Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A Message from Andy: Is NYSUT Protecting MulgrewCare under the disguise of protecing our healthcare

 I saw this from Jonathan Halabi and reprinting as an early warning sign. UFT union leaders want to use our healthcare for their own political machinations which is why they oppose medicare for all. Jon issues a wait and watch signal:

Protect our health care?

May 24, 2022 pm31 11:19 pm

I like emails that open with “Protect our health care.” Retirees have recently engaged in a massive struggle to protect their health care – all of our future health care. They fought against New York City, the Municipal Labor Coalition, predatory insurance companies, and Michael Mulgrew.

So I liked this morning’s email from NYSUT

But NYSUT? Andy Pallotta? Works with Mulgrew and the UFT? What do they mean by “Protecting Retiree Health Insurance?

Well, the note says

“a recent court decision potentially limits unions’ ability to protect access to health care for retired public employees across the state.”

Now, if he is referring to the recent decision that made it harder for Mulgrew to force retirees off of Medicare… But is he?

Is there another case that NYSUT is asking us to lobby to fix? Or is NYSUT asking us to lobby on behalf of the MLC, the insurance companies, and Michael Mulgrew?

Protecting Retiree Health Insurance

Unions have — for decades — fought for retiree health coverage in our courts. However, a recent court decision potentially limits unions’ ability to protect access to health care for retired public employees across the state. Our retirees need a legislative fix.

We’re simply asking for the return of the same level playing field that existed prior to this court ruling. Both unions and employers must retain their right to argue their positions around a retiree health care dispute before a court. Our state legislators can guarantee this right and reduce the risk of unnecessary disputes over retiree health insurance benefits. Everyone wins.

Our retirees depend on unions’ ability to fight for them in court. Protecting retirees means protecting this ability.

Take action now!

In solidarity,

Andrew Pallotta, NYSUT President

I am suspicious – but I do not know. This could be unrelated to our struggle to protect Medicare from Mulgrew.

Can we dig up some details?


Monday, May 23, 2022

Christina Vs The Unity Caucus Machine - At May 23 UFT Ex Bd

See Nick Bacon Ex Bd minutes: 

What does ‘Unity’ look like?

Two false allegations were presented against Christina as formal

election complaints to the UFT Executive Board.

“UFC (United for Change) used a UFT email group to engage in campaign activity. FALSE - This is not a UFT email group but a group created by Christina herself.

On March 25th, District 7 Representative William (Bill) Woodruff verbally assaulted Christina at a location called Bar 47, which was open to the general public and 75 UFT members were also present. Several other members of Unity caucus also screamed at Christina and called her names, because she was offering UFC fliers to members present. There is an audio of the exchanges.

Christina Gavin has asked for time tonight to reply to the false charges. I spoke at the last Ex bd meeting and touched on some of these issues but was surprised to hear her name brought up without offering her an opportunity to be there to respond. Exec Bd meetings are supposed to be open to all UFT members and even if meetings are on zoom the link should be available to all.
Monday, May 23, 2022

People ask me why at my age I continue to be involved in UFT events. While the goal of chopping into Unity Caucus control of the UFT is always present, as important to me is meeting people like Christina Gavin, who I never would come in contact under ordinary circumstances.

Christina has been one of the lights of this year's UFT election campaign. She is gutsy and fearless and a quick study (she didn't get involved on the election until mid-February as petitions were winding up). 

I hear a lot of people talk about militancy - often they are keyboard militants. Christina is truly militant in action. If more oppo people were like her, we'd be ahead of the game.

Along the way she began to compile complaints about how UFT employees were misusing their time to campaign. In Unity circles this is a no-no and requires retaliation. So they went after Christina in the most nefarious ways.

Before we get into the details of her particular dispute with UFT district rep Bill Woodruff, I think the most outrageous actions against Christina were attempts tby union officials to retaliate for her calling out UFT employees who are being paid by OUR dues by claiming she was doing the same on DOE time. That's not the purview of a union that supposedly represents her.

A most egregious phone call was made to her one Friday afternoon (on school time) by Leroy Barr and UFT lawyer Beth Norton - of course she couldn't talk to them - she was working. But she called them back after school and was shocked to find herself being questioned about what she does during the school day. Like "when is your lunch hour?" NOT THEIR BUSINESS! At times Beth Norton has screamed at 

Christina who can be like a gnat. And a bulldozer. I love gnats and bulldozers who challenge the power structure of the UFT. (I observed at the vote count - don't think Unity operatives aren't buzzing around to try to wean her away from the oppo as they have with others - they do recognize talent and threats.)

But as you will see below, the retaliation escalated when Christina dared cross the threshold of a barely disguised Bronx District 7 Unity election event billed as a social party. Yeah, this had nothing to do with the election. 

Let me say right here how proud I am she had no qualms about going there and counter lobbying for United for Change in the midst of a hostile environment that soon turned toxic with Bill Woodruff screaming at her. 

Where have we seen UFT  guys vilifying a black woman before?


Let's get to the details regarding the retaliatory complainst filed against Christina.

Two false allegations were presented against Christina as formal election complaints to the UFT Executive Board as reported by Dan Leviatin, who was present at the incident with Woodruff.
On April 11th, Mr. LeRoy Barr, the UFT Secretary, read the following statement:

“UFC (United for Change) used a UFT email group to engage in campaign activity. Ms. (Amy) Mathis has provided evidence that Christina Gavin used a UFT Google Group, UFT Librarians, to seek assistance with campaign activities, specifically Ms. Gavin sought referrals for inexpensive copying for UFC fliers. The use of this group is an improper use of union resources, namely an email distribution list, and, therefore, the allegation should be upheld, and Ms. Gavin should be instructed to cease and desist this activity.”

