Thursday, August 6, 2015

Talking About UFT Elections - Double Oy Vey! -

Every time I get into the weeds of the complexities of the UFT election process, people nod off. There is just so much misinformation out there. The other day a prominent supporter of another caucus commented on facebook that retirees only vote for president, spreading the kind of misinformation that encourages support for crackpots. Retirees vote for every officer position and the majority of the exec board and all 750 AFT/NYSUT delegates who go to conventions as the shock troops (cadre) to control the nationwide teacher movement. In other words there is a lot more involved in UFT elections beyond the presidency and unlike other cities like Detroit or Newark where you can have different caucuses take different positions - Unity makes sure it is a lock for them and keeping out ANY voices of dissent is a priority. That is why even if MORE captured the 7 high school Ex bd seats, that would be viewed as a major threat to Unity.

Roseanne McCosh, one of the most astute people in the UFT, sent me this email in response to some of my posts on the UFT election (Are UFT Elections a Joke?). She has become a strong MORE ally with great ideas.
Hi Norm, 
It's rare that I can't weigh all that is to be said on a matter and come down in favor of one side but that's the case with MORE's involvement in the 2016 election.  If MORE runs they need to be honest with people and not get their hopes up or they will lose any momentum they gain between now and spring 2016..  

I'm sure that none of the teachers in my school understand how the elections are rigged since I'm the one who disseminates such info and I'm just starting to get a handle on it myself. You posed the following question in your post, 

"On the other hand, how exactly do you sell people on getting involved in an election that can win only such a small sliver of 7% of Ex bd and no officer or AFT/NYSUT delegate positions?"   

To that I would defining even 1% as a win.  By saying that it's about having the voice of the working classroom teacher present on the Ex Bd.  

(This is where my knowledge on the issue gets fuzzy-----why the focus on HS seats? Is it just a matter of MORE's resources? Out of the 100 seats, how many do retirees NOT vote on?  I'm afraid I need to read "UFT elections for Dummies" to fully understand everything.)  

[NOTE: I will respond to these questions in a follow-up].

I agree with you that getting a stronghold in individuals schools is imperative.  Unity has support in schools by the default position of apathy.  While scoring the ELA exam this year I met a 20 yr teacher who never votes bc she doesn't believe the ballots are really counted.  Try as I might to convince her otherwise, she would not budge.  How many teachers like her are out there?  What would it take to get them to just fill out the damn ballot?  It would take, like you said, a spokesperson in each school.  That's not going to happen quickly.  And like you, I would hate to see support taken from schools since that's where MORE needs to be to gain traction.  OY VEY is right!  

So in a nutshell....using all your resources to win a few seats is not a good idea.....if it means not getting more hands on deck in individual schools.  So I guess it's a matter of MORE being honest about it's limited resources and what they can take on at this point in time.  If they run, I'll help get out the vote at PS 8.  If they don't run, I'll still help to show my colleagues why we need to support MORE.  In either case, I will be upfront with my colleagues so they don't expect to wake up to a non-unity prez anytime soon.  
My quick response is that MORE seems to have come to a similar conclusion - that the elections are a building process. In the past after the elections gains in outreach were not consolidated as people lost energy. MORE did get almost 5000 votes in 2013. So MORE is continuing to do the work it has been doing in concentrating on building local organizing groups around the city and concentrating where it has the resources while adding an election component to the mix.

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