Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Are UFT Elections a Joke?

Many of us are having a lot of fun with the "pet for president" UFT election campaign (UFT Presidential Race Heats Up, Julio 2016, Julio for UFT President, Bernice and Penny Lane for UFT Secretary and Treasurer.).
On Facebook people keep tossing their pets into the ring. So far Julie Cavanagh has not entered her dog and I think that's too bad. In the age of monarchical candidates ala Bush and Clinton, what makes more sense than to have the dog of a former presidential candidate running?

In response a well-respected member of MORE sent this email:
The whole elect my pet thing is super cute and funny, but it also sends a message that UFT elections are a joke. That may be the case, but I think it is worth asking if this is strategically the best move. The pet campaign wars may be seen and branded as MORE... Is it wise to have MORE seen as seeing and treating the UFT elections as a joke?  If MORE is going to put up a candidate, I fear this side business will be a hurdle to that person/people being taken seriously.
The writer makes a point. But MORE has not even addressed the UFT elections in any formal manner, though I believe it will at its July 14 retreat. The pet for president is a response to the current candidate options. When there is a serious candidate in the race, the pet campaign will go away.

The pet caucus election is a fun summer project but there is a point to it.

In so many ways the UFT elections are a joke -- a farce -- an exercise in futility since most regular people actually think they are winnable - if only one slate ran or if we advertized or ran a better campaign.

The real elections just took place. There were hundreds of CLs up for grabs - and Unity grabs most of them historically. I think their people had more challenges than ever - I heard one of them talking at the DA.

We can't go around lying to people that a UFT election can be "won" - in the classic sense. We need to use the election to teach people why these elections are set up the way they are and what changes need to be made in the union to make them meaningful -- people don't vote because the elections are so meaningless with so little to win (other than the 7 high school exec bd seats) and for us to tell them they are doing anything more than helping us make a statement that people want change is misleading.

Since the only thing we can "win" are the 7 high school seats -- if we think it is valuable to do so - we need to say that and also focus on that - and even if we "win" all we win is showing a sign we have gotten back to where New Action was in 2001, the last time an opposition beat Unity head to head in the high schools.

Still I think it is worth trying to do that but not much more than that other than to use the campaign to reach and activate more people at the school level.

But it has to be with the understanding about what we are doing -- building a bottom up movement and we see the elections as a tool to do that.
But most people don't want to hear that it can take a decade to reach a critical mass.

The animal campaign works for now because it de-emphasizes the elections as the major thing a caucus does.

Not that we don't want to get as many votes as possible to demonstrate that something is growing in the union.

We proved last time that where we have respected people in the schools the people will vote for us.

When that base has expanded our votes will go up. But let's not fool ourselves that even if we win a majority of the classroom teacher votes we can win the election - due to the preponderance of at-large voting -- at most winning the classroom teachers at the high, middle and elem school levels would give us 23 Ex bd seats out of 100.

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