The Google Group in question is the one that Christina created in September 2020 and which she has maintained since then. It is not a union resource; it does not belong to the union; no union employees have access to the Google Group.

     Screen Shot 1.png

.        Screen Shot 2.png

On March 25th, District 7 Representative William (Bill) Woodruff verbally assaulted Christina at a location called Bar 47, which was open to the general public and 75 UFT members were also present. Several other members of Unity caucus also screamed at Christina and called her names, because she was offering UFC fliers to members present.

Following their reprehensible behavior, Mr. Woodruff gave a “sincere” apology to Christina, which lasted 57 minutes & which she recorded, eventually with both his knowledge and consent.
  • Two days later - March 27th, Mr. Woodruff filed an entirely false complaint against Christina, contradicting everything that he had said in his recorded apology.
  • One day after that - March 28th, Christina filed a truthful report of Mr. Woodruff’s bad behavior and election complaints related to distribution of campaign literature.

  • Three days later - March 31st, Ms. Lopez, one of the Unity caucus members who had been yelling at Christina and calling her names in front of other union members & members of the general public, filed yet another wholly false complaint against Christina.
Christina was never apprised of any of the allegations against her and was not invited to attend the May 9th Executive Board meeting where the complaint was addressed.

On May 9th at that Ex Bd meeting, Mr. Barr read the attached report accusing Christina of behaving in an “aggressive and harassing manner.” I was there and can attest that this is untrue.

Mr. Woodruff also said as much repeatedly:

^ These are the same audio; one contains a read-along transcript

 See Nick Bacon's report of the Ex bd meeting:

UFT Executive Board Minutes 5-9-2022: Election Complaints, PERB, and APPR

Friday, May 20, 2022

Chicago Union Election Today - 3 Caucuses Battle it out - Is CORE in Trouble due to a split?


A CORE defeat will have major labor shock waves throughout the national teacher movement and the labor movement in general. A darling of the left losing an election would be MAJOR. I don't expect that to happen, but a run-off is possible of they don't get 50% running against two opposing caucuses, one from the left and one from the right.

Friday, May 20, 2022

With our own UFT elections over, it is tome to turn to another major union election. Today, Chicago teachers vote for union leadership. Based on the past, I assume voting will be in the schools and will have large turnout - especially when compared to the UFT. Retirees don't vote in Chicago.

Coverage here:

Union elections turn interesting when the ruling caucus undergoes a split. CORE, which has run the CTU since its election in 2010, has suffered two defections. 

Members First split for the last election in 2019 and I believe got about a third of the vote -- this was viewed as a split from the right end of CORE:  Chicago Teachers Union CORE Caucus challenged by Members First - Election May 17 - Substance

The most recent split comes from the left: Real Caucus has a number of prominent former CORE members. I found many people I knew in CORE running with REAL.

CORE has been the leading light for left progressive unionism around the nation and inspired the founding of caucuses to challenge incumbent center/right teacher union leadership, like the Unity Caucus here in NYC. 

In fact it was the 2010 CORE victory that was instrumental for us here in NYC to transform the non-caucus Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) to become a founding organization of MORE (which also underwent a split in 2018 but has come back strong) whose very name emerged out of CORE.

The original CORE victory was made possible by a split in the then ruling Unity like caucus in Chicago and CORE only got 32% of the vote in the first round with 5 caucuses running. The ruling caucus got 34% but in round two CORE consolidated the support of the other caucuses and won overwhelmingly - classroom teachers going into the boardroom.

My old pal, the late George Schmidt, with his Substance newspaper played a big role in that victory. Yet within a few years, people in CORE tried to purge him over his criticisms of the leadership. Did they become a version of Unity Caucus? That attempt failed but some damage was done. 

The Great George Schmidt is Gone

The architect of the CORE caucus and victory was Jackson Potter, a man I met a number of times and liked very much. He left his job at CTU to go back into the classroom, but has considerable political influence in the CTU. 

[NOTE - Potter was elected VP - so I guess back out of the classroom.]

The current president, Jesse Sharkey, is also leaving to go back to the classroom, leaving the union in the hands of Stacey Gates, who I believe was brought in by the late, great Karen Lewis. Her death has broken a unifying force in the union. If I remember correctly, George Schnidt was not a fan and at the 2010 AFT convention, a few weeks after CORE took power, I went to a CORE party and Karen introduced Gates as a major assistant. George made a comment along the lines of - not a real teacher.

I expect CORE - without really having inside info - but based on instinct - to win. But will they get over 50% to avoid a runoff? If REAL gets into a runoff with them, things might get dicey.

You can find coverage of the CTU - very anti leadership - at George's still running site:


And here are some old  articles by Mike Antonucci at the anti-union web site this past February.

Analysis: The Chicago Teachers Union Election Isn’t Until May. But Already, It’s Hip-Deep in Drama

Chicago Teachers Union strike on Oct. 25, 2019. (Getty Images)

You rarely find news about union elections in the mainstream press. This is understandable, since few elections are contested or in any doubt. Public interest is also low, because it is usually difficult to make the case that a change in officers will lead to a change in the union’s relations with the school district, lawmakers and the citizenry.

Chicago, however, is different.

For decades now, the Chicago Teachers Union has found it easy to make headlines. Its officers are political players on par with the city’s mayor and are often rumored to be mayoral hopefuls. Unlike most teachers unions, CTU has a robust history of internal opposition caucuses that have successfully challenged incumbents for leadership positions.

