Wednesday, April 20, 2022

How is UFT Election2022 different? Reason #1 UFC growth, #2 Unity defections

Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot?  
How is this UFT election different from all other UFT elections?

1. On all other UFT elections, the opposition was either fragmented or even when working together were not very coordinated. This year United for Change breaks new ground.

2. Unity caucus votes almost unanimously. In this election we hear of split ballots or voting outright for UFC.

April 20, 2022 

I was interviewed by a reporter a few weeks ago and forced to think more deeply about this election and how it was different to the point my brain began to smoke. I was in a cafe at the time and didn't take notes, so I forgot what I said but I felt it was a good analysis. Little by little  it has begun to come back to me, mostly during nightmares.

So here is my first in a series with reasons number 1 and 2 -- out of about 10. They are in no particular order in terms of impact on the election - just listing them as they come to me - after I cool down from the cold sweats.

How is this Election Different from previous elections - #1 and #2 (with many more to come in future posts).

#1: The unique and inclusive United for Change coalition

We've had examples of coalitions in the past. NAC in 1979 and beyond. Three and then two separare caucuses had success in 1985 and 1991 especially, but each of the groups acted somewhat independently (though 1979 was special).  Mid-90s led to the merger of TAC and New Directions to form New Action but many (like me) sat these elections out. PAC formed in the late 90s and ran with NA but that was expedient. In the early oughts New Action began to buddy with Unity and TJC became active and we saw the formation of ICE out of the Ed Notes core. Both of them ran in some forms of coalitions in the 04, 07, 10 elections -- but completely separately. Barely worked together - and when they united to form MORE, there was lingering tensions.

So what makes UFC different? After all, it is an alliance of people who didn't get along in the past and there have been predictions of implosion after the election. I will do my best to build on the alliances to keep things going. That people enjoyed working with others outside their caucus is a positive. I suggest a big victory party no matter the vote totals. Victory for the very existence of the coalition. A beach is available three blocks from my house. Even Unity peoplr can come.

A tremendous level of  collaboration through various committees on just about everything while the individual caucuses continued to operate. There were bumps in putting so many different groups together - competition, political maneuvering, etc. Lots of meetings (most of which I avoided). The initial decision that all must agree - consensus can be a bitch but I've always maintained that consensus takes a long time but works out for the best in the end. The process took forever and probably led to delays in the campaign. If this ever happens again, the working relationships will be smoother. But that all depends on election outcomes. (More on that at the end of this series.)

For the first time people who didn't know each other or worked together have been doing so and seeming to love doing it. Win or not, some of these relationships forged will outlast the election. Despite some rough times getting things coordinated, I'd rate this a success. Even the wild west of lit distribution has had some organization with a spreadsheet we consult to see which schools are leafleted. 

Example: Last week I was walking to the subway and passed two high schools across the sreet from each other. I called one of the people I've been working with in MORE and she immediately checked and gave me the thumbs up to do them. I've been working very closely with this particular person and I just met her two months ago.

The tremendous growth of MORE by ten times over the past two years provides an army of in school contacts. I met up with one woman on the corner of my building on her way to a local school and handed her leaflets. The level of activity in getting out the votes will be major and I have no way of knowing how deep that work goes, but there are some good signs. 

Solidarity under the incredible leadership of Lydia Howrilka has shown enormous staying power and growth in terms of outreach, something I learned during petitioning and distribution. 

New Action has recovered from the 2019 disaster. They have very experienced leadership and a massive list of supporters, mostly retirees but also renewed signs of people in schools. Rising star and former Unity Nick Bacon deciding to join as co-leader and renewal of the NA blog with brilliant posts has been a difference maker.

ICE has fundamentally as a group worked with the other groups rather thaneparately but provides a consistent web site and a core of people who know the game. The Eterno clan is a force. Some of the newer people have identified themselves as ICE/Solidarity. I view ICE as the non-caucus - open to all, including people associated with Unity. We want to talk about issues and eat - rice pudding when available. Post election we want to meet and talk and eat and talk.

Retiree Advocate as a force

A 25 year old group. What is different this year? Retiree Advocate has become active in the election for the first time and consists of New Action, former MOREs and ICE and independents who became active over MulgrewCare. We demonstrated before UFC was even formed that this type of grouping can work together and be effective.

A year and a half ago we decided to make a big push in the 2021 Retiree chapter elections, recruited 130 people to run and captured 30% of the vote, almost double from the past - and this was just as people were finding out about MulgrewCare. The leadership of RA's committed band of activists over decades, plus some great U1T retirees who had never been active in the UFT before has inspired the in-service people from the different groups to work together by supporting the battle against MulgrewCare last spring with actions at the Delegate Assembly that continued this past year as RA demonstrated out side every DA.

Of course MulgrewCare fiasco deserves a bullet of its own. Coming soon #3.

And then there is the Educators of NYC network under Daniel Alicea who has been a force. That he voted for Unity just 3 years ago and has moved so far so fast is a bad sign for the union leadership. Which leads me to #2.

#2: Unity Caucus people splitting ballots or outright voting UFC 

In this election we hear from a small, skewed sample from a small poll of 4 Unity members:

One is voting UFC, two are splitting ballots, and one is undecided. These being friends may not be typical Unity - but these are Unity members, not just supporters, some with a full-time UFT and others with part-time jobs.

Way back a year ago we were hearing that inside Unity there was dissatisfaction with Mulgrew's leadership. He had shrunk the inner circle and was making decisions with a tight crew - and many of those decisions were cringe worthy.

Along with Daniel Alicea moving to oppo, Is Nick Bacon move from Unity to New Action a harbinger? From what I hear, Unity are very bothered by him and Daniel. They like to poach oppos and don't like the reverse.

I hear anecdotes from people with Unity connections. Mulgrew seems to be the issue and other than hardcore Unity, Camille seems to be liked.  But too few to make me feel there will be enough significant defections due to anti- Mulgrew feelings to make a crucial difference - unless the vote is close. Not being an optimist I take these numbers with a grain of salt. But these stories are the first time I've heard over many election cycles.

There is a difference this time -- some Unity members are splitting the ballot or voting for UFC. Enough to lose them the election? NO. But when added to other items in a close race it could make a difference. Mulgrew is very unpopular. Inside the core of the Unity machine preservation is primary. But on the fringes? Who knows.  Mulgrew himself deserves his own bullet as a difference maker. I expect Janella Hinds, HS VP candidate, to get many more votes than Mulgrew.

Yes, Mulgrew himself and his unpopularity is a difference from previous elections.
Coming next: 
Number of people activated, MulgrewCare, Mulgrew himself

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