Thursday, March 10, 2016

Petitionology - UFT Elections/#MORE2016: Today is Final Day to File Petitions to get on Ballot

Gloria and me getting ready to eat
What me worry? We are done. Gloria Brandman, Michael Shulman and I handed thousands of pages of petitions to Amy Arundel and Ray Frankel at the UFT yesterday afternoon.We've been seeing Ray for over 40 years at these things and seeing her still doing this work even if she is on the other side is still a treat. Ray has to be pushing - I better not even try to guess her age but I hope she is still there in 2019.

I am free, free at last from the burden of organizing and managing the MORE/New Action petition campaign.

Call me a petitionologist. One of the few things I am an expert at.

We needed 900 for our officer slate. We got 1800. For the
divisional Ex Bd positions - elem (11), middle (5), high schools (7) and functionals (19) - we needed 100 for each of the 42 candidates and we were getting so many signatures we told people to stop gathering signatures. Look at the petition. It only holds around 40 signatures and to get to 1800 you can imagine how big a stack that is.

The UFT Executive Board is made up of these 42 plus 48 Ex bd at large (any UFT member can sign) plus the 12 officers.

We had so many great candidates we had to prune our list. All our other 200 candidates are running for the AFT/NYSUT RA delegates. Thus we have roughly 300 people on the slate.

We monitored the numbers every week so we knew where we stood. The amount of coordination, especially since we were working with New Action, was at times intense. Having NAC's experienced Jonathan Halabi as a partner on this made a big difference as we gathered and coordinated the information from 300 hundred candidates. And we could have had many more if we wanted but given the time frame and work involved we decided to save an entire forest by cutting things off at 300.

The only way I can get a project like this done is to obsess about it obsessively. So my mind has been cluttered over the planning and execution and now I can rest.

We were actually done on Saturday. They came by planes, trains and automobiles - and by foot to deliver piles of petitions all day.
We brought in a great team, including the always awesome Julie Woodward who used to write the Under Assault blog who comes out of retirement every 3 years to help us review and organize the petitions. Julie, Pat and David Dobosz, Gloria, Dan Doyle, Kit Wainer, Ashraya Gupta, Michael Shulman, Jonathan Halabi and others did yeoman work. Every one of our AFT delegate were put in folders in alphabetical order.

And our team did an amazing job, working from 10AM to 4PM. Still, I am always concerned until we actually turn over the petitions. Fires, floods and who knows what else can wipe you off a slate. I made sure not to leave the petitions in Rockaway in case a sudden Sandy hurricane or tsunami hit. (Yes I am that crazy.) I had to shlep a suitcase full down to 52 Broadway.
 I feel I have become an expert at organizing an effective petition campaign for UFT elections, which began Feb. 3. I wrote about it then: #MORE2016 - UFT Election Season is At Hand - Petitioning begins today through end of May. With the mid-winter break in the middle of the campaign our people had to hustle to get it all done with time to spare. Special thanks to Roseanne McCosh at PS 8X for chipping in with a good number of signatures. And to one of our own heroes Dan Lupkin at PS 58 for getting 14 people in his school to run and for coming in with a major batch of sigs. Also to Kevin Prosen at IS 230Q for delivering BIG numbers. Julie Cavanagh at PS 15k and Kit Wainer/Mike Schirtzer at Leon Goldstein and Arthur Goldstein at Francis Lewis HS plus our crew at Fort Hamilton HS also came up HUGE.

This is the 4th straight petitioning campaign I have organized since 2007, 10 (ICE) and 2013, 2016 (MORE).

I honed my strategy based on these experiences - what went right, what went wrong - see, experience does count.

This time, rather than view petitioning as a burden, we asked people to use their time as an organizing tool to tell people about the election and why MORE is running. We hope that in our schools where people actively petitioned that will translate into votes in May. But who knows? If our people don't engage their colleagues from now through the end of May to get them to vote it won't make much difference.

One thing we know. Unity will pull out all stops to win everything and you will see your teacher mailboxes flooded with Mulgrew literature. In addition you will be getting visits from Unity slugs under the guise of union business, which to me is a violation of some sort but other than complain, what can we do about it?

Another angle Unity has is that they get all the petitions and can see which schools we have strength in and they can then focus their people on targeting these schools for visits and extra literature.

But thus is the nature of the Unity machine and why they are so hard to make a dent in. But MORE will continue to challenge them throughout this election and beyond. It ain't over till it's over.

After we were done we went down to the 3rd floor cafeteria with Michael Shulman to enjoy a celebratory meal. Now it's on the the election campaign and a massive distribution of literature to the schools which we have the right to go into to put lit in the mail boxes.  If you want lit contact MORE or me.

I am a happy guy getting this mess off my hands


  1. Awesome job Norm!

    Not sure where you get all your energy but I want some.

  2. Norm, as we say in Brooklyn, you're a mensch!

  3. Thank you Norm for all that you for MORE.

  4. Norm. Thank you for sharing this. As you know I am a member of the NC Association of Educators which is under NEA. We are having our convention next weekend and I'm a first time delegate for Guilford County. We are fighting a machine too. I am also running for a school board position. I will be sharing your plight with my Organize2020 caucus. I think you should target school secretaries. That's a lot of votes. Miss you much.


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