Wednesday, March 27, 2019

UFT Election Update: I Vote Thrice

Hi Norm - I just got my UFT ballot in the mail. I've never received one, and today was perfect timing, because I had it out with someone in the UFT office. They have not responded to my email sent in October, despite me following up every month or so. I may need to start advising young teachers to save their dues for getting their own personal champion rather than have faith in the UFT's ability to even respond to an email within 6 months....
What do you recommend I do with the ballot? Did you have a falling out with MORE?
People have been asking me for UFT voting advice. I am flummoxed. This is where the long-term dangers lie for the UFT - arrogance and ignoring the pleas of people under assault. And I certainly won't tell anyone to vote for MORE. But.....

My teacher friends and neighbors are in California for 6 months and I am taking care of their house and mail. I asked what to do with their ballots -- we forward all their mail - and they told me to decide who to vote for since they usually ask me who to vote for anyway.

This time things are a bit more complicated since there is no slate I would recommend.  However, it does give me a chance to have one of my friends vote for New Action and the other for Solidarity while I in essence toss away my ballot and vote for individual candidates from all 4 slates - Unity too.

Why am I throwing away my ballot? The individual votes are counted -- they have to tear the booklets apart and feed them through the machine and this process delays the count by hours. But they only give us the slate vote totals and that is what gets reported. So those individual votes, which are usually around a couple of hundred people, don't count for much. But this time I have to do it on my ballot.

So, I'm going through the pages of the ballot and voting for people from all caucuses that I like or respect or know. It is tedious work. We have to pick out 48 names from the at-large Ex Bd candidates. Then 750 at most from the AFT/NYSUT convention list - which is easy to do since Unity has 750 running and MORE, Solidarity, New Action COMBINED have less than 150 -- that is why even a combined opposition can't come close to Unity. (The only time I can remember matching them in numbers was around 1980, but I hear from Ellen Fox they did match a few times -- but certainly not close since I became involved in elections again in 2004.)

Well, anyhow -- I will do a follow-up with a list of some of the candidates I voted for and why. I did manage to find a few MOREs that I still like and respect to vote for plus every New Action candidate even if I didn't know them. Plus every Solidarity candidate I know - minus a few that I have had some bad blood with in the past.


Unitymustgo! said...

From reading yours and a few other blogs my decision is to just check off Solidarity. As a long time reader I know of whom you speak. My understanding is that person has been minimized. Solidarity seems like the best choice if you want to send a message to Unity. What that message is I have no real idea. Any vote not for Unity is more like one water drop making a ripple in the ocean. Not gonna even be felt by ocean liner Unity. I'm not naive, but I also refuse to give up on the dream of a vital, responsive, open minded union that is actually interested in what it's members have to say. I would never had thunk it, but I'd recommend Solidarity to your readers.

ed notes online said...

I can’t pull the trigger on solidarity yet. They have to prove themselves that they are more than a paper organization. If they finish far behind more it shows they did little in the last 3 years. For all the issues I have with more they consistently meet once a month with 30-40 people and have done so for 5 years. So far they are the only game in town even though many of us don’t want to play anymore. The biggest example of their folly is losing someone like you. A ch Ldr who ran with more. That they don’t want to attract you and those like you is why they will ultimately diminish. Question to you is whether you’re willing post election to join

Unitymustgo! said...

Here’s why I say no to MORE. Currently there are several posts/ads from MORE on my Facebook stream. Not one of them speaks of fighting for me. They all speak about social justice issues. That’s all well and good, but I believe the primary purpose of a union is to fight to improve the working conditions and benefits of the people who pay them. Period. Do I care about social issues? Sure I do. Are there tons of social issues that affect our students? Yup there are. They affect many of our members to. Do I believe a teacher’s union should speak up about the social issues that affect members and students? Yes, yes I do. But, and here’s the thing, if you think, I think, the real issue(s) I have with our union is that Unity just doesn’t focus enough on social issues, well then you are really woefully out of touch with your fellow members. Perhaps, even more so than Unity. Not to go off on a tangent, but I actually think Unity isn’t so much out of touch with the real daily, grinding, piercing travesties members have to deal with. I think they have made a conscious calculated decision not to do much about any of it. MORE’s messaging makes me think MORE doesn’t get the simple idea, that members who don’t vote aren’t not voting because they are just so frustrated that the UFT just isn’t doing enough about social justice issues. Nor, does MORE seem to get the even bigger and even simpler idea that those members who are out there actually seeking alternative leadership are most definitely not doing so because of social justice issues. HEAR ME Unity. HEAR ME MORE, HEAR me anybody that wants my support. I want my union to focus on me. Period. There is plenty to do to improve the working conditions and benefits of our members. Can someone? Anyone? Just do that.

Anonymous said...

Amen, brother.
Votes against Unity will not be felt today; but as time goes on and more elections come up...maybe more and more and more people will be convinced to vote against the party rather than not vote at all (thinking that "Unity will win anyway").
Unity "bigs" are arrogant and they DO ignore we (perceived) "lesser" folk...but what goes up....must come down.

Anonymous said...

"Currently there are several posts/ads from MORE on my Facebook stream. Not one of them speaks of fighting for me." and " I want my union to focus on me. Period. There is plenty to do to improve the working conditions and benefits of our members. Can someone? Anyone? Just do that. "
VERY valid points.

Anonymous said...

We could easily substitute the word "Union" for "nation" these days...

“Pity The Nation”
Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.”

Francesco Portelos said...

Times have changed and apathy had increased. Digital conversations work when time doesn't. We feel that despite in person meetings, we get a lot more done internally and externally using digital formats. Some have asked what we have done.

On a daily basis we field messages from many members who find no help from the union and we guide them on what they can do.

Our website toolbox is second to none for online member resources.

We found schools were advising subs and not giving then their contractual prep. So we put a form out for evidence and emailed all the schools, DOE and CSA to stop that practice and they did.

We created a site to opt out from horrible state testing

We created the UFT Exec Bd One Click so members can reach out to the UFT leadership and board easier.

We pushed and helped set up an age discrimination suit for OACE UFT members and ATRs.

We set up and manage the Administrators in Need of Improvement list

We set up and manage the growing ATR Alliance group.

We set up and manage the Discontinued UFT member email list and share vacancies with them.

We educate members on a daily basis and try to give them hope and inspire them to fight back while their Unity reps continuously just say "Just be happy you have a job."

ed notes online said...

Great work but you can do all that without being a caucus that runs in elections. A sort of social service group. I urged MORE to do the same - not run and use the time and money to do the work they want to do. In fact the election process takes you away from some of this work. The votes you get will be a clue on outreach. if you do well then you may have a point. But if all that ends up being is a mere dent in the Unity machine then I question the process. If you were reaching enough people you should have hundreds running and no issues with petitions.