Sunday, April 21, 2019

UFT Election Results: Halabi Posts High School Totals Plus Historical Perspective

I've been reporting on UFT elections - UFT Election Results: Unity the BIG Winner, MORE the Biggest Loser, Solidarity Stays Alive-
based on the data I've been given. Election results have been coming in piecemeal - Since I'm  not attached to any caucus I don't get official results. New Action's Jonathan Halabi posted these interesting high school vote totals on his blog where you should check out his comments. I left this comment on his first election post:
As a UFT wonk these numbers are fascinating to parse. Don’t forget that in 2004, ICE-TJC won the high schools because Unity didn’t run candidates. Unity vote went up very little. Total opposition vote went down drastically. The reason? Has to be the split in the opposition. Longtime anti-Unity voters just sat it out. The MORE drop from 2013 is stark. 60 or so people who signed up to run on the Solidarity ticket including a people who are respected in the UFT. Portelos played so much of smaller role this time — if he had played a bigger role they might have gotten more votes. The pattern of 30 years was broken not by Unity but by decisions made by the opposition caucuses. The so called Portelos clique which was considered marginal was given life by the MORE disaster. Also the idea that Arthur and Mike brought votes to Unity might be valid when you look at Unity’s 2013 totals – or not valid when comparing to 2016. The 50 extra votes this time could be from Arthur’s school plus some from Mike’s. Both schools had voted heavy for MORE/NA last time.
He also did a followup which I will address in tomorrow's post.

UFT 2019 High School Election results compared to previous years.

Analysis: There are about 20,000 high school teachers in the UFT .... Only 3265 voted in 2019

WOW! The numbers are ridiculous. Jonathan is painting this low turnout as a big loss for the UFT even if a win for Unity. But I don't even see this as a win for Unity in this sense. It is clear that if there were a united opposition that went after winning, Unity would have lost again.

Look at the Unity numbers over the 6 election cycles Jonathan posted. The height of their vote totals in the HS was in 2004 but ironically, they didn't run any HS Ex Bd candidates due to their deal with New Action, which lost to the ICE/TJC which got 1417, less than half what Unity got. NA got 700 - so even if you added that to ICE/TJC, Unity would have won outright.

Now consider that they only got 50 more votes this time than in 2016 and also that Arthur and Mike brought them a batch of votes over from MORE. So this makes Unity look even worse in the high schools. Mike got a bunch people to vote Unity at Leon Goldstein, which had been a TJC and then MORE school - and 4 faculty ran with MORE this time. Assume Arthur shifted at least a 100 or maybe 150 votes to Unity. It is clear to me that Unity is as weak as ever in the high schools, if not more so and that a united opposition that started early could win these seats in 2022 even if Arthur and Mike stayed with Unity. My question is why bother?

Some are painting the outcome as a big win for Solidarity over MORE but I don't see it that way. MORE, though suffering a tremendous drop in the high schools still beat Solidarity 544-376 with New Action getting 242, which is not totally out of line with the past performance since NA only got 454 in 2013.

But note that even with the ballot line and running candidates for HS Ex Bd, Solidarity went from 108 to 376 - which some are saying is a major move - more than tripling. I guess, but given that there are 20,000 hs teachers, that the HS have always been the most militant part of the union and that MORE ran no candidates for the winnable ex bd seats, claiming 376 votes as a victory is farcical.

New Action
The question is whether they survive. I think they do decide to continue a presence in the UFT and I hope they do. If the landscape changes within the opponents to Unity, they may have a role.

MORE: Plus A little history going back to the 2016 election
Since MORE was a combination of ICE and TJC plus others, Halabi has a continuous record of high school voting since 2004. Note the consistency over 4 election cycles from 2004 through 2013 - MORE's first year. 1417, 1524, 1369 with ICE/TJC and then when they combined with NYCORE and others  -- a shockingly consistent 1430 in 2013 even with so many new people. For MORE to drop from 1430 in 2013 to 544 in 6 years is a shocking loss of support.

I think MORE will just shrug the outcomes off and try to sell the idea they really didn't put much effort into this election and they never really cared about the outcome anyway. Will the members buy it? Since MORE is fundamentally a DSA oriented group I think most will because they have a bigger agenda than UFT politics.

But they must deal with the fact that ICE/TJC and MORE through 5 election cycles, with a broader agenda than just social justice pretty much were able to get 1350-2200 votes in the high schools. And look at the MORE candidates and the high schools they came from - count the potential votes and you will see even in the schools where they had a base they didn't necessarily get overwhelming support. I heard reports from one school with a prominent MORE as CL where people complained that chapter meetings were all about issues that they felt had nothing to do with them - like the fact Mulgrew signed on to bringing Amazon back - something they couldn't care less about.

