Saturday, May 30, 2015

EdNotesOnline Reprint, Dec. 2007 - Is New Action Really a Caucus?

Mike Schirtzer, who is digging up all the history of the caucuses in the UFT he can find - found this oldie that I published. Mike wants people to have the full context when New Action runs jointly with Unity with Mulgrew at the top of the ticket in the spring 2016 UFT elections. Of course, anything is possible and NA might contact MORE with the news it wants to rejoin the opposition.

Look at the numbers below. Mike Shulman, running against Randi, received 11,400 votes in 2001, the last time New Action ran its own presidential candidate. Randi, knowing the ed deform assault was going to get hot and heavy and with a unified opposition, their vote totals would go up, started contacting Shulman, who pretty much had control over New Action. Randi knew the weak spots. Flattered, Shulman bit. I actually attended a New Action Exec Bd meeting as the deal was taking shape in Sept. 2002 at the invitation of James Eterno, who was increasingly upset at the direction NA was going in. (A year later he, Ellen Fox and Lisa North would leave NA to help form ICE.)

One of them said how they felt they had more impact, now that Randi was listening to them, than they had over the past 20 years. I just smiled, since Randi has spent 4 years pulling the same scam on me/Ed Notes. I knew how that story would end. I had tried to put all the opposition forces together in a coalition soon after the 2001 elections, but there was too much infighting and positioning -- egos and politics.

New Action plays the positioning game - say they are opposed or for a policy but do nothing about it. And they have allies who even if they argue they are anti-Unity, want to be in the playpen with New Action and by association, Unity. 

I and most people in MORE would welcome New Action back into the fold if they would break with Mulgrew -- old grudges, etc must disappear in these times. That's what they have to do, as Julie and I, repping MORE, made that very point in our meeting with them in the fall of 2013. Still waiting for that call.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is New Action Really a Caucus?

In the 1999 and 2001 UFT elections, New Action leader Michael Shulman received over 11,400 votes against Randi Weingarten in the UFT elections. PAC, another opposition caucus received 1300 votes. That's around 13,000 voting against Unity. That was the last election New Action ran a full slate. (I posted a reprint of an excellent piece by TJC's Marian Swerdlow that Ed Notes printed in April 2001 over at Norm's Notes at this link.)

New Action gave up being an opposition to join in a United Front with Unity. The result? Their votes shrunk almost in half by the next election in 2004 when
ICE/TJC wrested the high school Exec bd from them.

By the 2007 election, New Action's vote from teachers in the schools was around 1600.With retirees (many of whom are not aware of the sell-out) their vote came to around 3500, a [someone do the math] drop from when they opposed Unity.

So how did that United Front work out for them? Actually, not bad. While having little support in the schools, New Action members serve on committees, they have jobs and offices at the UFT and run around pretending to be an independent caucus.

We wanted to inform the delegates of the situation since New Action distributes their pretend caucus leaflets at the DA. Ed Notes Print edition distributed at the UFT Delegate Assembly on Dec. 12, 2007

Why am I bothering to spend so much time on a group headed for obscurity? With Weingarten, New Action's guardian angel set to leave the scene, we want to hasten their move towards oblivion, as their existence confuses the members and is a road block in the formation of a true opposition. In 1991 New Action actually got 31% of the vote. 16 years later, it's 9%. ICE/TJC's 20% in '07 is a building block for a future opposition.

Note: A New Action executive board member on Weds. called this a hatchet job and tried to compare what they are doing at Executive Board meetings with ICE/TJC. "How many resolutions did you get passed," he asked? Meaning: you couldn't get the 83 out of 89 Unity EB members to support your resolutions while we can through our sucking up to Weingarten. Duhhh! Read on!

The Numbers Tell the Story

Let’s look at New Action’s vote totals on its own as compared with ICE/TJC and Unity in the 2007 UFT elections. (Slate votes only).

