MORE shrinks rank and file power
MORE is contending that attempts to win these seats is somehow counter to what they term as "building rank and file power", another piece of rhetoric that is fundamentally meaningless, as if having the rank and file actually cast a vote for you doesn't really mean very much. The actions of MORE have actually shrunk rank and file power by undermining the general opposition to Unity Caucus and strengthened the ruling power. Building real rank and file power requires weakening the control of Unity and how driving out people into the arms of Unity does that is beyond me.
Arthur has a must-read funny and devastating blog post on the MORE folly of not winning:
MORE Plans to Fail, Fails to Plan to Fail Sufficiently, and Comes in Second Among Working Teachers
MORE went into this election cycle with the clear goal of losing. Optimally they would get no votes whatsoever. However, an election campaign requires that you ask people to vote for you. Otherwise, it would not be a campaign. So there's the rub--when you run to lose you have to at least pretend to run to win, or people will find you insincere. Now it's pretty tough, when you are sincerely insincere, to prove you are not. So that was one quandary.The ISO (now disbanded) wing of MORE (which is still intact and in control of MORE) in its internal reports to the ISO leadership (which I will be publishing excerpts of) were selling the idea to the newly recruited Democratic Socialists (DSA) that the now purged ICEUFT wing of MORE was somehow right wing - a joke since it was mostly socialist or left Democrats - and that in order to win seats on the UFT Ex Bd MORE would have to dilute the social justice message where in reality we called for cutting the rhetoric and dog whistles and presenting a broader base of ideas without labeling things as bread and butter or social justice. As a lifelong socialist in ICEUFT recently commented: We are not ceding to MORE that their vision of social justice is the correct one.
ICEUFT was truly a rational social justice caucus. That real conditions teachers and students were facing in the schools not the agenda of a tiny group of people is the real way to drive building rank and file power.
The ISO fraction (as they call themselves) viewed winning as being just for the sake of winning. Arthur takes that down with:
... you run no candidates whatsoever for the high school seats, because last time you won them, and that was a disaster. I mean, there were those people going to Executive Board twice a month, making themselves available to anyone who wanted to talk to them, and advocating for just about anyone who asked. Worse, they didn't bother to advocate for the things you wanted because it was Monday night and hey, Monday night is rumba lessons.The point I could never seem to get across within MORE was that winning seats from Unity IS a message to the rank and file, which has its only opportunity to participate during elections and gives them a chance to send the UFT leadership a message. And by winning or at least challenging seriously, the leadership itself feels threatened enough to possibly modify its policies. For me the golden oak leaf cluster would be to win all three school divisions where retirees can't vote --- that would not only send a message, but would also open up the idea of a law suit on the retiree issue -- that the working teachers were voting opposition but were thwarted.
That dream is done in by the sectarian actions of the MORE leadership under the control of the ISO faction or fraction or whatever.
In this election, whatever share of the rank and file that votes shat on the MORE vision of building rank and file power.
Middle and Elem school election outcome
Jonathan Halabi has been doing a yeoman job parsing UFT election data. (What a way to spend a week off. But look at me spending time on doing the same thing.) Here is his middle and elementary school data with my commentary.
While we considered winning the high school ex bd seats a pretty sure bet with a united front, the middle school ex bd seats were deemed remotely winnable if a concerted effort was made by a united opposition. That may not be obvious at first but look at Jonathan's data over the past 3 elections - 13, 16, 19. In 2016, MORE/New Action with Solidarity data hit 39%, withing striking range in 2019 with a concerted effort to hit the largest middle schools from the beginning of the school year. Notice the drop in Unity votes from 2016 (think of it - Unity gets 1236 out of a potential 12,000 MS teachers). If you take the opposition totals from 2016 and apply them to 2019 (not a given), we would have been in striking range. The only time the opposition won the middle and high schools (13 seats) was in 1991.
MORE received only 145 ms votes - and they had one strong school - Kevin Prosen's where I bet many of the votes came from. Solidarity despite the low totals actually has made its best showing in MS % wise - and bested MORE with 188 votes. New Action's 74 votes is mostly due to the work of the tireless of Greg DiStefano in Staten Island.
Where did the rank and file strategy go in the middle schools when 882 people voted for MORE/NA in 2016 and only 219 MS teachers voted for them individually this time, a drop of about 75%? As Arthur said, MORE failed in its attempt to get 0 votes but got close.
Now the elementary schools are a different kettle of fish and winning this division would require a district based strategy, which no opposition in history has had(other than my group, Another View in District 14 in the early 70s). I did try to bring that idea to MORE with a focus on the one district where we seemed to have some strong elementary school people - District 15 -- but that effort fell apart as people left and other reasons. My idea was that a strong effort in just a few districts might pull enough elementary school votes to get close. That idea is not dead too.
But again look at the Unity numbers - 7k in 2016, 6k in 2019. MORE/NA did not do too bad in 2016 - over 2500 elem school votes if you add Solidarity. I believe most of these elem school votes came from MORE which in 2016 still had some force in District 15 and a few other districts.
And look how Solidarity outpolled MORE in the elem schools this time -- 519-433. A disastrous drop for MORE -- probably closer to 80%. Hail to building rank and file power.
Here are my previous election reports: