Thursday, March 24, 2016

UFT Election Update: 33 Candidates and No Mule; 12000 MORE Leaflets To Go At DA

The UFT election committee met after the Delegate Assembly and reaffirmed the long-time established rule of 40 candidates needed to attain slate status.

For DA reports see:
Given that one caucus had 33 candidates that means that the UFT election ballot will contain only 2 slates: MORE/New Action and Unity. This means that the names of the 33 Solidarity candidates will appear but must be voted on individually rather than by slate, a significant disadvantage.
I seem to remember that at one point many years ago Unity had a higher threshold for running a slate but liberalized the number to 40. Some people in the opposition at the time viewed the lower 40 number as an attempt to make it easier for multiple slates to run as a way to split the opposition. I mean at no time in the past 30 or more years did any opposition caucus view 40 candidates as too high a number other than this time. MORE alone had 40 in July.

So many of us were pretty surprised to hear that this had happened. There were some questions as to whether Unity would ignore their own rules since having 2 competing slates for anti-Unity votes would be to their advantage. At this point if I tell you what I know I would have to kill you. Let it suffice skeptics abound as to initial Unity intentions but faced with breaking the very rules they set up for the election - rules that were voted upon and agreed to - or at the very least not protested -- by all caucuses running. Frankly, if I entered the process thinking I might not reach 40 I would have protested this number from Day 1.

Funny thing is that even though denying Solidarity a spot on the front page of the ballot, the Unity Caucus dominated election committee decided to give Solidarity a full two page ad in the NY Teacher as if they were running as a caucus. And they will place the name Solidarity next to each candidate's name. Though I believe that by doing this they are technically breaking their rule in spirit, I guess they felt sort of bad for Solidarity and gave them this break. I have no real issues with their doing this since I don't believe many people even notice the NY Teacher ads. I had urged MORE/New Action to leave the page blank except for an 8 point type in the middle saying vote MORE/New Action, the only rational choice.
Imagine that the few people who bother to read the NY Teacher open to this page and have to squint to read it.
But no one listens to me.

Let's explore the idea of 40. Should it have been lower? What kind of threshold is fair to be able to call yourself a slate? When ICE was barely a few months old in 2004 we had little problem in getting double that number. 40 seems like a reasonable number to show caucus viability. What I can't understand is given the sturm and drang from some people on facebook and in the comments sections of blogs why aren't some of these people running with Solidarity to have helped them reach the magic number?

I have mixed feelings on this issue as I like competition.  MORE/New Action seem to be solid in terms of outreach and people being active even though that doesn't necessarily translate into votes. On the other hand, this will be the first time since 2001 that when people open their election ballots they will see only one opposition slate on the first page and will have to open the booklet to see all the candidates. Many of my efforts over the years have been aimed at creating one united opposition force to challenge Unity.

As MORE shows more unity internally than I've seen since its inception and begins working with New Action in an open and fair manner, I think we are moving in the right direction though I am still skeptical that will translate into votes in an election that only seems to have the 7 high school Ex Bd seats at stake.
Election Literature BE GONE
Monday afternoon I picked up 20,000 MORE/New Action leaflets. I dropped about 3000 off in Queens and another 10,000 in Brooklyn to be brought to the Delegate Assembly for people to pick up and take back to their schools. I kept about 7000 for further drop offs. I brought about 1500 with me to the DA.

Post DA decompression at Happy Hour
Last month when we disposed of 5000 at the DA we were surprised. By 6:15 PM every single one was gone with people having to leave empty handed. So we headed off to the Happy Hour which was crowded.

Stuffing School mailboxes and running into some principals who seemed cool
Before the DA we stopped at some campuses to stuff mail boxes at some schools with John Antush. At one campus with 5 schools we first met a chapter leader who knew all about MORE and signed on to be a regular distributer. At the other schools in the building we had no problem, One guy sitting in the office in very casual clothing was so welcoming. I said you heard of MORE? He said of course and then said tell them the CSA in this school supports you. He was the principal. Ordinarily I wouldn't admit that but this guy just seemed so cool. One of the ladies in the office escorted us to the boxes and said he was an awesome guy to work for. I was ready to come out of retirement.

At a school in another building the principal was an older British guy from London. We had a brief chat. He seemed pleasant. Of course all this is from a distance but over the years I have faced some resistance from some principals who acted like we were trespassing. Now the only resistance we've heard about is from Unity chapter leaders, not principals.

My sense is that there may be more well-run schools by decent people than we have been willing to admit. It is so much easier to make lists of bad principals. I'm thinking of starting a list of principals I would want to work for and try to use them as escape routes for people who feel they need to get out of their schools.


  1. I think a lot of what makes a "bad principal" is really a product of "a bad DOE". Think about it, back in the 90's there were not tons of "bad principals" but back then the DOE pretty much left teachers, principals, and teachers do their thing as long as they were not causing trouble. However, now there is a micromanaging fetish and a gotcha mentality being fostered by the DOE that trickles down to everyone.

  2. One correction Norm if I may: I believe the last time there were only two caucuses on the ballot was 1997. In 1999, NAC and PAC ran separate slates and NAC still won the high schools. In 2001, NAC and PAC ran separately but cross endorsed some high school exec bd seats that were all won by NAC. 2004 we had ICE and TJC run separately (we actually ran as ICE-PAC) cross endorsing for high schools. NAC was on the ballot but not opposing Randi. Of course Unity was on the ballot in all of these elections. In 2007 it was ICE-TJC against Unity and NAC, with NAC endorsing Randi. Same three caucuses in 2010 except NAC endorsed Mulgrew as they did in 2013 when MORE first ran.

    1. Yes you are right James. I was just getting active again and forgot when PAC began. We ran as ICE-PAC in 2004 Pessin's last hurrah as a caucus.
      It took over 25 years with 2 caucuses before he gave up. Scary thought.


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