Thursday, November 1, 2018

UFT Contract Vote and UFT Election Update: The Split in the Opposition Doesn't Help

James Eterno on ICEUFT Blog
With UFT elections coming in the winter/spring and the contract vote ending today, there is a connection between the two events. With Eterno predicting 89% YES, I won't go that far.

My guess on the contract vote outcome on the teachers contract will be anywhere from 75% to 93% YES. The Unity campaign could only be counteracted by a strong NO campaign. It didn't happen.

[This is a reworking of my previous post: UFT Contract Vote Scorecard Update - Who's For and Who's Against?]

75% would be a major victory for MORE and ICEUFT blog, which led the VOTE NO campaign with yeoman work by James Eterno on the ICE blog, though Solidarity Caucus, with less outreach, also opposed. James' work has impressed people in MORE and there seems to be some healing going on since the rancor last April. The contract issue has closed a bit of the gap between ICE and MORE, though some ICEers are still outraged at the undemocratic behavior of MORE. (I promise to get into these weeds at some point.) How many NO votes can be attributed to the campaigns?

I think James' post, which by the last weekend had 14,000 hits, may have been the most effective of all:  EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK ON WHY YOU SHOULD VOTE NO.  But he has kept up a constant drumbeat.

Also see this excellent piece on the MORE blog:
NYC teacher union loses all of the battles it never fights - The new UFT-DOE contract makes no change in the 50-year wait for lower class sizes, a fair grievance procedure, and a rational job security process, among ...
I know class size reductions cost money, but to leave this ragged grievance procedure in place is criminal.

New Action leader and Ex Bd member Jonathan Halabi urged a YES vote with reservations. New Action as a group has not even met on the issue so they have not taken a position. This is a problem for MORE. And for New Action. How do you run in the UFT elections against Unity without a position on the contract?

Two elected MORE/NA Ex Bd reps, Goldstein and Schirtzer, are strong YES votes. My beef with them is that it seems OK to wait another 50 years for grievance procedure or real class size relief. Two observations and parental leave are victories but let's keep an eye on where we should have been going. MORE will continue to lobby on the contract.

I'm going to wager that the lack of a strong unified NO campaign will push the YES votes higher. But if the numbers are similar to 2014 where we had a stronger campaign that will be a sign of unhappiness in the rank and file. But much higher means an accepting rank and file of Unity rule. Don't tell me, as I heard someone say, that people voted YES holding their noses. A YES is a YES.

ICEUFT is having its monthly meeting tomorrow to discuss the contract vote and election possibilities.

I am observing the count most of the day but it probably won't be completed by the meeting and besides I cannot share the outcomes with people no matter how much rice pudding they shove down my mouth. (UFT Contract Vote Count Friday - Embagoed Till Sunday).

I am guessing based on previous contract votes where there were Vote NO campaigns. The most effective was in 1995 when teachers voted down the contract. One thing people may not know is that one division of the union can turn down their contract while others may vote yes. I was not yet active in the UFT other than as a chapter leader focused on my own school and I would bet my efforts there helped the school to a NO vote.

In 2005 ICE and TJC led a massive campaign, with rallies at the DA and the UFT and the vote count was intense -- close to 40% of the teachers voted NO. New Action, in alliance with Unity, was not part of the movement though they did issue a leaflet in opposition.

In 2014, MORE led the Vote NO with about 20,000 leaflets handed out as we went around to schools stuffing mailboxes. (Old vets like Eterno and I were somewhat disappointed in the MORE effort.)

Teachers voted 75% in favor but with 92% voting the 25% against came to 16,000 votes and there was another 4000 NOs from other divisions.

This time MORE led a Vote No campaign, but due to its internal issues that have led to a shrunken MORE, there was limited outreach in the schools but a more effective campaign on multi-media. MORES seem to think that in the schools they are in and active, there will be a NO vote -- I agree but there are too few of them.

The OT (Occupational Therapy) teachers are most upset as they were in 2014 where they did ratify the contract despite reports they were organizing to turn it down and this time they seem to be furious, so I will keep an eye on their vote. Expect paras to vote overwhelmingly -- maybe 95% YES.

UFT Election confusion
A contract vote over 85% would make the UFT election pretty much a waste of time. And many veteran opposition people are talking about sitting it out.

Here is what is clear. Things look bleak if not impossible to have one group opposing Unity -- which would be the only way to win the high school seats this time.

MORE in no way will run with Solidarity -- At the MORE meeting on Saturday someone branded it as a right wing group. I pushed back but apparently the Don't Tread on Me symbol is used on the far right and in the current political environment that is being used as a reason. Some people in New Action are using the same argument. Solidarity should address this issue publicly.

MORE may not even be willing to run with New Action due to the fact that NA is not taking a stand against the contract and Jonathan put out a YES vote. There would have to be some backsliding on its NO campaign to run Halabi as an Ex Bd member, though I can see that happening.
It was also pointed out that NA wants to focus on winning the high school seats. MORE does not agree -- that focusing on winning the high schools is a distraction and it wants to get its message out to all levels.

MORE does want the work NA would do in the election, since they are retired  mostly and would relieve the working MORE people to some extent, though given the last time when I handled the petition campaign for the election, NA can only contribute a limited number of signatures. So the bulk would have to come from the MORE people. But they would run a limited slate so that would take some pressure off.

What NA offers is a distribution campaign but NA would most likely put out its own lit instead of pushing the MORE line. 
But there is division in NA over running with Solidarity -- they are the "one opposition" people -- that there is almost no point in running if there are two opposition parties, while the other portion of NA wants to run only with MORE. A recent vote in NA leaned toward the pro-Solidarity people but that is still being revisited.
If the pro-Solidarity people lose they will not be involved in the election and that limits NA's distribution.

If MORE runs at all - which it probably will -- and probably with some accommodation with New Action if NA decides to abandon an alliance with Solidarity.... will be a limited campaign with the purpose of pushing it's political line on the contract and social justice issues. And a good chance it may run on its own. It has experienced people from Teachers for a Just Contract to run a limited campaign like they did when ICE ran with them -- they never put forth a lot of candidates.

The pro-election faction wants to use the campaign to push the "contract we deserve" campaign rather than focus on winning the high school seats.

There are people in MORE who do not feel MORE should run at all because it has shrunk over the years and needs to rebuild itself in the schools and that elections are a distraction. The argument that elections help you build has proven false in every single election I've been in. People emerge for a few weeks and then disappear after we lose badly to Unity.

MORE will discuss the elections at the Nov. 17 meeting.

That leaves everyone else -- and the question is if it is worth it to even run if there will be two opposition groups?
Solidarity has declared it is running, though I question whether it has the resources to do much of a campaign. It didn't get on the ballot last time because it was short of the 40 candidates. I assume they will get that many this time but doing all the election work is draining. Do they have the resources? They are willing to run with anyone. The elephant in the room for them is Portelos and some Solidarity people who attended the last ICE meeting said they have a broader base and he is playing less of a role.
Is it worth it for segments of NA, Solidarity and others who don't want to run with MORE to run a separate campaign?
Also there is the situation with EB members Arthur Goldstein and Mike Schirtzer who are alienated from MORE and free agents now and are being wooed by Unity. Both brought in a batch of high school votes in the last election. It is not clear what they will do, or even try to be on the Ex Bd again.

So at this relatively late date in the UFT election cycle, confusion reigns. James Eterno and I may start playing golf this spring.

1 comment:

  1. MORE is all about "social justice". SOLIDARITY is all about actually kicking the shit out of the DOE. I put my faith in them. We need to stay on the topic of our working conditions an not some social warrior mission.


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