Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Can Unity Be Beaten in 2025 UFT Election? What was right and wrong with the UFC Coalition

Can Humpty Dumpty be put back together again? I say NO and let's start all over. We can't be hamstrung by having to wait for every caucus to approve every move. Let's move beyond caucuses and have key people from every interested party get together outside the caucus structure and move ahead. I am in the minority on this point within the oppo movement in NYC.
Wednesday, June 26

Already speculation has begun about next year's general UFT election where for the first time in it's over 60-year hegemony, Unity Caucus control of the UFT may be threatened.There is speculation that many Unity people, especially those with jobs, wouldn't mind seeing Mulgrew, who has become a millstone for them, decide to retire. (hose speculating he might replace Randi as AFT pres one day are barking up the wrong tree - he never had a shot. NYSUT president Melinda Person is Randi's replacement. Mulgrew is in the same position as Biden, where many Dems wish he didn't run. If Mulgrew does run and Unity loses, can the tar and feather be far behind?  

Who might Unity slide into Mulgrew's place and would it make a big difference? Randi, who seems to be popping up around her lately, may see her own control of the AFT threatened by a Unity loss, is probably involved in some ways. I hear names like Mary Vocarro and Elem VP Karen Alford. Losing Mulgrew might just distract enough people to give Unity the win.

But to me no matter what they do, Unity does not seem to inspire the loyalty it once did. Expect the Tier 6 issue, with 55% of current teachers, to resonate no matter how Unity tries to say they woke up after 10 years and allowing Tier 6 to pass without opposition. Endorsing the architect of Tier 6, Micah Lasher, won't help - but only if the oppo makes this an effective campaign item. It is not just Mulgrew but Unity Caucus that helped give us Tier 6. 


Jonathan applied the recent RA win numbers to the 2022 general election and we would have gotten 51% with those numbers. Retired Teacher election… What if? But as Jonathan has pointed out the retiree voting pattern in a general and chapter election is not the same, so for next year's election I wouldn't necessarily assume 63% of retirees would vote against Unity.

So the buzz is on about next year. RA people will be busy running the 70k chapter and there's a lot to do - like improving the food at RTC meetings and organizing our 300 delegates, which considering we recruited every former activist from the past, some of us who often disagreed, will be like herding cats. But oh so much fun.

Organizing a campaign against Unity will be like herding herds of cats. The excitement of the United for Change Coalition where 7 or 8 groups came together in Sept. of 2021, faded pretty quickly after the election. The big win was the 7 high school candidates which echoed the same win in 2016 with about 300 more votes, but still weak considering in the old days opposition in hs often topped 3k. But that was the only area of improvement. Every other division was stagnant from 2016 - except retirees hit 30%. While some celebrated the closing of the gap due to erosion of Unity votes, there was little sign of making a dent in getting active UFT members to vote for UFC. I of course was the Debbie Downer because so many of the newer recruits wanted to see the positive side.

Soon after the election, calls for UFC to meet fell on some deaf ears, especially MORE. Since UFC was founded on the sense of consensus of all groups even one major missing element threw a monkey wrench. But the HS group did meet regularly and worked together - for the first year. This past year things sort of fell apart with differences, some of which I can't make heads or tails about.

The problem with UFC was that each segment had veto power and for every decision, people said they had to go back to their caucus. Not much fun watching paint dry. 

Can Humpty Dumpty be put back together again? 

I say NO and let's start all over. We can't be hamstrung by having to wait for every caucus to approve every move. Let's move beyond caucuses and have key people from every interested party get together outside the caucus structure and move ahead. I echo the statement published today on the ICE blog: 

Here's my problem with the process of creation of UFC. It was done in darkness with select reps from invited caucuses and some individuals who met for 6 months in dark corners of zoom to put the platform and slate together. UFTers beyond this inner circle were left out of the process and there was a lot of caution. Frankly, I feel many of the leading oppo voices who often go through analytical angst over the state of the membership actually tail the underlying militancy that exists in many schools.