The latest attempt is by Members First Chicago and its presidential candidate, Mary Esposito-Usterbowski. Jesse Sharkey, the incumbent president, is not running for re-election. Vice President Stacy Davis Gates is seeking the top post.

Members First thinks the strikes of 2019 and 2022 have harmed the union more than they have helped and seem to want a more productive relationship with the mayor and the district. The incumbent Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) counters by pointing to its record of pay raises, class size limits and COVID safety protections.

The all-member election, set for May 20, is already hip-deep in drama. The latest chapter concerns a social media campaign supporting Members First. It is run by Lisa Schneider Fabes, a school board member in Wilmette, a town 14 miles north of Chicago. She oversaw Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s transition team in 2019.

Everyone involved denies any current connection among Schneider Fabes, the mayor and/or Members First. CORE sees it differently. A CTU member discovered the role of Schneider Fabes and the union tipped off the Chicago Sun-Times, which ran a lengthy story on it. CORE called the outside campaign an “obvious and craven attack on our internal democracy.”

The perception that forces allied with the mayor are supporting Members First make it difficult for the caucus to claim it is for, well, members first. Unfortunately for CORE, it has a few problems of its own.

For one, the union reported to its house of delegates that it was running a $3.5 million budget deficit. And Substance News, which has been covering internal conditions at CTU for 30 years, reported this week that CORE has fractured.

A new caucus of former CORE members was just formed and evidently will be running candidates in May. Called the REAL Caucus, its platform-in-progress states that “the current leadership has lost touch with the difficulties that educators face in our schools.”

Katie Osgood, one of the founding members of REAL, posted on Twitter that “the reason many of us have broken from CORE is we see how business unionism & union bureaucracy have crept into CORE’s leadership style. We are trying to propose an alternative that gets us back on the path of REAL rank & file unionism.”

REAL also noted, “We are not here to play spoiler in this election. We are here to win! CTU rules state that if nobody gets 50% of the vote, there is a runoff so the winner has to get more than half the union’s support regardless.”

This is a crucial point, since CORE owes its initial accession to power to the runoff rule. In 2010, four opposition caucuses challenged incumbent President Marilyn Stewart and her United Progressive Caucus. Stewart eked out a win in the first round with 32.3 percent of the vote, but Karen Lewis and CORE were able to unite the opposition in the runoff, which Lewis won easily.

It’s impossible to gauge the overall strength of the opposition in this election, never mind the relative strength of the opposition caucuses to each other, so who can tell if this will lead to a close race?

Regardless of what outsiders think of the Chicago Teachers Union, members should be heartened that they at least get to choose among differing visions for its direction, and have a realistic opportunity to discard one in favor of another. Too many teachers union members never get that chance.

 And another one from his site from January:

Why the Chicago Strike Collapsed

Hat tip to Alexander Russo for pointing us to this interview with Chicago teacher Hala Karim in Left Voice.

Read the whole thing, but here are a few points of interest:

* “I can’t name one teacher who disagreed with the vote when it was passed!”

* “I know of at least a couple schools where many staff members had returned by the second day.”

* “So, people want to know, what the hell happened? Well, for one, way too many people were walking through those school doors. As I was looking for parking during the teachout, I noticed that our school parking lot was at least half full. Our union members were going in. Some people stopped responding to our chat after the first day. They needed their paycheck, or they didn’t want to ruffle feathers, whatever their reason, they turned their back on us. This was happening everywhere. Since this wasn’t an official strike, people did not see the problem with going in. The problem is it completely undermined our action! Our leverage decreased with the growing amount of people who went in.”

* “I consider this agreement to be a huge embarrassment for the union. I can’t name a single colleague or friend who voted for it. I believe it is going to be a big struggle to bring our members in for our next action, knowing how played we all felt.”

I assume the union resisted calling their work stoppage a “strike” for legal reasons, but it appears to have backfired. And it’s hard to call something a lockout if a bunch of your members are showing up at school and teaching for pay.

Chicago is an outlier in many ways, but this month’s events proved once again that a union can’t run a major job action on the fly. You have to prep the membership, and a late night online vote the night before won’t cut it.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

UFT Elections 2022 - Norm takes a deep dive into #UFTelections2022

Look for further election analysis in my appearance on Noah Teachey's PD Podcast coming soon. Quick takeaways:
  • Unity got slammed, losing votes in all divisions compared to the past.
  • I thought newbie UFCers who actually thought we would win would be crushed - instead many were excited and already talking about 2025.
  • UFC didn't pick up what Unity dropped (except possibly in retirees and a little bit in high schools), just about matching the 2016 oppo numbers. Beware of those calling this a great victory. At this rate of growth I will be 121 when the oppo wins in 2046.
  • UFC gained from 2019 oppo disaster and restored a sense of an opposition, getting the most votes the oppo has ever gotten, winning the high schools with 55% and almost winning the middle schools with 44% and closing the gap in elementary and winning 33% overall, the closest in a long time.  Despite the gains, UFC did not get out the vote as well as I expected. I began the campaign thinking we could win all three teaching divisions. While we did get 44% of the teacher vote, that is due mostly to Unity's failure to bring out its vote, not due to UFC getting a big turnout - matching 2016 is still status quo - as iw winning the 7 HS Ex Bd as we did in 2016. Let's say UFC could win in 2025 or 2028 -- with these numbers? I'm not sure there is enough of a union underneath to deliver.
  • Possibly the biggest achievement of the 2022 election may be the very existence of a United for Change broad coalition. While formed as a temporary vehicle for this election, there are signs UFC will continue in some form while giving each caucus space to develop. The 7 electeds represent all the groups and the candidates have pledged to continue working together. I love that they come from MORE, Solidarity, New Action, ICE - but also they are broad-minded to see outside their own caucus. Preliminaty meetings indicate excitement at working together.
  • Is spending enormous time and money flooding teacher mail boxes with lit - for both Unity and oppo - really worth it. Also - we thought social media would bring out votes -- it didn't. Few will agree with me on these points but I will continue to stand by them. The numbers prove it.
  • Read my pre-election comments posted July 2021:

