Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Incredible Shrinking UFT Election: Unity Wins, Unity Wins

I made my prediction on the outcome of the UFT election. Duhhhhhh!

Here's the leaflet I handed out at the Feb. 13, 2019 Delegate Assembly - which was today. I got some positive feedback and a few scowls. This may be a serial. Look for the next installment at the March DA. If you want to share with others email me for a pdf.

The Incredible Shrinking UFT Election: Unity Wins, Unity Wins
Three Opposition Caucuses compete for anti-Unity votes
By Norm Scott
When UFT members get their election ballots in March, they will have a choice of four slates. And Unity Caucus will win every position. New Action, MORE, and Solidarity will vie with each other for the anti-Unity vote, which in 2016 totaled around 12,000 votes. This will be the first time in my (fading) memory that three distinct slates will be “challenging” Unity, clearly making it impossible to win anything, yet alone the election as a whole. Over the past 40 years, anti-Unity totals have varied between 10-12,000 votes, but these totals may drop due to the confusion of 3 opposition slates. In the recent contract vote, the NO votes also totaled around 12,000, a consistent anti-Unity block, but a snippet given there are almost 200,000 members, including retirees. 70% don’t vote. Why? Because UFT elections are a locked box with Unity in total control due to the number of at-large positions where retiree votes are a major factor. Only divisional Ex Bd positions are winnable - elementary (11), middle (5) and high school (7) Ex Bd seats where retirees do not vote. And to win any of these requires one caucus opposing Unity. And the only chance to win those is to have a united opposition.

With nothing at stake this time vote totals will drop, especially with the recent 85% contract approval. Each caucus is running a limited slate of about 45 candidates. Call this one “the incredible shrinking election.”

The inability to unite is a naked admission that nothing can be won. Yet we see false misleading messages of bravado (we need to change the leadership of the UFT) in opposition literature. Ignore what they say and consider it fake advertising.

There was a lot of hope in 2016 when New Action left its 12 year coalition with Unity Caucus and ran with MORE, attracting well over 300 candidates, considerably extending the outreach of the opposition. Solidarity was a new and unproven caucus of relatively few members and didn’t even gather the required 40 candidates needed to run a slate and did not get on the ballot. (This time it appears they will.) The high school seats were won by the opposition and when adding up the middle school votes, a win in both divisions was possible this time. The only thing that made sense this time was for everyone to run as a united front. Some of us tried valiantly to put this together but failed.

So what happened? MORE refused to run with anyone else and is using the election to push its program. New Action wanted to run with MORE but not with Solidarity. Oy vey! Talk about taking the eye off the prize: mining those 12,000 anti-Unity votes to build a far-reaching opposition as opposed to promoting the brand of your own caucus.

Furthermore, MORE leaders make it clear they have no intention of trying to win any seats (declaring the winning of high school seats in 2016 “a disaster”) and purposely running only candidates for at-large non-winnable positions.

MORE has morphed from its original idea of a “big tent” opposition where various ideologies were welcome in the contention of ideas to a much narrower ideology based on the political positions taken by the old Teachers for a Just Contract (TJC) which merged with ICE/UFT in founding MORE in 2012. That coalition has fallen apart and ICE members were invited to leave MORE and many have. ICE/UFT has divided loyalties in this election, with many, including myself, sitting this one out, skeptical that the 20 year old TJC ideas of strike preparation that had failed to resonate with the rank and file from the late 90s through 2012 will strike gold this time. MORE is counting on the red state and big city teacher strikes in Chicago, Denver, Oakland and Los Angeles to resonate with UFT members. We in ICE/UFT (no longer an electoral caucus) think these ideas require deeper discussion, including the key issues of our pay vs. theirs, Taylor Law penalties, working conditions here and there and the 87% contract approval, a contract which MORE opposed vehemently. The MORE leadership did not want to have these discussions and ICE/UFT is the only place in the UFT where these discussions are taking place.

I and others have pretty much given up the ghost of building a viable opposition and we have become free agents, unattached to any caucus. MORE elected High School reps Mike Schirtzer and Arthur Goldstein, CL of the 300 member Francis Lewis HS, seeing no alternative, have been wooed by Unity and are running as independents for the EB on the Unity line with no strings attached. Mindy Rosier-Rayburn came to MORE after leading a valiant battle against charter school magnate Eva Moskowitz’ attempt to throw her school out of the building. Mindy has become a political force of nature, one of the early leading voices for Bernie Sanders (and a Bernie delegate to the 2016 Democratic Party convention) – a position contrary to the UFT leadership. She has now joined Unity without having to sign the loyalty oath.

How did MORE lose an entire progressive wing of the opposition over the past two years? For that answer see Education Notes at the March Delegate Assembly or get details at the blog, ednotesonline.com.

10 comments:

  1. Winning the high school Executive Board seats in 2016 was "disaster" solely because those elected couldn't be manipulated or controlled by the members of the International Socialist Organization in MORE, which, true to its to its history and deeply-embedded character, would sooner destroy a Left organization than share power in good faith within it.

    It's what Trots do: they insinuate themselves into masss organizations - unions, community and single-issue groups, etc. - take them over if they can (thus making them politically irrelevant), and smash them if they can't.

    What happened in MORE is a textbook case.

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  2. "MORE elected High School reps Mike Schirtzer and Arthur Goldstein, CL of the 300 member Francis Lewis HS, seeing no alternative, have been wooed by Unity and are running as independents for the EB on the Unity line with no strings attached." No strings attached my ass. When was the last time the two sellouts opposed anything Mulgrew did?

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  3. Why don’t you tell us when was the last time? Let me say this. Two of the five schools the uft is fighting for on class size are arthur and mike. Maybe not crit mulgrew actually gets something for your school. What good did crit do for you? Oh, sorry. You are anon. When is the last time u crit mulgrew without being anon? This makes you into a joke.

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  4. You are a bigger mulgrew stooge because you are anon and afraid. I’ll take Arthur and mike over you anytime. They had the guts to stand up for years. Arthur since the 2005 contract. Where were you?

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  5. They don't stand up any longer. That's my point! Schools not improving. UFT doesn't do shit for us. Two more sellouts make it worse.

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  6. Bullshit. Your not willing to stand up publicly makes it worse. Big shit if they were critical. Do a lot of good with a decimated opposition. I’d rather have them do whatever behind the scenes than spit into the wind. It is idiots like you that are the problem.

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  7. I am not the problem. Assholes who run with Unity are.

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  8. Assholes who run Unity can do so because you don't stand up but blame those who have spent 15 years standing up while u were quiet.

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