen  Fox took the photo
So after 2 days I had to leave before the vote count - but James Eterno called to say he was on the way to the ICE meeting but offered to divert to the AAA to take my place. James, as one of the major architects of the high school victory deserved to be there to hear the results if we won. So I am so glad that happened for him as no one worked harder to make it happen - and I will tell the whole story as soon as I have time.

As usual, meeting with ICE people is one of the highlights and I aim do this more often - probably in a few weeks - and if any Ed Notes readers are interested let me know.

When I got to the ICE meeting the news was coming in and as usual this is the best group of people to be with to talk about reality. Vera said the most important work MORE and its new Ex Bd members could do was become a shadow union where Unity is not doing the work -  strengthen the movement at the school level - by inviting and meeting with teachers from schools where chapter organizing efforts could be feasible. Figuring out how to do that will be a real challenge and efforts in the past have been very spotty.

It was great having my old pal Julie Woodward showing interest again after a long hiatus - Julie came down from upstate to help on the petition gathering day in March. Julie was one of the most respected voices in the UFT by everyone - including Unity for her detailed knowledge of the contract and her fierce attempts to enforce it - as chapter leader and beyond her time as CL. Last night Julie came up with the idea of asking for people in the schools - the people not active in the groups but some of the 11,000 who voted MORE/NA to volunteer to attend one Exec Bd meeting during the year to show support for our Ex Bd people. Julie offered to take charge of the project and keep track of people who respond -- like have at least 5-10 rank and filers sit as judges at each Ex Bd meeting. We'll keep you posted as I expect many ed notes readers to join this endeavor - and at least you get a free dinner on the Unity house.

Julie, who used to do the amazing blog, Under Assault, is the kind of voice in defense of teachers that is much needed.

Retirees like Julie and Vera and Gloria Brandman and soon to be retired Lisa North and the Eternos and Ellen and Michael Fiorillo who were at the meeting are typical of the ICE mentality - I call them rational leftists who see that defense of the working UFT member is at the top of the list.That voice must be a strong factor in MORE going forward so we keep our eyes on the prize.

Not having to contend with Solidarity on the slate probably saved the high schools for us as their HS vote totals did not take too many votes from MORE/NA - besides - I think those may be people who may not have voted in the first place. Together MORE/NA and Solidarity have over 50% of the high school vote -- the first time since 2001 the opposition has been able to do that. Close to 2500 teachers voted against Unity in the HS. When we started talking about this project almost 2 years ago we had an ultimate target of 3000 HS votes and that is still a number to shoot for in the future - though it looks almost funny since over 19000 HS ballots are sent out.

The bad news is that Unity did a much better job in getting out their votes in the elementary school and topped 7000 - a nice jump for them. I predicted that Unity would hit between 6500 and 7000. MORE/NA hit around 2300 -- I was hoping to hit 3000 which would have showed progress.

The Middle Schools were the usual disaster - Unity got a big boost. Poretlos told me his strength was in the middle schools and they did their best there - with about 6% of the vote. Even adding them to ours we are still far behind Unity.

In functionals and retirees there was no progress.

So the upshot is that we basically held serve in all the divisions but the high school where we made some moves and hopefully the Ex bd seats will give us a firm base -- but I also warn that

Portelos and I did a lot of talking during the 2 days of ballot watching and I feel we broke some ground in our relationship as we aired each other's gripes. I was also good to see Paul Hogan, one of the MORE people who decided to work with Portelos. I got insight into some of the issues between the 2 groups. We will look for some common ground, though as I pointed out there are a lot of bridges to rebuild - call it our own infrastructure project. Now that the election is over I think the rancor will die down. We have very different world views -- but then I was like him in some ways when I was his age -- I will share some of the things we discussed at some future time.

When I left I shook his hand and wished him luck and told him that getting 2000 votes would be a big victory. He didn't hit that number but I still want to congratulate Portelos and Solidarity for their 1400 votes, many of them I believe are new voters, making the opposition totals around 12,000 vs the Unity totals of around 40,000. I believe that gives us a serious base to work from - if only we can get even a fraction of that 12,000 to become active participants in their schools.

After the ICE meeting I headed back to Rockaway for the first time in 3 days  and I still had to go to the RTC rehearsal of Follies - where I got to hang with my pal Tony and act like we were having a good time at a party on stage.

I finally got 8 hours sleep. And we have an 11AM call on Sunday - and every night next week before we open on June 3 - and I have as inconsequential a part as you can imagine.


  1. Congratulations on winning the high schools. Thank you, Norm and all of the other MORE ground troops who work to make things better for all of us. Roseanne McCosh

  2. Thank you for all you do to keep us informed- here is to having MORE Somidarity in 2019-then we would really have a fighting chance to topple UNITY!

  3. Norm:

    Maybe MORE will now move away from that "social justice" crap and concentrate on "teacher justice" as James Eterno and Co advocate.

    When MORE eliminates the "social justice" plank, then I and others may become more involved,

    1. Chaz
      I think you need to be clear. If more eliminates social justice I and most other will be out. You don't seem to get that Ice was social justice and most of us are left. You will never find more as a pure caucus you want. Best you look elsewhere. What does it say that almost 11000 people voted for a group that advocates social justice crap alongside teacher justice crap. Focusing on just one or the other leads to a dead end. You are doomed to endless frustration because more is not going anywhere

  4. So much gets lost in text via comments, posts, emails etc. Besides feeling like I was back in the rubber room, sitting and waiting those two days, it was nice to have our cordial conversations and catch up. More people than not want us all to work together, but it's those who don't who will work hard to keep a wedge for the next three years. I'm sure with a long series of real talks, common ground could be found. Not for us, but the membership as a whole.

    Congratulations on exec bd seats. Please promise that when Leroy Barr gets up to table your resolutions, you make sure to fight to bring them back and not disappear.

    1. It nay not always look the way you want it to but no one is disappearing.

  5. Agreed!!! Let's find a common ground in the next 4 years!

  6. Social justice is not crap. Teacher issues are not crap. Actually they overlap, and intersect, you know, are connected. It would be nice if all non unity caucuses dedicated efforts to address common issues and build name recognition and real victories. How about ADA accessibility for parents and students and teachers. Join with civil orgs to check crosswalks for proper curb cuts,drainage, for ramps, for deploying school safety to entrances that are ADA compliant and accessible. Training and outreach to CLs, recruitment of retirees to update retirees on what is happening. Addressing slow unjust response to reassignment and discontinuance. Addressing abusive principals. How about addressing the calendar of DA meetings and PEP meetings happening on the same day across the city from each other. How about addressing school closure as a mechanism for ageism. How about massive waste and fraud in the school renewal initiative, and implementation of engageNY. How about unsafe working conditions ducttaped walls, labs without safety equipment, ceiling panels that are falling, leaks from pipes. How about engaging with gentrification activists to force tighter work between community boards handling zoning and local CECs to bring the truth out about land use and building new schools. How about addressing the issue of a lack of transparency in mayoral control and the disenfranchisement of nyc citizens. Lets see the intersectionality of the issues and work toward documenting and addressing them with our local elected officials. Lets unleash the power of our networks and social media.

  7. I just thought I'd mention I did not receive a ballot. I called the UFT, then the AAA, then the UFT again, as per all of their instructions. My address was confirmed, which they had right all along. There was some interoffice communication between and I was told by the third person that "it was already taken care of." Since I am still waiting for the replacement ballot, I can only assume they "took care of it" ina different way than I had expected....


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