Caucuses tend to move through their own process in whatever democratic manner, with a steering committee and or executive board that must meet to decide important issues and then possibly go through a general meeting or membership vote before moving ahead.

This time the process must be more open and inclusive and less caucus controlled. 

There have been some big changes in the original UFC. 

James Eterno's death has hampered ICE and made the key communication agent, the blog, severely restricted. ICE is not a caucus and hasn't been one since it merged to form MORE in 2011. ICE has and continues to be open to all from any caucus and individuals connected to ICE are some of the major players in the opposition. ICE makes decisions by floating items on the listserve and seeking comments and modifications.

ICE members have and will support any moves toward a unified opposition but if there is fragmentation, ICE will meet and rethink its support.

With all this I am extremely proud of the work ICE has done over 20 years, whether as a caucus or not. We held 4 meetings in person this past year and all were invigorating. ICE must continue to function at any level it can and I expect many of its associates to be involved andl have input in next year's election.

Solidarity with Lydia gone has lost its great advocate and has not been very active, though there are some individuals who are in touch and we hope they will be part of a campaign.

That leaves New Action and MORE as the fairly active groups, along with of course Retiree Advocate, where I am part of the organizing committee that has proven to be so successful.

So fundamentally, there are major changes in what was UFC.

If the leading voices in the traditional opposition were to start, where exactly do they start working on organizing for the election? I have no easy answers - other than some people need to take the bull by the horn and JUST DO IT!

I am advocating for the key voices from the various groups to start talking outside their own caucus structure to reduce a formal caucus role but hopefully with the support of their caucus in the interest of winning.

While I was part of the process in creating UFC, I was uncomfortable with the slow pace. And the fact that there are loads of people out there who want change in the union but are not included in the process. We found out in the RA election that in recruiting 300 people to run and getting them involved we were a much bigger force. 

Of course RA is a caucus and the organizing committee did a great job. So am I talking out of two sides of my mouth?  Well, we had one major issue facing us - healthcare -  and we had to move fast and build alliances and most importantly, we were the only oppo game in retiree town and didn't have to build coalitions with internal competing groups but only with individuals and we certainly did with our 300 candidates.

Let's use that model as an example. We can run 750-800 people in the election next year. Let's reach out and get some more voices involved in organizing for the election and not stay behind closed doors until January petition craziness when it is already getting too late.

has some thoughts on next year on the MORE blog:


The electoral sweep by opposition forces in the paraprofessional and retiree chapters are nothing less than an electoral earthquake in UFT politics. By winning close to 2/3rds of the votes in these former bastions of Mulgrew’s UNITY caucus, the union activists in Fix Para Pay and Retiree Advocate slates have proven that it’s possible to electorally defeat UNITY’s 60 year control of the UFT. 

If the 2022 United for Change slate had received the same margin amongst retirees as in this years chapter election, we would have won by 51%

The retiree activists also have provided some new innovative and inspirational tactics and strategies we need to apply to our general union elections next year.

 Read if at What could a grassroots UFT election campaign look like?


This post will piss off some of my oppo colleagues but I will be in the hospital early tomorrow morning for a hopeful operation on my pancreas so I'm posting and running. You might not be hearing from me for a while so enjoy the best day of the year - the last day of school.



Anonymous said...

Sun Tzu famously said that battles are won or lost before they begin. The general UFT election is now one year away and currently there is NO organized group right now ready to take on Unity. That fact alone is bad enough. The other fact is that another coalition effort will probably face the same challenges it did last time. Add to that, MORE has turned off a lot of rank and file UFT members with their radical/world political agenda that has nothing to do with our working conditions. Unity can be beat but a hardcore force must start NOW.

Anonymous said...


It seems the retirees gave UNITY a very clear message; so , let's hope "in-service" folk will have the stones to do so as well seeing as UNITY has definitely been too cocky and too self-serving for too long.

I agree that Mulgrew and Biden have a lot in common. MY worst fear is that Le Roy Barr will ascend to the throne (whenever) Mulgrew leaves. He's worse that Mulgrew.