Sunday, June 16, 2024

Earthquake in the UFT/Unity Machine as regular Unity voters desert the mother ship for RA in 30 point vote swing

There is no joy in Mudville. Mighty Unity has struck out.
Unofficial totals rough numbers: RA 17,000+, Unity 10,000+

What exactly did RA win? Due to the wrong winner take all (instead of proportional rep) system, RA gets it all:

10 officers, 15 ex bd (I am one) and all 300 delegates to the DA (not AFT). I reminded a long time Unity guy at the count that if they had prop rep they would have had over 100 delegates and over a third of the officers and ex bd and I believe that would be better for the union. I reminded him that 3 years ago RA asked for 5 out of 300 DA position so our voters would be represented and were turned down. I imagine with us in charge we will actually call for a fair system.

The major impact on the union goes beyond the RTC. Our 300 delegates are packed with long-time and experienced former CL, Del, Ex Bd members - and UFT Pres candidates. (Our saddest moment is thinking about how James Eterno will not be there with us.)
Let me note that Unity has been planning on some carve out of the 7k para retirees from the RTC chapter. Let's see if retired paras go for it. I bet they don't.
And don't forget the para election where all 8 slate candidates on the Fix Para Pay slate won. But Unity won all 268 delegates and the rest of officers and ex bd. Unity did some rigging of this election. But look for the FPP slate to grow and be part of the oppo next year.

You have certainly changed the dynamics in the NYC labor movement: Ray Markey President New York Public Library Retirees Association, President (Ret) New York Public Library Guild Local 1930, VP (Ret) DC37 Executive Board AFSCME -- comment on Arthur's Substack

IMPORTANT NOTE: The final RTC meeting, (the last for the next 3 years under Unity control) of the year will take place on Tuesday June 18 at 1 PM at 52 Broadway, followed by RA inviting those who show up to join us at a local establishment. Randi is the guest at the RTC meeting. Who knows, she might even drop in at the RA event.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

I was wrong. The wrongest one of anyone. 
At most I expected RA to lose with about 45%.  63% was beyond comprehension. This is a tale of a massive shift in voting sentiment amongst retirees. Can the same shift occur in the general election next year? It now seems possible -- if the forces opposed to Unity can actually unite - always problematical, which I will delve into at some other time. Let me catch you up on Friday's historic events with some instant analysis.
I left you on Friday with a last minute 12PM early update that presaged the tsunami about to hit the UFT, Unity Caucus and the opposition movement. I called Jonathan who saw the 28k as good for us while I felt we needed 33-35k with many new voters to win. I didn't account for the massive shift of Unity voters. I turned off my computer and was about to leave when Bennett texted early sampling showing us winning each batch by a lot, so I turned on my computer and updated with those early returns:
RA  Unity
34    25
22    13
17      8
23    16
19     12
So this was my 12:15 report:
I got back to the count at 1 and Jonathan was just getting there and said "We won and its over 60%." Only a relatively few votes had been counted but the sampling was going our way.

When I entered the counting room and saw the faces of the Unity crew, the story was told -- but this was 1PM with less than half the ballots counted. I texted Bruce Markens, one of the heroes of the opposition since the early 1960s and he said he'd come down to the vote count. The last time he went to a vote count was when the members turned down the 1995 contract. Bruce is two for two. Let's get him there for next year's election. RA core people were showing up and at some point we had to rotate into the viewing room. As usual, Yasmin, in charge of elections, was gracious -- we even got to share the pizza and drinks with the counting staff who took a lunch break with about half the ballots counted.
As the afternoon went on, the Unity crew huddled in the corridor and phone calls were being made to HQ. RA people were stoic. We never gloated.
My samples from that point on were coming up 50-50 or is slightly ahead so I still had doubts until close to 7PM when the shocking informal totals were read. At that point I figured we'd probably with with 53%. But I overheard a UFT official on the phone estimating 58%. So, yes, 63% blew us away.