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Tuesday night I made my third appearance on Noah Teachey's PD Podcast. I could spend hours talking to Noah - and I did - I think I wore him out and he was about to nod off. I talked his ear off with my analysis of the UFT election. When he releases the podcast in a week or so, it will echo many of the things I say here - but with my heavy Brooklyn accent. When I let Noah talk he asked excellent questions. I will post a link when it is ready.
My info is coming from the work of Jonathan Halabi on his blog. Here are his last few posts.

Turnout: It's not just apathy 
Jon goes deep into turnout questions. I hear people in oppo say the biggest issue is apathy about the union. I don't agree - it's apathy about the union elections and general cynicism about elections and caucuses. Many refuse to vote consciously - they don't think it will make a difference.

Then there are the numbers of people who wanted to vote and didn't get ballots plus the number of late ballots that came in. See below at the end of this article for an example from a guy who wanted to vote UFC.

Below are his charts for functional, retiree, elem, ms and hs, with numbers going back to 2004. You have to be UFT election freaks like us to dig into these numbers.

Let's go division by division. I suggest some reforms along the way.

Retirees - massive turnout - over 27K - the UFT is weakened with well over half the total votes come from the no longer working, Unity is strengthened. Lesson retiree impact on elections.

UFC got almost 8K, just short of 30%, which is the highest total by far in a general UFT election. Most attribute that vote to Mulgrewcare, but I don't see it that way. In last year's RTC election we also got 30% and Mulgrewcare was just being announced. I assumed we would go up to 35% or more. this year. But Unity was helped by the plan not being implemented due to the court case and Mulgrew tried to run away from it -- and in some ways was successful. Imagine of the opt-outers were paying $200 a month on Jan 1? It seems even Unity people who were unhappy came home. In the over 3K new votes this time, my guess is UFC and Unity split them with an edge to Unity -- which is sort of good but disappointing as I had hoped we would get a bigger chunk. Unity went all out organizing retiree chapters all over the nation -- all dominated by Unity retirees. 
I don't see us moving much beyond the 30% in the future and may in fact see a slippage. Unless Mulgrewcare is implemented. Watch outcomes in the RTC election in 2024 as Retiree Advocate remains active in the RTC chapter and as a crucial part of UFC.
Since only 50K voted overall and retirees had 27k of that - leaving in service total at 23k - it is clearer than ever that the entire UFT is under the thumb of the rigidly controlled  RTC chapter. We need drastic reform. I would lower the threshold for retiree votes from 23.5K to a sliding scale where retiree votes cannot count for more than 25% of voting totals. Some say they should not count at all but at this time that is going too far. A sliding scale could work but I would give them two ex bd and a possible ADCom VP for retirees. They are still an important component of the UFT and while they should not be able to control the entire election, we should recognize their worth, especially since I am one and have nothing better to do in life than UFT politics.

Functional - worst turnout, drop for Unity, 32% for UFC. 
It's hard to figure out this division which also included retirees - which is so weird  and makes it impossible for oppo to win these 19 Ex bd seats.  Also included is the massive mumber of Dist 75 people. Makes no sense. Teachers should vote in their division, not functional. We need to press for this reform.
Another major reform would be to separate out and report on each funct chapter and pull out retirees and give them and each functional their own ex bd seats.  Ie. - Guidance, secretaries, social workers, OT/PT etc each get an es bd seat based on their division vote. Unity doesn't want this - let's push for this reform, even if we have to expand the Ex bd.

UFC did about the same as MORE/NA/Sol did in 2016. We had hoped to make inroads due to the OT/PT chapter and some key social workers running. I think we missed an opportunity with secretaries -- I spoke to many on my distribution routes and they have a lot of complaints. One thing I thought of but too late -- have UFC people talk to their own school secretaries and other functionals in their own buildings and try to build a network. I hear that there are union organizing trainings people go through. They seem to leave out such fundamentals as talking to people at this level. UFC still got 32%, a record, due to the big drop in Unity votes.

Elementary - UFC had a shot but it was long

I began the campaign thinking we could win this even though the gap from 2016 was massive --5K vote difference. Unity got 7K and we got 2.5k in 2016. I was hoping Unity would look like 2013 with 5K and we could double our 2016 with a strong campaign. 

It didn't happen and we missed a big opportunity as Unity dropped under 5k and we didn't even match 2016. I thought UFC had more outreach in elementary but if we did the GOTV didn't work. I got indications early on with the lack of contention in UFC by the caucuses for Elem Ex bd positions that there was not a sense of winning and when we struggled with petitions early on in that division, I pretty much gave up on winning this division.

34K elem ballots were sent out -- a lot of places to mine in the future. The oppos has a lot of work to do in elementary school. My suggestion: Choose a few key districts where UFC people have decent elem numbers and expand their networks with a local outreach program. Otherwise 2025 will be the same.


