....the entire MORE strategy is to issue dog whistles to the left as honey
with little interest in the mainstream of the UFT - that explains MORE's
Did you hear? UFT election ballots are on the way today. We saw the ads from all the caucuses in the NY Teacher - I laughed out loud at some of them. We know from past results that 70% of UFT members don't give enough of a shit to vote though I've always thought that they have no incentive to vote given the options and the fact that there is nothing at stake. For the first time in 20 years I am not voting slate, but will vote for individuals from all the slates who I like. This in essence invalidates my vote since we only tally slate votes.
I read all sorts of clueless comments from anti-Unity people about how we need to replace the union leadership and how if all the opposition groups united they would defeat Unity. I will be kind and call that dumb.
It really behooves the anti-Unity crowd to educate themselves on the realities. Past performance is an indicator. You don't just over turn decades of voting patterns in one election cycle - unless something so major has happened that the 70% who don't vote suddenly take notice. And despite some hysteria out there in opposition circles, nothing major has happened.
This year, due to 3 tepid opposition groups fighting over some crumbs, there is even less incentive to vote. Plus the 87% YES vote on the contract compared to the reaction to the 2013 contract is a factor in Unity's factor.
Of the 30% who return ballots, about 45-48% are retirees. They are the most satisfied and vote 85% for Unity. Assume about 22,000 of the 60,000 retires vote. Thus we begin the election with Unity: 19,000, Opposition: 3000. Unity got over 40,000 votes in the last election. The opposition around 12,000. Both numbers should drop. It would take an economic crisis threatening pensions to ever get them to go against Unity.
Only 25-27% of non-retirees vote. Unity will win every position with no challenge. Mike and Arthur who helped lead the opposition to victory in the high schools in 2013 are running with Unity - so expect Arthur's school with 300 UFT members to vote Unity, or not vote at all. A major win for Unity. Mike's school has a long history of opposition to Unity and 4 people there are running with MORE, so I still expect this fairly small school to vote for MORE. Mike might get some votes for Unity there, but not many.
There is some irony here. Unity has not been able to win the high schools on its own since 1993 - in 1991 Unity lost both the high schools and middle schools. But even though Unity loses the high schools, it has always been by a slim margin. Unity has been weak in the high school back to the Al Shanker days in the mid-80s. Actually, the high school teachers have pushed back against the school system going back to the 50s and they were the key to organizing the UFT in 1960.
In 2007, 2010, 2013 Unity needed a deal with New Action to win the high schools. When New Action joined with MORE in 2016, Unity lost once again. And if all the opposition had united this time, Unity would have lost the high and possibly the middle schools and I bet the opposition could have made a dent in the elementary schools. The actions of MORE killed that opportunity.
Expect voting for all groups to drop.
The question is by how much.
, knowing the outcome, has barely bothered to campaign - in 2016 they inundated the schools with glossy lit worthy of Eva Moskowitz.
I watch the divisionals - elem, ms, hs. Last time Unity got around 2150 in the high schools, a big jump from their 1585 in 2013. Remember there are 20,000 high school teachers. And the party in power has an enormous number of Unity chapter leaders, so their numbers in HS are pathetic. But they tried harder in the HS and jumped their numbers by about 500 votes. But the MORE/NA votes topped them. And if you toss in the Solidarity 150 the HS are roughly 55% anti-Unity. Imagine if the totals from the 3 caucuses top them again this time. MORE will wear the Scarlett D for Defeat.
In middle schools in 2016 Unity had about 1800 out of a potential 12,000 - the opposition totaled around 1500. Also pathetic -
In elementary they had about 7,000 and the opposition I think did around 2000 -- out of 36,000 potential votes.
Unity will certainly win the functional chapters by a lot - especially the paras. There are over 40,000 functional chapter members and they get around 20 ex bd seats -- all Unity. But Unity will not win the OT/PTs which will go to MORE which jumped on their bandwagon when they voted NO. I hear MORE is putting resources into a mailing to the member of that chapter for the election.Typical limited vision - go for the narrow slice rather than the big enchilada.
