In UFT elections, if the overwhelming majority of 70,000 classroom teachers were to vote against Unity Caucus, they would only win 23 out of 100 Executive Board and zero officer positions. And therein lies the essence of "democracy" in the UFT.
At-Large block voting—also known as the “plurality-At-Large voting method”—has been called the oldest trick in the book.... the web
Oy! Another election - at my age? After being deeply involved in the 04, 07, 10, 13, 16 elections? I missed the 19 election (thankfully) after the MORE Caucus purged me (double thanks, I didn't need the drama.)
This guy is right about the Unity cult but actually defeat Unity? While there are some intriguing new possibilities for the 2022 UFT election, the first step is to understand how the process works and the enormous obstacles the anti-Unity forces face. So let's do a deep dive on the process for today's post and explore elections possibilities in follow-up posts. First -- the appetizer, which explains a lot:
The UFT is a democratic organization --- isn't it?
There are elections every three years (it used to be every year in the early 60s, then every two years through 2001) and the majority winner has been Unity Caucus since 1962. That is democracy. But there's democracy and there's "democracy." Let me 'splain.
First, some basic facts:
UFT membership breakdown (all numbers approximate):
In-Service Total: 115-120,000
Classroom teachers: 70,000
Elementary (includes k-8): 37,000
Middle (6-8 grades): 12,000
HS (9-12 and 6-12): 20,000
Functional chapters - Support - Paras, secretaries, guidance, soc workers, OT/PT, attendance, home bound, speech etc. --- include non-school based teachers. etc): 45,000Retirees are also considered functional: So add 70,000 to the 45,000- In elections, 24,000 votes are allowed and fractionalized if there more vote but in recent elections 23-24000 have voted.
Total UFT membership: Over 185,000
But let's examine the ways the UFT is not democratic and in future posts lay out what the opposition could do to create more democracy since actually winning an entire elections is almost not possible.
UFT Elections (Part 2): ICE/UFT meeting calls for United Slate for UFT elections, addresses back to school safety and abusive principalsWe ... call on all caucuses and UFT members opposed to one party ruling Unity Caucus to come together now when there is common cause at UFT ...
Also listen to my appearances on WBAI for historical context to UFT undemocracy:
Listen to Inside UFT Politics and History (Part 2), broadcast live on Sat : How The Nation’s Most Powerful Teachers Union Impacted NYC Publ...
Norm Scott and Shanker Inst Head Leo Casey - Inside the History and Politics of the UFT - First Decades - Talk Out of School -How did the UFT get so old so fast? --- NYC Board of Ed official c. 1970 There were no fisticuffs or even enormous disagreements when Leo a...
The Bias of At-Large Elections: How it Works
“The Oldest Trick in the Book”
If you want to rig a local election, there’s an easier way than stuffing a ballot box, gerrymandering a district, or amassing a campaign war chest to scare off challengers. Have your city or county adopt winner-take-all “At-Large” voting, where, instead of using districts, all or most council or school committee candidates must run “at large, city or countywide.
At-Large block voting—also known as the “plurality-At-Large voting method”—has been called the oldest trick in the book. Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg cited this method, along racial gerrymandering, as a preeminent second-generation way to deny equal opportunity for minority voters and candidates.
Congress has banned At-Large voting for all federal elections. It’s been discarded by most states. No voting method has been subject to more litigation for its discriminatory impact on local elections. Yet, while the covers are off the discriminatory impact and intent of At-Large voting, it persists in hundreds of local jurisdictions....
Read more about at large voting
I will leave the "What can be done to break the Unity stanglehold, if anything?" to Parts 4 or 5- First let's understand how the UFT election game works.
Remember this point that --- if the 70k classroom teachers were to vote against Unity, even if overwhelmingly - say 70% - they would not even have a quarter of the Ex Bd seats, which are apportioned this way:
Generally, no more than 700 show up, mostly Unity Caucus, with a handful of opposition people.
More to come on where things stand in forming a united front, the only way to challenge Unity. Here are a few previous posts: