Thursday, May 23, 2019

Ed Notes at the DA: UFT Election Results: Unity the BIG Winner, MORE the Biggest Loser drops by 75%, Solidarity Beats MORE for Second Place and Stays Alive, Whither New Action

On Wednesday I was going into Manhattan for a 3020a hearing (what a trip that has been) and a meeting later that night so I might as well go to the Delegate Assembly. But can I disappoint my many fans and not hand something out? No way.

So I cobbled this quicky together in the morning and beat my printer with a whip to wheeze out 300 copies. And since MORE seems to have been in the witness protection program since the election and just in case some attendees still take MORE seriously, why not beat a dead horse? They were snapping this up.

UFT Election Results: Unity the BIG Winner, MORE the Biggest Loser drops by 75%, Solidarity Beats MORE for Second Place and Stays Alive, Whither New Action

These results make me think Unity came in second – and those with an interest in promoting distance between the members and the union – our enemies – came in first… Jonathan Halabi, New Action, member of UFT Ex Bd.

The triennial UFT election ended with the usual victory for Unity Caucus, which has been in control of the UFT since its inception in 1962. Mulgrew received over 85% of the vote, with retirees being the largest voting block by far with 24,000 out of the 47,000 votes returned, with 89% going to Unity – yes, retirees are the happiest people in the UFT, maybe in the world. Over 197,000 ballots were sent out – about 25% returned overall. But the return from working UFT members was dismal.

Other than retirees, the turnout from working UFT members bordered on embarrassing. In the 20,000 member high school division, 3260 teachers voted. Without an effective opposition, the high schools, the only division where Unity has been weak, went for Unity by 67%, one of the few times Unity won a majority of high school votes over the past three decades. Unity got around 2100 high school votes, the same as in 2016 when they lost to MORE/New Action – and MORE’s insistence on running alone this time turned into a disaster as MORE received 550 high school votes and New Action 250, and Solidarity 375. In 2016 MORE/NA had over 2300. A lesson on divisiveness.

Unity won 75% of the middle school vote with 1200 votes out of 11,000 middle school teachers. They did even better in the elementary schools with 85% - 6,000 votes out of about 37,000 elementary school teachers. But the returns from the 3 teaching divisions is a sad commentary on how little UFT elections matter to working teachers. Jonathan’s point is right on.

Between the almost 70,000 teachers in elem, middle and high schools, Unity gets 10,000 votes. In the non-teaching functionals Unity received over 7,000 votes out of the 10,000 cast. 20,000 retirees voted for Unity. Is the UFT stronger or weaker when retirees are the most interested segment of the union? Read a detailed election analysis on ednotesonline: https://tinyurl.com/y6epxjub

A decimated opposition, with the sectarians in MORE being responsible
One of the reasons for the dismal results for the three opposition caucuses was their inability to form a united opposition. The rough order of total votes were Solidarity (7%), MORE (5%) and New Action (3%). As a longtime activist in the opposition, I shudder and question whether it is even worth participating in UFT elections, a waste of resources and time. In my final days in MORE I urged them to either take the election seriously and run with everyone in a united front or don’t run at all. I feel they have made a mockery of UFT elections and now a very weak Solidarity can claim the mantle of the only caucus that shows signs of growth, even if minimal. They finished second by outpolling MORE by a thousand votes a surprise since they have such a small base in the schools as was the poor showing of MORE Caucus with a bigger base. They bear the major responsibility for the debacle through divisive tactics internally and externally. Three key former MOREs ran on the Unity line for Ex Bd but maintain they will act independently of Unity. They no longer felt welcome in MORE. This puts Solidarity in the titular position of the opposition with the most support but it is a hollow "victory." Sadly, it seems that New Action has faded into possible oblivion. New Action was founded in 1995 as a merger of two caucuses and had initial success but as their leadership aged out into retirement they lost their base in the schools – plus the disaster of the alliance they made with Randi Weingarten and Unity Caucus in 2003.

In 2016 MORE/New Action had almost 10,600 votes and Solidarity had 1400. That’ was 12,000 votes against Unity. The total opposition vote this time was less than 7,000.

Solidarity beating out MORE is a big thing in the tiny world of the opposition inside the UFT. Showing some growth is essential but it was clear they didn't have enough of a base to make much bigger gains. The real race was to beat MORE and claim the mantle of the leading opposition - and Shockingly they did. I expected MORE to lose thousands of votes - but MORE dropped so drastically by 8000 votes. Think of it - in 3 years MORE, founded in 2012 as a merger of ICE and TJC, lost 8000 votes. from 10,600 to 2,600. The MORE leadership purged the ICE faction and some of their supporters voted for Solidarity.

MORE declares victory for not finishing last.
The MORE spin: One leader of MORE posted that they finished third, not last. The spin is that they didn't really try and purposely ran not to win and that the drop from almost 11,000 votes to 2600 shows that they still have a base to organize for their platform – sure, just like they organized the 10,600 last time. All the years of building the opposition and it all went crashing against the rocks of sectarianism. At the end of the day, the opposition in the UFT is decimated and Unity Caucus is more empowered than ever. Nice work. The faction in control of MORE ought to write book - how to destroy a union opposition and empower the ruling power. MORE missed an essential point. In the UFT the goal is to battle the Unity machine which controls the UFT, NYSUT and AFT with all forces at hand, not use elections to push an ideology. MORE has become a boutique caucus or a members only club.

Norm has been a UFT member for 52 years. He helped found ICE in 2003 and MORE in 2012. He is now a free agent. 

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