Sunday, September 12, 2021

UFT Elections: Boycott?- Why Run at all if Unity stacks the deck? - The Sunday Special

You know that bogus Einstein quote about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes.

One thing never tried it a total boycott of UFT elections.

Sunday, Sept. 12 -- I keep asking myself this question every single election cycle. What's the point of running if you are bound to lose? Over 30 years the best the opposition could do was once win 13 Ex Bd seats (1991) and win the 7 high school seats most of the rest of the time. History counts -- the vote totals on all the elections are pretty consistent. 

Why is this year different/ (I know, it's Yom Kippur coming up, not Passover.) 

Well, there is the always eternal hope that there will be a head to head confrontation between a united opposition and Unity -- which we had (sort of) in 2016. Then there is the unpopularity of Mulgrew. Then there is the mishandling of the pandemic by the UFT on so many fronts. Then there is the union's turning off so many retirees, the lifeblood of Unity, by taking away their medicare. Then there was the OT/PT functional chapter revolt where MORE swept the chapter leader and delegate positions, a sigificant event. Then there is word from other functional chapters. Then there were the school chapter elections last year where anti-Unity voices made some headway. Then there is Educators of NYC run by Daniel Alicea who actually voted for Unity in 2019 but has become a strong critical independent voice. I bet there are a bunch of people out there like Daniel.


There is the history of elections where no matter how I get my hopes up the outcome is pretty much the same.

I was deeply involved in UFT elections in 2004, 07, 10 (ICE), 13, 16 (MORE). I was out of the 2019 elections as I was in the process of being purged from MORE for publicly disagreeing with the faction in control of MORE that engineered the decision not only to not run with other groups but to purposely run in a way to not contend for any winnable positions - A minimalist campaign for what purpose I still can't figure out. Ed Notes covered the contradiction in their position in March, 2019.

My final words to the MOREs was to either run with everyone in a serious manner to maximize the anti-Unity vote with the aim of winning the high schools and taking a serious shot at the middle schools or not run at all but use the election (which occupies a great deal of time) time saved as an organizing tool for the caucus. I told the MOREs that an election is like a high stakes test for a caucus. At the very least it must hold its own in vote totals but most people other than hard core organizers (like I was) get discouraged if these numbers don't grow. I can't tell you how many people I saw pass through the groups I was in over these 50 years.

I have been urging boycotts of UFT elections in every election since 2010 to emphasize the undemocratic nature of the UFT itself where winning an election is almost impossible. Why run of the outcome is pre-decided? John Lawhead from ICE and now Solidarity Caucus came up with the idea of uncaucusing for the elections and focusing on issues of concern to the members without engaging in the cumbersome and often distracting election process. Behind my idea was to leave the membership with no options on the ballot other than Unity as a wake-up call. I know that prospect actually scares the Unity people because it exposes them. If there were no opposition running Unity would make one up.

I was overruled every time and ended up throwing myself deep into the elections. I ran the petitioning campaigns for MORE in 2013, 2016 along with Ellen Fox. The MORE decision in 2019 relieved me of all that work and sitting out the election was a relief.

Now we are upon yet another UFT election cycle for 2022 and we are in the same position  - will the opposition come together this time with a united front challenge to Unity? So far most of the various caucus and uncaucus groups have spoken as Retiree Advocate, ICE, Solidarity, New Action, Educators of NYC - and even this lonely spot - Ed Notes - have endorsed that idea with rumors that MORE was taking a membership vote that ended Friday on a positive note.

The hard part would be to put everyone together in a room and lock the doors. The best thing about this election is that I will be outside that room blocking the exits.

Previous Ed Notes

Everything you wanted to know about UFT Elections ...

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