Middle school - Close but no cigar - Unity failure, but UFC makes no progress

We have election violations complaints but not enough to claim we lost due to those. I know there were schools where we could have/should have flushed out enough votes to win.

We thought we could win this and aimed our leafleting campaign at middle schools and literally got nothing more than we got in 2016. We barely cracked 900 votes in the entire MS division which has almost 11K. Unity totals were also abysmal --1200. We had 4 great Ex Bd candidates and it is a real shame we couldn't come up with 300 votes. I hear the biggest celebration inside Unity was that Daniel Alicea would not be on the Ex Bd -- after having voted for Unity in 2019, he became a leader of UFC and some in Unity seem to despise deserters. Unity isn't happy with HS winner Nick Bacon, still technically an elected Unity from 2019.

High Schools -- 55% for UFC waa big - I was hoping for 60%.

Ok - I'm a tough grader. Unity got slammed - under 2K - and they really wanted to win this one and there was great disappointment inside the fortress because HSVP Janelle Hinds is popular and people see this as a defeat for her personally. 

Remember, her opponent Jonathan Halabi got 600 more HS votes than she did and pre-1994 he would be on the adcom - as her 2016 opponent James Eterno who got more HS votes than her would have been hten. (Unity changed the rules after Shulman won in 1985 to at large.) 

Considered in the running as a Mulgrew successor, her fans at 52 and beyond were supposedly devastated by this loss. What were they thinking? Unity has fundamentally lost the high schools for almost 4 decades. If we had lost this time, UFC would have very little future. 

I'm adding this point to original post: Unity recruited candidates for HS seats with intention of winning: they chose big school CL or former CLs. They were turned down by some people they asked. Jonathan and I estimated they would bring in some votes. They didn't. Does that reflect Unity failure? Did their own schools come out for them but few others? Or did their own colleagues reject Unity?

Still -- over 21k high school ballots mailed, we have loads of people in the HS and we end up with 2500 votes? We won but UFC people shouldn't risk dislocating their shoulders by too much patting themselves on the backs. Instead, figure out how to get 3-4K in future elections for HS to make up shorfalls in other divisions for a real shot at winning it all. 

A major satisfaction is the election of Nick Bacon who ran with Unity and won for AFT in 2019. He was recruited by his Dist Rep. Imagine the egg on face. Unity seems to hate Nick almost as much as Daniel Alicea. Both of them were keys to bringing UFC together. While we see a number of former oppo people on the UFT Ex Bd with Unity, we now have our own reverse example in Nick -- maybe the first time we've seem an ex bd person go from Unity to oppo.

More from Jonathan

UFT Election Turnout: Four Charts

Let’s dive into the UFT election results. Let’s start with turnout. (For the beginning of the analysis, click here)

Votes Cast tells us more than Turnout Percentage

UFT Election Turnout: Some Observations

How many ballots were never received? How many came in late and weren't counted? Will we ever know?
Hi Norm, I just received my UFT ballot today [May 13] ,what should I do?  I asked for a replacement at 5:30 pm on the day of the deadline [April 25]  to ask for a replacement ballot. I was told it was too late but they sent me a ballot anyway.  Thanks Bill 

Let's see -- He asks for a ballot a half hour after deadline and receives it 19 days later. When did AAA send it out? Why?

Saturday, May 14, 2022

TODAY - Meet UFC Winning HS Candidates Plus Halabi (Who pre-1994 would have won the HS VP) - #TalkOutofSchool 1PM- @WBAI 99.5 FM

Daniel Alicea, who missed by a hair of being elected to the UFT Ex Bd, interviews the HS winning candidates, along with Jon Halabi who got the most votes for HS VP from high school teachers by a wide margin but will not be on AdCom due to a Unity change in the constitution in 1994 that made that position at-large - a response to the Michael Shulman win in the 1985 election - which Unity protested and lost even worse in the second round. 

A major reform of the UFT would be re-instituting the ability of each division to elect its own VP. The "winner", Janella Hinds, also finished second to James Eterno in the 2016 election. Imagine having UFT giants like James and Jon on the leadership board? Yes, only one  of 12 people but right now the 15K people who voted for UFC which got 42% of the teacher vote, have zero representation on the AdCom and only 7% of the Ex Bd. #UFTDemocracyInAction

I'm going to advocate that the electeds bring a UFT reform practice to the Ex Bd and DA and let Unity vote it down overwhelmingly and send a message to the membership how their rights are abridged.

I can't tell you how impressed I am with the #magnificent7. They bring diversity to the opposition movement itself by representing all factions of United for Change.
Unity hacks attacked us for this diversity. They are only comfortable by being in a Borg caucus.

Of course you all know Lydia Howrilka, who I first met about ten years ago when she was going through her struggles with an evil principal and lived to fight another day. She is the acknowledged leader of Solidarity Caucus which she has kept relevant with her enormous energy and turned them into a serious player in UFT politics. She brings to the table commitment to helping teachers in trouble for no fault of their own.

Ibeth Mejia, CL of Aviation HS, comes to activism through her connection to James Eterno, who was exiled to her old school when Jamaica HS closed. James became a mentor to her and Luli Rodriguez who ran for UFT Treasurer. Ibeth transferred to Aviation and ran against I believe a Unity person and won. I've never met her in person, but from everything I know is a force. And during the campaign she and Lydia have developed a good working relationship. Ibeth is affiliated with both ICE and Solidarity

Edward Calamia - New Action. I've never met him or know nothing about him but hear he is a great guy.