A very weak New Action
had pinned its hopes on an alliance with MORE but split internally on willingness to run with Solidarity but is now left with a spirited but very limited campaign with about 40 candidates but no officers. They have tried to get their leaflets into schools -- probably the most extensive by far of anyone running.
Given that they are mostly retirees with few people in the schools, their totals from working UFT members will be in the 1000 range - and add another 1000 from retirees who remember New Action from the past. I am tempted to vote for them because I like many of them - especially since I had decades of hostility with them. And they never stop trying what they see as the right thing to do. Post election some of us will sit down and talk though I worry that their strategy might be to make nice with MORE hoping they will take them in next time. I will vote individually for every NA candidate I can but not slate because I want to vote for some people on other slates, including a few Unity - I will list all the candidates I am voting for in a future post. But no candidate for president sends a message that resonates with me. I would have liked to see Jonathan Halabi run and I would have voted for him despite political differences in the past.
is viewed as a pariah in some areas of the opposition. I used to see them that way but have changed. But they have not shown very much since the last election but are making a valiant attempt this time. They had about 65 candidates but lost over a dozen-20 candidates due to invalid petitions and defections, not a good sign. They have shown energy in this campaign and ambition but they too have few people in the schools. Last time Portelos had about 1400 votes for president while not running on a slate. But his energy fueled that campaign. This time he has been quieter which may cost votes. Lydia has put a lot of effort in running for president. Given her tenure situation, being willing to take on this task is very brave. I like Lydia but experience does count in UFT politics as it does in the classroom. I said at the ICE meeting that if Jonathan Halabi ran for president - which I thought he might - his knowledge and experience would have made him the best choice.
Can Solidarity build on those 1400 votes - their outcomes in the divisions were around 200-300 though they did better %wise in the middle schools. This time they have slate status so they should do better. But we know votes come based on school contacts. I would be surprised if they get much more than 3000. Doubling the 2016 vote would be a victory.
has the most people in the schools - and they are young and politically active on a number of fronts. Ready to take part in every social justice movement. UFT elections however are not all that exciting. And also given the purges, splits and pushouts, MORE has lost almost all its experienced people who did a lot in the last election. They had no mass leaflet distribution to schools this time. Last time I and a few other retirees did tens of thousands. James alone did 5000.
But I never believe this tactic made a major difference.
But expect their 10,700 vote total -- which included New Action last time - to drop. By how much will be interesting. Some are predicting they will get half the total of last time - but no matter what, the MORE leadership will interpret the outcome as a victory for their strategy - I can't wait to read the spin cycle.
Subtract the New Action factor but add what may be an enthusiastic OT/PT factor -- give them 1000 votes from that chapter. Expect a big drop in the high schools where last time the efforts of Arthur Goldstein and James Eterno brought in hundreds of votes that made the difference in winning the high schools. For a guess, I'll give them 1350-1550. If they get less than 1000, they will look pathetic since most of their members are in the high schools and should at the very least get their own colleagues to vote for them.
In middle schools, there is not much there other than Kevin Prosen - if they come close to the 1200 last time I would be shocked. Probably less than 1000. Same deal in elementary schools -- we had a few strong places last time but not much more. We had a big push in Julie Cavanagh's school with lots of people running. This time I hear nothing. Say 1500 votes in elem.
MORE was the key villain in blowing up the possibility of making this election serious for its own narrow interests. There was less enthusiasm for the elections than the faction in control of MORE believed - the newer and younger members who had not taken part in elections were I believe manipulated into supporting a strategy of running not to win -- and using the election to get the word out on its strategy of talking about strike preparation by pushing examples of other cities. They think they can strike a spark for future organizing. I think not in the UFT no matter how much they huff and puff - they missed an opportunity though by not uniting instead of dividing people.
