Monday, May 9, 2022

UFT Election 2022 is officially over: Norms Numbers - The Big If - Retiree Turnout

Monday, May 9, 8 AM  - The UFT election just officially ended. The vote count begins tomorrow at 8 AM. I intend to be there for the entire time.

And how about that party coming up win or lose. Celebrate the coalition and working together.

So this is my last chance to make a few predictions without having people call me a defeatist. I'm going to take a shot at making some educated guesses.One thing to note - newbies in UFT elections are always amazingly optimistic, while old timers are much more realistic. But we are warned not to share our true views so as not to discourage people. But with the election over, I can let loose.

I'm usually pretty good at predicting outcomes based on past history but this year things are different for a number of reasons, which I delved into in my 3 part "Why is this election different series:

Of course  the Winner is..... the garbage can caucus - people who throw the ballot in the garbage consciously or unconsciously  since non-voters will be an overwhelming majority. There's a new wrinkle this year I had never realized - enormous numbers of people who never got a ballot and never even realized there was an election going on. 

If turnout is as usual, look for a bigger win than expected for Unity. Less than in previous years, but in the 70% range. In 2016 Unity got about 40K votes and oppo got around 13k. That's a pretty big gap to close if turnout is the same.

The retiree vote is the focus of attention: 60k mailed out (How many actually got to people?) 2016 turnout 37%

The major hope for UFC has been that the 85% pro-Unity retiree vote won't hold this time due to MulgrewCare. But the question is how deep do Unity losses go? 

In order to look at potentials, we must start with a base and we use 2016 (2019 with 4 caucuses running was anomaly). In 2016 we had MORE/NA vs Unity as slate vs slate, with Solidarity not attaining slate status, but still in the race. Note the low turnout numbers, especially in the in-service divisions.

As you can see in the chart below from 2016 (thanks to Jon Halabi),  24,500 retirees voted and with the 23.5 max limit, each vote counted for .95ish.  Unity got 20K and oppo 4k. Unity got just over 20K from the entire working corps. So 50% of their vote was retirees.

So let's look at the possibilities in the retiree vote. In last year's retiree chapter election, just as the news of MulgrewCare was breaking, Retiree Advocate (RA) for just short of 7K (30%) and Unity got around 16K, compared to 2016, some serious slippage but way short of being a major difference maker in this election. There's too much ground to make up in the working divisions.  Turnout in 2016 was 37% so there's a chance for over 40%.

A key is turnout since anything above 24K will lean hard to UFC due to MulgrewCare. So retiree returns are a key. 

Ballots not received or put aside

I had been fairly optimistic of an increase in the 27-30K range, but in the past few days grew a bit discouraged.

I found that out last night when I called a former colleague to wish her a happy birthday and asked if she voted and she said "for what?" She never got a ballot. Now if there electronic voting like we requested, she still would have had time to vote before the Monday 8AM deadline.

I had the same issue with a retiree I met the other day who did have her ballot but thought she had time to mail it until Monday. Two lost votes for UFC. Unity sure knows what it is doing when it comes to vote suppression. My former colleague who is not union political said on tonight's call: They (Unity) sound like Republicans.

So let's call it an uptick in retiree vote output and let's add some Unity pissed off over MulgrewCare voting for UFC. Don't forget that Unity Caucus is massive, with retiree outposts all over the country pushing their propaganda. I'd bet one third of retirees have links to Unity. But if that 30% vote last year is a base, we have to see some expansion. Just how much above 30%? If it's 40% of retiree votes and say 26K vote, that gives UFC over 10K and Unity 16K, still too big a difference to make up. If it broke 14k Unity and 12K UFC, then it gets interesting. But in the real world it has to be bigger than 2016. Say 40-45%? That gets interesting.

The High School Vote: 22K mailed out, 7 ex bd seats at stake: 2016 turnout 20%

This is where UFC has its best chance. Unity has not won the high schools on its own since 1993 (they lost in 1991 and in 1985 too). They only won in 2007,10, 13 with New Action help. HS wins used to be as high as 3400 when the oppo was very strong in the then big schools, especially in Manhattan. But the big school breakup has helped drive down union interest, though that didn't help Unity much.

In 2016, when NAC switched sides, MORE/NA won with 2275. Add over 100 for Solidarity and we start with a base of 2,400. Unity got under 2100. So, starting with these numbers as a base, turnout is again the issue. If HS turnout is the same, it is a horse race, with UFC slightly favored. 

Unity ran a hard HS campaign

But this time Unity campaigned harder in the high schools than it has in 20 years. In the past they seemed content to give the hs to the oppo - 7% of the ex bd looks a little democratic - very little while 100% of the ex bd for Unity looks Russia like. But this time they want to stamp out the opposition or at least divide it. In 2016 a key block of votes came from Francis Lewis HS where I was involved in a GOTV campaign. With Arthur's switch to Unity, that will pull votes away from UFC in that large HS. Swap 100 votes and the election is even.

UFC also ran hard HS but did they GOTV?

But counter to that is that UFC also ran a hard HS campaign with a lot more people in a lot of high schools running in the election. The key is how well they did in getting the people in their own schools to vote. For me this is the great mystery. 