Nick Bacon, New Action, is a chapter leader at a school in the old George Washington Campus, where Retiree Advocate Ellen Fox used to reign as CL. He has become a friend. I first met him in a UFT history study group set up by Solidarity member and one of ICE's founders, John Lawhead last summer. Nick quickly bonded with many in the oppo and became a leader, having only joined New Action recently, being appointed co-chair along with Mike Shulman. Go read Nick on the renovated New Action blog, especially his great reporting on Ex bd meetings. Now he can do that on the inside. New Action – UFT

I've met Ilona Nanay, MORE, twice. The first time was when MORE had a petition return party at Bryant Park on Feb. 12, a beautiful day weather wise. We had a brief chat but she was delightful to talk to. Then one Sunday in April she drove out to my house to pick up flyers and we talked for over an hour and boy was I impressed with her. I could have talked to her for hours. She is a chapter leader too. 

Alex Jallot, UFT Chapter Leader at Pace High School, is also from MORE and I've had only a few contacts with him but was super impressed with his interview with my fave podcaster, Noah, did a great interview with Alex: I'm looking forward to seeing him on the Ex Bd.

Ronnie Almonte, MORE, is someone I don't know. I think I met him once. I hear good things about him from a common friend. I trust her judgement. 

I think the iterations of this group will be fascinating to watch. To put up a reso you need 5 signatures, so if there is something controversial they will have to work toether to get 5 out of the 7. Might there be areas of disagreement? Sure -- that is a good thing - even if they disagree publicly at Ex Bd meetings. 

Yes for diversity of opinion.

Here is Daniel's announcement (and regrets that he and Yvonne Reason, Olivia Swisher and Kevin Prosen missed joing the Magnificent 7 on the board.
Join me, Saturday, May 14, at 1 pm for #TalkOutofSchool on @WBAI 99.5 FM for my chat with Jonathan Halabi, the longest-serving HS chapter leader, who will share his expert analysis of the 2022 UFT election. 
Also my interviews with the newly elected High School division teachers for UFT Executive Board.

They’ll share their vision for our city's teacher's union and city schools.

You can also tune in online at:

Thursday, May 12, 2022

UFT Elections 2022:The Good, Bad, Ugly Part 1- IT's OVER - FREEDOM (FOR ME) - Unity wins - sort of, UFC (may) live to fight another day

So it appears UFT will go on much as it always has. The three-quarters who didn’t vote are either satisfied or apathetic. Who can say which.... Mike Antouncci at Intercepts
Thursday, May 12, 2022 - Much unhappiness in Mulgrewland

I as at 52 Broadway until after 7:30 last night, some UFC and Unity schmoozing. One reason to go to the election count is to interact with your election buddies and also with friendly Unity people. The rancor of Delegate Assemblies seem to fade away in that social setting. 

But I will do some social commentary in a follow up. I've been in the city for 3 days and nights and it's time to catch a ferry soon back to Rockaway to see my wife and cat and loll around in my backyard, finishing building a deck and working on the garden. But I know you don't want to hear about my life.

Though I will say that over the past 10 months I've had a blast. The first 4 months I was in the background getting daily - hourly reports on the formation of United for Change - talk about good, bad and ugly -- but on the whole ended up mostly good. I know how some in MORE feel about me so didn't want to immerse myself in negotiations - we had very competent people doing that. But I will tell the story one day in my groundbreaking best seller - The History of the Opposition in the UFT.

I got deeply involved by taking charge of the petitions for 6 weeks and then working the past few months on the lit distribution. I asked for an got a role in the UFT election committee and think I made a difference. In the overall process I got to meet many newer,younger MOREs and loved working with them and think we have developed a good relationship. Plus I worked closely with people in other caucuses, especially Lydia Howrilka whom I knew before but worked very closely with in the election.
Let's get to the hard facts and a few preliminary interpretations and hard numbers.
Halabi with the most complete up to date numbers:
Antonucci with early comment at Intercepts: Not Looking Good for Opposition in NYC Union Election  
Before I run to catch the ferry, a few quick notes. I was asked for a quick opinion by an outside the UFT activist. Here are the preliminary thoughts.

  • Tremendous weakness for Mulgrew. Total votes for unity under 30k.
  • Big drop in elementary tho we only kept pace with 2016. We would have needed a big campaign in el to close a 2k gap but getting 33% there is a breakthrough.
  • We lost in middle by 170 votes which keeps Daniel off ex bd. We could have won that with a better campaign.
  • Unity gets 1100 in ms and we get 930? 10k votes sent out. We hit most ms with flyers. Almost useless.
  • Hs is the big one as we got 55% but deep down our number was same as 2016 and unity dropped by 200 and fell under 2k - 21k ballots in hs. sent out.
  • Functional we hit a third which is breakthrough.
  • Retirees was big disappointed. Massive turnout. 28k. Almost 50% turnout and swamped in school vote. I expected bigger turnout would be due to mulgrewcare and go to us. We got same % as last year so unity people came out. Still they dropped from 85-70%.
  • We were a new coalition with lots of moving parts. If more organized we could have won all the teaching positions.
  • I’m betting mulgrew will not run again if they can figure out a replacement.
Before I leave, check for a follow up with a realistic, not celebratory look at this election which sort of  mimics 2016. It a loss for Unity but we have to examine more deeply how much of a win it was for UFC. I may have to duck.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

UFT Election 2022 - Jammed Scanners, 50K vote, Lots of Schmoozing as UFC Gang Show up, 27K Retirees Counted but no results yet - Day 2 begins with Elementary

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

We were there until 10 PM last night just as the retiree vote, which they began counting at 12:30 PM (it took them over 3 hours to get everything set up). 