High Schools
Unity: 2,183 (57.7%)
ICE/TJC: 1,524 (36%)
New Action: 521 (12.3%)

Number of high school seats on Exec Bd:
Unity: 3 New Action: 3 ICE/TJC: 0

Huh! ICE/TJC triples New Action’s vote and gets NO seats. Assume some of new Action’s votes (in all divisions) came from people who had voted New Action for 20 years when they were the major opposition, didn’t know about the sell-out and were confused. A swing of around 300 votes would have given ICE/TJC all 6 seats.

Democracy INACTION.

High Schools: Total Ballots 19,799
4,568 voted (23%, down from a 31% return in 2004)

The drop of 8% in HS significant. But it gets worse in middle schools where 12,841 ballots were sent and only 2,384 (18.6%) voted, down from the 27.6% who voted in 2004.
Here are the dismal totals.

Unity: 1,499 (67.6%) ICE/TJC: 444 (20%)
New Action: 273 (12.3%)
Elementary schools:
Mailed: 36,912
Returned: 8,904 (24.1%). 34.3% voted in 2004.
Unity: 6252 (76.7)
ICE/TJC: 1337 (16.4%)
New Action: 562 (6.9%)

Results from Elem + MS + HS:
Unity: 9,934 68%
ICE/TJC: 3,305 22.6%
New Action: 1,356 9.3%

Think about it. Less than 10,000 classroom teachers out of 70,000 voted for Unity as a slate. Dismal indeed. Weingarten’s totals are higher with the addition of the New Action votes but even with the addition of the non-slate votes, probably less than 15,000 in all.

To the overwhelming majority of classroom teachers, the union is insignificant. New Action, which at one time got over 10,000 votes, is irrelevant, even with its 8 bonus seats from Unity to be the house opposition.

Six years ago, in Dec. 2001, Ed Notes wrote:

Unity’s biggest fear is that New Action will fade into obscurity and a real opposition might blossom. Unity needs a non-threatening opposition to claim “we are a democratic union.” What better opposition than New Action, growing steadily weaker and less effective? By breathing life into New Action, the union leadership can give them an air of legitimacy as the “loyal” opposition. New Action is perfectly happy to occupy the position. As long as they play this role for Unity, there is little chance of seeing a serious opposition take hold. If New Action didn’t exist, Unity would have to invent them.

Ah, how time flies. Six years later, New Action is handing out leaflets talking about how 8 New Action members were elected to the UFT Executive Board in the UFT elections in March 2007. Unity holds the other 81 and ICE/TJC hold no seats on the Ex Bd.

Ed Notes is making a return appearance at the DA to fill in the missing information.

New Action received an automatic 5 seats from their candidates that also ran on Randi Weingarten’s Unity slate.

The other 3 seats came from running with Unity on the high school level, where they split the 6 seats with Unity. ICE/TJC had wrested these seats from New Action in the 2004 election when Unity didn’t run any candidates in a deal with New Action to have them not run a candidate against Weingarten. This led to the foundation of ICE and the reincarnation of TJC as a caucus active in UFT elections. The 6 ICE/TJC Ex Bd member were such a thorn in Unity’s side, they made sure not to allow New Action to run on their own against ICE/TJC.

What has NA they done with the seats? While their leaflets try to give the impression they are taking action at the Executive Board, they have endorsed every single policy advocated by Unity and have played the role of rubber stamp. (Come to an Ex Bd meeting and see New Action Inaction.) Their last leaflet contained not one word about the UFT’s endorsement of the merit pay scheme even though many New Action members are opposed. The same top-down mentality exists in New Action as in Unity. True birds of a feather.

Sometimes I'm amazed at the predictive powers of Ed Notes.

From the May 2001 edition:

New Action Goes CURR
The non-Unity active membership has declared New Action a CURR (Caucus Under Registration Review). In dropping from 31% to 21% of the vote in 10 years ( a 32% decline) New Action has clearly failed to meet the standards. If there is no improvement in the next election, New Action will be closed and reorganized into a debating society.

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