At times UFC people seemed more enamored of social media than the in school door to door GOTV. And don't forget that with the spring break and the limited time to get replacement ballots, the GOTV is up in the air. UFC HS people did go out and leaflet other schools, which I don't count on making as much a difference as rousing your own building. 

I really have no feel for how the GOTV went. If we win by a hair -- that is status quo - the usual election. If we win big - over 55%- that is a sign. Usually 5k HS vote. If it goes to 7K or above that is good for UFC. If 6K HS people vote, that would be a win for UFC. Maybe a bigger win than expected. If 5K it's 50-50. If god forbid it turns into a big win for Unity - say 55% -- then I leave this election scratching my head and retiree immediately from UFT politics.

If we lose the HS it is a bomb for UFC and I don't know if the coalition survives. After all that work and win nothing? People may just go back to their own caucuses, a win for Unity.  

Does turnout hit 30% or even 25?? That would be a potential big win for UFC, but could also reflect Unity increased turnout. 

Prediction based on word of mouth - narrow win for UFC besed on precedent and larger force in the hs. But low turnout would be a condemnation of election tactics.

One more note. HSVP Janella Hinds is popular but she can also get less votes than the UFC HS people out of the hs -- she would win due to non hs votes. Does it hurt her if UFC wins the HS? She is considered a strong contender for next UFT president, is popular with many high school teachers -- but they are not the majority of the union. See below for my comments on elem vp Karen Alford -- who by the way I was on a committee with back in 1999 when Randi set up a charter school committee under the chair of then Elem VP Michelle Bodden - than also a rumored Randi successor who disappeared into the UFT charter school with Mulgrew taking the role --- Randi's biggest mistake - among many.

Middle Schools - What is possible? 11k ballots out. 4 Ex bd seats, 2016 turnout 24%

These are only grades 6-8 schools and 4 Ex Bd seats on the line. 

Some people thought the middle schools were winnable this time. We certainly made it a point to flyer as many large MS as possible -- but as I've said, flyering has much less impact than having a person on site and I didn't see enough UFC middle school people to close the gap.

In 2016 Unity got only 1650 - 61% and oppo got only 860 for MORE/NA and almost 200 for Solidarity. If turnout goes up to 30%, can the oppo close the gap? It's a 600 vote difference so with big turnout is closeable.
Definitely Unity is favored here but I would expect a closer election - maybe 55% for Unity? If UFC gets in the 50-50 range, that ie an echo of 1991, the only time the oppo won both hs and ms.

Elemantary: 36k ballots, 26% return in 2016

I started this election telling people we could win the elementary schools if we formed a strong committee and worked target districts where we have strength. 

It didn't happen and there is not only no chance to win, but a potential big blowout for Unity. I saw some fire in the eyes in a few elementary people but mostly a flicker.

However, hope springs eternal. I was a proud elementary school teacher and often hear high school oppo people disparaging remarks - even some people wanted to break the high schools out of the union. But the turnout in elem was considerably higher than high schools.

Look at the 2016 numbers. Unity had over 7K votes - 74%. MORE/NA 2300 and Solidarity 200. That's a serious gap and my hopes were to close that down to a reasonable number that could be bridged in the next election. Unity CL and their district reps driving them dominate elementary - I'd bet every single mail box got a leaflet. Most didn't get UFC so have no concept there is a UFC. 

But let's play the output game. What if it goes over 30%? Increased output is better for UFC but with the relative weakness in elementary schools I'm not so sure.

Start with a Unity base of 7k and an oppo base of 2500. 5K would be a doubling and a victory of sorts for UFC if Unity stays at 7K or falls below. A drop to 5k for them would be a sign that despite no campaigning, the impact of Covid and the UFT response had a big effect. Plus other failures on the part of Unity.

One note - Elem VP Karen Alford is my pick for succeeding Mulgrew is the overall election goes bad for him -- like under 60%. And a big number in elementary schools looks good for her.

Functionals: 60K ballots, 2016 turnout 16%, Unity 75%

This is always a big win for Unity - and includes retirees who are counted separately. So this report is without the retiree vote ---

In 2016 Unity got about 7600 and the oppo about 2500, a major gap along the lines of elementary schools.

But a few things have happened in the functiomas. OT/PT elected oppos people. I hear social workers are pissed. Every secretary I met is unhappy. Paras are the big nut for Unity and their leader Shelvy Young is a dynamo - in fact if Unity were smart, she would be a great replacement for Mulgrew. Sooner rather than later.

Will returns go up? Even 20% would be a big move. 25% would close the gap. But I don't think UFC ran very much of an effective campaign aimed at functionals. Look for the usual big win for Unity - I'd take 65% for UFC as a win.


If we lose the HS it is a bomb for UFC and I don't know if the coalition survives. After all that work and win nothing? People may just go back to their own groups to avoid all the angst of building coalition consensus. 

A HS win would give UFC 7 Ex Bd with reps from all the groups. They'd have to work together. A long-shot win in MS would be massive with 11 dynamo Ex bd members and a base to build for the next election.

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