To say MORE didn't put effort into the election is not totally true. The election is pretty much all MORE talked about at its meetings since October and they kept pushing people to get out the vote in their schools. Since MORE is almost all high school based, the 544 votes is a sign of how weak an impact MORE is having. But they may even try to sell this as a base with the argument that MORE in essence remade itself into a new caucus after the purges and was essentially starting over. Still, there are those numbers from 2013  - 1435 - when MORE was a new caucus to explain.

Also consider that some of that 544 comes from legacy voting - people not aware of changes in MORE but who had voted for MORE in 2016. Thus the actual strength is less than 544. Also consider the two schools Arthur and Mike come from. Arthur probably brought 150 or more votes to MORE in 16 and assume some shift of these to Unity. And Mike's school, which had always been opposition due to TJC's Kit Wainer, was split this time.

Background to MORE internals in the 2013 and 2016 election and signs of divisions

With all the action around the founding of MORE, with the ICE and TJC and NYCORE connections, especially in the high schools, in 2013, I expected we had a chance to compete for winning the HS ex bd seats. So when all we got was 1430 and Unity 1592 to which New Action's 452 were added, it was a bitter pill that all we needed was 2000 votes in the high schools to win and fell so far short.

It was clear not enough outreach even in their own schools had been done and it was at that point that I saw that MORE as an electoral entity did not have much promise, which is why I fundamentally urged them not to run unless it was in coalitions. MORE held a "2013 victory" party on the day the results were being announced attended by 80 people and when I showed up crestfallen to deliver the outcomes - they begged me to show a happy face. Also a clue that they did not want to face reality but wanted a positive spin. But imagine that 80 or more people came out in 2013 and compare to today? The MORE promise and where it went? would make a good study.

Some of us knew that with better organizing we could get at least 2000 or more in 2016 and we set out to do so -- but disruptions internally in MORE in 2014 derailed us.

Mike, James, Arthur and I - and the rest of the ICE wing of MORE - were the leading proponents of going all out to win the high school seats in 2016 as a way to show the membership Unity could be beaten in at least one division with the hope that would lead to a move to defeat Unity in the middle schools and eventually the elementary schools in the 2019 election.

That we had to put up a fight internally in MORE to go for these seats was a sign of things to come.

In the spring of 2015 we began a high school newsletter outside the bounds of MORE because trying to do so inside would be a struggle with the ideologues. But that newsletter - The High School Forum - got some resonance and distribution we were asked to bring that inside MORE, which later on co-opted the name. We formed a MORE high school committee which none of the MORE sectarians got involved in - at first. And that allowed us to take the lead. (We also urged the other divisions in MORE to do the same -MS and ES -- and that never happened.)

By early summer 2015 when NA was still with Unity, we organized at the MORE convention to focus the high school committee on winning and the vote was very favorable. We really thought we might win the high schools even if Unity and New Action ran together. After all, in 2013 Unity only had 1592 and New Action brought only 452. So we aimed at 2500 votes even if NA stayed with Unity.

Rumors were that NA was not happy with Mulgrew and I and a few others did see that if New Action could be lured away from Unity and into an alliance with MORE we could beat Unity in the high schools for sure in 2016.

At the convention we put together a MORE high school committee basically run - in the early stages - July, 2015 - by the ICE wing and its supporters - much to the dissatisfaction of the ISO led ideology wing which didn't really want to go after these seats - they didn't see winning as a fruitful exercise - (given today's context I might take the same position).

We reached out to New Action and there was a positive response and thus an alliance was born -- though I do remember some of the ideologues pushing back at a MORE meeting in September of October 2015 that New Action wasn't ideologically kosher enough due to its 12 year alliance with Unity. That winning came second to ideological purity. The majority of MORE at that point was overwhelmingly for the alliance. How things changed by the fall of 2018 and I would say the split in MORE was fundamentally over these kinds of issues.

By the fall it was clear we had some momentum and at this point the MORE sectarian ideologues became concerned enough to jump onto the HS committee, which led to struggles through the fall of 2015 to shunt Mike and Arthur off the ballot, with unmatched levels of skulduggery which we managed to beat back. I kept stressing that Arthur's large school was the key to winning a close vote.

We won that internal battle at the time but the ideologues used their own negative reactions to the victory in the election as an internal organizing tool against Arthur and Mike.

And they literally began their attacks within weeks of winning the high schools in May 2016. But that's a story for another day.

I may even write a play.

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