I was there from the beginning and watched then set up in a separated section - I could see piles of ballots - David Hickey gave us very rough numbers on returns for each division as we came in and I reported them out. They looked low - the biggest drop seems to be elementary school and the highest number of retirees voted ever -- probably when all is said and done, over 27K, which is  clearly well over half the returns.
 I got some answers to questions. My first concern was ballots that arrived Monday after 8 AM - David Hickey assured me they would be counted - and maybe even some in the morning Tuesday mail. Later they called me out as a member of the election committee to say these totaled 1600 and wanted me to speak for the UFC to say yes and I did -- we came in ready to ask for them to be counted. Some people emailed me asking how I could tell they were kosher and I just don't have an answer to that. I also asked if we could examine the name of those who voted and Hickey said that would be fine. He did that with Portelos in 2016. I don't know if I have it in me to stay in that room to do that, since today we have another day of sort of observing.

When they started doing the count we realized we had no way of actually watching the ballots going through the scanners. We used to be able to look over their shoulders and watch the computer screens. They say there are 4 scanners but I only could see two. We complained and they got a UFT tech guy to set up a camera to broadcast two scanner views on the big screen where you could watch the ballots fly by -- and get a sense of how the vote is going -- except the scanner seemed to stop every 3 votes. I pretty much gave up and left that to more patient people. But there definitely seemed to be more Unity votes going by than UFC. We figured maybe 70-30, which would be disappointing because Retiree Advocate got 30% a year ago in the RTC election with 24K voting. I would have hoped the majority of the 3k more voters would lean in our direction. So far no sign of that but as they completed the count around 10 PM last night by counting the non slate votes - Jonathan said there were about only 200 of those - we still didn't get numbers.

The decision to count the biggest batch first was interesting as they could have knocked off MS, HS and elementary school and maybe even functionals yesterday. We are promised that info today and I am heading down soon.

Some reports from our colleagues:
  • Halabi: Even the incomplete results are incomplete


    Jonathan made this chart on turnout. I was very disappointed as we were counting on a big turnout which we think would have favored us.  These barely natch the 2016 nunbers and elementary is a big drop, though it matches 2013 and 19. Elem seems to have a pretty big swing.

    As Jonathan points out we are having problems in getting certain numbers and we will keep pressing today. While upstairs at 52 we hear there is great interest but no real concern as long as the retirees didn't go wild. Under 70% for Unity is a break from the 85% but no where as big a break as people hoped. Clearly even the Unity people unhappy with MulfrewCare couldn't pull the trigger for UFC.

    The other news was that they fed the workers and observers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yummy. Not really.

    And we had a fun group -- the RA people of course there all day and then out working pals began arriving and we had a lot of fun hanging out - and even chatting with some Unity people -- as I said at the Ex Bd Monday night - UFT Election Riff Raff - Norm Speaks at UFT Ex Bd, - the election is over, let's talk and figure some shit out -- at the end of the evening, Daniel Alicea, Leroy Barr and I had a good and open chat where we proposed the oppo UFC group be given some official status at the DA to present a motion at every meeting and maybe a question or  two -- I mean Mulgrew has a seating chart for Unity people and says we get 10K plus votes or more, we do represent a constituency, even if a minority.

    Ok -- I'm heading down and will report info to Jonathan and James so look to their blogs for updates and maybe a twitter feed from me.

    And what would it take to get some scanners that don't jam? The past few elections cycles seem to be worse.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

UFT Election Riff Raff - Norm Speaks at UFT Ex Bd, Heads to Vote Count at 8 AM

I wanted to be on the election committee to raise a lot of questions and may have missed the ball on many.- Norms confessions. 
Methinks Unity already has a lot more election info than UFC does: Turnout overall and in each division and may have been monitoring it all along. I had asked election chair Carl Cambria this question on turnout around the second week -- do we have numbers. He said he'd get back to me. Still waiting but I'd bet a bundle that info has been leaked to Unity all along.

If UFC were to win, Unity would refuse to hand over the keys and go to court to

protest. There is precedent when they did that to NAC in 1985 when Shulman won the HS VP. I wanted to write about the repercusions of a UFC win locally, nationally and even internationally due to the importancs Unity control is at the state and national level in supporting the Dem party and its fundamental neoliberalism. I'd bet anything that if UFC won and Unity went to court, they would win a new election.

Jon Halabi has two interesting posts with a deep dive. Must reading today before the results come in.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

I'm in the city getting ready to head down to 52 Broadway where the election vote count begins at 8. We can expect hours of opening envelopes and sorting the color-coded ballots into batches. I will try to live blog the count if I can get onto wifi.

Some key questions we intend to ask:

  • With the deadline being a ridiculous Monday, 8AM, I want to know if there was any mail delivery at all on Monday before that time. Was there mail delivery to AAA on Sunday? Saturday? What day and time was the last acceptable mail delivery?
  • How many ballots have been received after 8AM Monday and will be received? How many late ballots will there be? This is a crucial question given the vote suppression through limited GOTV days (spring break taking a chunk) and limited time for ballot replacements. Imagine of there are thousands of late ballots that go where? In the trash? We want to see Monday and Tuesday delivery ballots brought to 52 Broadway so we can examine the envelopes.
  • Were member names scanned and tabulated as they came in or were they all done Monday after 8 AM at AAA? If as they came in, AAA had a grasp of turnout, even by districts. Did AAA at any point share turnout numbers with their employers, the UFT? If so, Unity would have had a read on turnout that UFC didn't and could have driven turnout where they were strong.
  • We are asking for the names of every person who voted. That is a Dept Of Labor union election rule. I expect resistance. But we have a right to spot check to see if ballots were handled properly.
  • When did the ballots get brought to 52 Broadway from the AAA at 120 Broadway? Monday? Or Tuesday morning? Who watches the ballots before we get there? Just a thought.