I had pushed back against that strategy and I think some in MORE heard my points -- I saw genuine shock on the faces of the MORE election pushers when the vote was 15-10 with 2 abstentions and when the next month even more people said they would not have chosen to run -- this lack of enthusiasm, a threat to the MORE leadership - enough of a threat that they used my blogging about this lack of enthusiasm as an excuse to suspend me for 6 months from meetings and listserves to shut down my voice. What they can't control is MORE members reading Ed Notes - though the idea of them issuing a ban on that would not shock me.
The opposition can never win it all but it could have won a piece
It is clear that Unity had set the rules in such a way that they can't lose by making the Ad Com and the majority of the Ex Bd at-large - meaning even retirees and the 13 functional chapters, which Unity dominates, vote -- other than OT/PT which will vote opposition this time - MORE since MORE has focused on them. This will inflate MORE and may help them cover up their weakness in the rest of the union.
My goal in opposition politics was to hold on to the high schools, take a shot for the middle schools which was very feasible based on the 2016 election and to build a stronger force in the elementary school. Ignore the retirees and functional chapters for now. Show we could win all 3 teaching divisions divisions where retirees can't vote -- win the 7 HS, 5MS, 11 Elem school Ex Bd seats which would give us 25% of the ex bd and a real base to build from.
After MORE blew up this plan I realize that I have wasted my political life in the UFT trying to accomplish this. It will never happen even if MORE reversed itself and tried to unite the opposition. Too much bad blood all around. (I would never work with MORE again as long as the same people are in charge.)
Unity will not just be in power for ever but will also not have even a smidgen of serious opposition. It would take years. I experienced how ICE was founded in 2003/4 and began to fade almost immediately but continued through the 2010 election before giving up the ghost. In essence, what MORE has done is make Unity stronger and more dominant, something they will never own up to.
Teachers for A Just Contract comes back to life to haunt MORE
Many of us who have been active over decades were reminded why when
given the option to join TJC in 2003/4 or start a new caucus - we opted for the
latter and formed ICE. We didn't want to be in the kind of restricted and ultimately
undemocratic environment TJC offered and is now offering in MORE.
I ran into a guy at the DA last week who was
active in the opposition in the 90s and knew TJC very well. I'll
paraphrase: "I heard that so and so TJC people are running MORE. They
are poison and will destroy MORE." Funny thing is that there is early
scuttlebutt that some of the enthusiasm of newer members who bought the TJC bill of goods is waning due to this tepid
election where they realize they are running for nothing and with no purpose.
TJC, began in 1993 and finally gave up the ghost in 2012 - I could tell in the 2010 elections they were so weak. Yet the same crew that ran TJC (into the ground) have come back to do the same thing to MORE. They are pulling the wool over the eyes of the recent recruits who are excited but will come to see the same strategy that let to TJC's demise will operate inside MORE.
If you want an example of the dumb decisions, based on ideology not reality, the MORE leaflet at the DA last week took its entire back page to put together a resolution condemning Mulgrew's signing a letter urging Amazon to come back.
I agree that making nice with anti-union Amazon is problematic -- but to think that that issue in any way takes priority over all the other issues in the schools is an example of how out of touch the MORE leadership is with reality. It is an example of naked opportunism -- a dog whistle to try to attract the left in the UFT, not an organizing tactic. In fact, if some left UFT members who were anti-Amazon get attracted they will soon see the sectarian control over MORE and won't stay around for long. In fact, the entire MORE strategy is to issue dog whistles to the left as honey with little interest in the mainstream of the UFT - that explains MORE's election strategy.
And MORE presidential candidate Dermott Myrie's choosing to use the question period to ask Mulgrew about the Amazon issue over all other issues in the UFT is an example of MORE Folly. I feel sad for Myrie who I used to like and respect when he first came to MORE but has fallen into the trap of ideological frenzy.
It's a sad day in the UFT when Mulgew looks like the best candidate for UFT president.