Monday, December 3, 2018

UFT Election Season Opens, Does Anybody Care?

Well, apparently some people care. Just not enough to make much of a difference. Today, the UFT Ex Bd will set up the election timetable. There is an election committee chaired by Amy Arundell. They met last week with one rep from each of three caucuses plus a dozen Unity Caucus members. Why shouldn't Unity get a 12-1 advantage?

Below is the column I submitted to The WAVE for publication Dec 7.

I'm still holding to my boycott the election position.

School Scope: UFT Election Season Opens, Does Anybody Care?
By Norm Scott

The UFT has announced its timetable for the upcoming UFT elections. Petitioning will take place from mid-January to mid-February and ballots will go out late March, to be returned by mid-April. I already know the results not because I can read the future but because I can read the past.

Every three years the 200,000 member United Federation of Teachers, elects its leadership. Actually, it re-elects its leadership, as it has done since the union was founded in 1962. Many UFT members are not aware that there are political parties – caucuses - in the UFT. There are a number of them. Currently they are MORE, New Action and Solidarity. ICE-UFT was an election caucus through 2010, but currently exists to meet in a diner once a month to gossip about the other caucuses and eat rice pudding.

Unity Caucus has won every election and has set up rules to assure its election in perpetuity. Sort of like those Republican controlled states which have gerrymandered their way to victory. At least there is a chance every10 years to make changes. Not so in the UFT, which is fundamentally a monarchy.

The only area of weakness shown by Unity has been in the high schools, where Unity has lost by a small margin in almost every election since the early 90s. There are about 20,000 high school UFT members, of which about 4500 voted in the last election. The opposition, if they can agree to unite for the elections without scratching each others’ eyes out, can win the seven (out of 101) Executive Board seats. In 2013 Unity garnered a paltry 1580 high school votes. The opposition did even worse but smartened up by coming together in 2016 and won with 2350 votes. Not exactly a mandate but it was still 150 more than Unity got. Actually, Unity increased its vote by about 500 from 2013. But still, embarrassing. The Unity Caucus union leadership, with all its advantages, can garner the support of only 2200 out of potential 20,000 votes. Sad.

As for the rest of the UFT, there is fundamentally one big yawn among the 70% of the membership which doesn’t vote.

One would think you’d have to be nuts to get involved in an election you have no chance to win. But lo and behold, in every election cycle, one or more non-Unity caucuses decide to throw their chalk into the ring. I, for instance, have been a very active participant in every election cycle with a variety of caucuses since the 2004 election. That’s five elections where I ended up putting in months of work. For the record, I am nuts.

In the 2016 election my goal was to win the seven high school Executive Board seats and we accomplished that. This time none of the three caucuses could come together, so there will be three opposition groups competing for those 2300 votes. Which means, Unity will win the high schools in addition to every other position. Yes, I’ve been nuts when it comes to UFT elections over the past 15 years. Not this time.

Norm’s nuts at ednotesonline.com

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