I spoke at the UFT Ex Bd last night during the 10 minute open mic period - I was running late making ferry connections and Leroy Barr was kind enough to hold my slot. I took the Rockaway ferry and arrived at Wall St at 5:15 and could have gone over to the UFT to try to speak in person. In fact I asked Leroy Barr to order me some Beef Wellington for dinner. But with covid etc I decided to jump on the quickest uptown ferry to 34St and I got to my apartment after 6 for the zoom. At the end of my statement I told Leroy he can have my beef wellington.

Nick Bacon's notes captured the essence of what I said - I copied and pasted below with a link to his blog at New Action. I didn't get notice I could speak until 5 PM and I was on the ferries, so I hurriedly scribbled some notes. I had the full ten minutes and could have easily filled them about this election but only was able to put together around 5 minutes.

What I didn't say but wished I did (in addition to the election questions I raised above) is related to the case of the UFC candidate who protested to the union that he was put on the ballot without his permission. I believe he believes that and he is probably right. But so is UFC in thinking he was OK with it based on documents I saw and submitted. I also spoke and texted with him over the weekend. 

The Exec Bd Important: Hell NO -- Leroy, Mulgrew reports and a Schirtzer Question

His problem is that he was told how important the Ex Bd position is and he is so busy he knew he couldn't serve in an important position so he asked the union to remove his name from the ballot. Leroy's report indicates that if we won the elementary schools they would remove him even though after I explained just how inconsequential and irrelevant the UFT Ex Bd was - a rubber stamp - except for Schirtzer - he was fine with being on the ballot. I wish I had said just how inconsequential the Ex Bd is.

I posted my sort of predictions yesterday:

I don't see a bg UFC win and we need to determine what constitutes a big Unity win. Under 70% is a big win in election world but in UFT world anything in the 60s, especially the low 60s, is a win but not big.

And DOENUTS, who split his ballot, seems to match my estimates except for retirees.

I fear that newbie activists

Nick Bacon -- UFT Executive Board Minutes 5-9-2022: Election Complaints, PERB, and APPR

6:01 LeRoy Barr: Open mic period: Norm Scott supposed to speak, but isn’t here. Mike Schirtzer mentions he’s running late. Leroy says if he’s running ten minutes late for the ten minute period, maybe we’ll give him 60 seconds? (Laughter).

Norm Scott: Given 10 minutes by LeRoy. Election stuff. Election is over, we’ll have results in a day or two. Things get heated. We’ve seen it. Things will tone down once it’s over and we can have some dialogue I hope. This election brought out a lot of people who weren’t involved before. Some were neutral or on other sides. But one thing that people were enraged by the most was that people weren’t being heard, whether at the DA or elsewhere. People don’t mind losing a vote if they have a chance to present their point of their view. Fine with majority rule, but the minority needs a chance to present their case. If we don’t get to talk about where we differ or disagree-that can’t happen.

Election complaints: different levels of complaining. One thing that bothered some was that people who were working for the union were doing things on union time. We were trying to track that, which caused some consternation. But we felt that if you were on the clock, you shouldn’t engage in union politics. But what we found was that we were being charged for doing things on school time. Well if we did, that shouldn’t be a UFT issue, that’s DOE. We were also stopped from giving flyers in mailboxes by Unity CLs. Can understand when a principal doesn’t get the memo, but people running on your slate should be told that they have to allow us in. We had times where we went 3 times, and were told by CLs that we wouldn’t be allowed to put in mailings.

Some complaints on what UFC has done. One complaint tonight. We had a candidate, who did not realize he was a candidate. He complained. Friday, I spoke to him and he said he didn’t complain – he made an inquiry. He showed him what he wrote, and saw that yes, it did look like a complaint. So I’m going to explain what happened – a misunderstanding. This candidate indicated he had an interest in running, but was convinced that exec board would be too much work (even though the food is great!). Once he saw his name, he realized he didn’t have the time. When I spoke to him on Friday, explained the exec board and that it involved a zoom every 2 weeks, he said that he’d be fine serving under those conditions. He had thought it was a much more time-intensive position. So this was a misunderstanding on the part of the both sides. I told him we regret it, but part of the issue is he didn’t make it quite clear. There was a lack of clarity. We have addressed that and hopefully to the satisfaction of the exec board. Please enjoy my Beef Wellington.

LeRoy Barr: 3 election complaints.

  1. What Norm touched on. This complaint is election fraud by (name redacted). Complaint was made to Carl Cambria that he was placed on ballot without knowledge or consent. Spoke with Norm about this improper nomination. Recommend that complaint be upheld. In future elections, all candidates should sign a form to their nomination. Executive Board reserves right to take future action if election is impacted. Apparently candidate wasn’t aware he was on the ballot until members of his school approached him. In text exchanges, it appears that the candidate was interested in one position (NYSUT Delegate), but not executive board. Appears that there were communication issues, and our text data isn’t complete (parts of conversation deleted). The candidate does not want to be on the ballot and this allegation should be upheld. Mike Schirtzer debates. He gave his information to be on the ballot, said he wanted one position but not another, is that correct? Vote: Upheld, Schirtzer abstaining.