Why is the big margin important? If Unity had planned any tricks like protesting the election over outside interference or some other gambit, they'd look like the Jan. 6 crowd. But I put nothing past them. I would be surprised if they cooperated in transition and not surprised if they throw roadblocks in the way of RA running the chapter. But you never know. Some of them near the top may have voted for us and with our sense of running a democratic chapter, some may see it to their advantage to cooperate.
A number of people have mentioned James Eterno and how much he would have relished this win. Plus he would have been an RTC ex bd member and delegate. The only sad moments we had Friday.
Then we went out to celebrate and were joined by Marianne Pizzitola whose work fighting the machine had so much to do with winning the healthcare battle - so far. Unity attacks on her as a Trojan Horse not only did not work, but brought us votes.
We were joined by a young very well respected working teacher activist who raced over to congratulate us and join the celebration and that was a great sign of hopefully coming united front.

Just in the last two days, congrats are pouring in from all factions. Winning and winning this big can help heal many wounds. My message will be "eye on the prize." Taking the UFT our of the hands of Unity has to be the focus, not petty and not so petty issues. This is the only issue --- if we win having diverse views instead of the single Unity type  line makes for a better union.

I had a conversation with someone on our team yesterday who asked if the means justify the ends. And I say if the ends means 60 years of Unity ruling comes to an end, then my principles are flexible. The major ally Unity has is the ideologues on the oppo who want a perfect coalition that meets their ideology. No single ideology can win a UFT election. It needs to be broad-based like Retiree Advocate, with people from ICE, NAC and old MOREs plus independents.
A theme I saw which may rankle some: MUGA - MAKE THE UFT GREAT AGAIN!
A tale of usual voters switching sides
To me the story is not as much as new voters as old voters dumping Unity. There were not enough new voters to create a 7k gap - in actuality RA rose by 10 k and Unity dropped by 6k. We went from 30 to 63% in 2 years. Shades of Chicago, c. 2010.

We saw signs in the 2022 general election of abandoning Unity but they did not shift to the oppo. They just didn't vote. I don't think ex-Unity ever trusts the oppo enough to vote for them. This was the first time we saw a massive shifting of votes. RA had obviously gained their trust due to an astute and effective campaign and great choices in the people running for RTC officers, exec bd and delegates. And of course the support of Marianne Pizzitola and NYC Retirees.
One commenter had a different interpretation 
  • The election results (hurray!) showed that union elections are won and lost by reformers mostly by getting out people who have been non-voters. The new voters were the margin of victory. Hope the active teachers see this and learn from it.
Remember. over 40,000 retirees didn't vote, amazing given the outreach from both sides. 
Yes, there were over 4000 more votes than the last RTC election in 2021 when RA got less than 7K and Unity had over 16K. My concerns had been with the general election 2 years ago with over 27k votes - just 1k less than this election and Unity got 19k and we got less than 9k. I couldn't see how we could close that gap in 2 years but Jonathan argued all along that the chapter election is different from the general election.

I was so sure the Unity faithful would ignore the health issue and vote loyalty. Boy was I wrong. My old pal Ira who worked with many Unity people had been assuring me that they all said they were voting RA. Others were saying the same. I figured just some anecdotal but they had their ear to the ground.

Are public Unity defections coming?

So there is another factor. We already saw some Unity CLs quitting and even joining New Action. Will higher levels be joining in with their jobs on the line if Unity loses?

When faced with a possible loss next year, will some middle and even higher level Unity people begin to abandon ship? Mulgrew is not liked by a lot of Unity people and after this election he will take a big hit -- maybe enough to knock him out as a candidate next year. If that is to happen we might see some action as soon as this summer because Unity always appoints the president almost a year before an election. (Sandy replaced Shanker before 1985 election and Randi replaced Sandy at least a year before the 99 election and Mulgrew replaced Randi in August 2009 a year before the 2010 election - when James opposed Mulgrew). 

One thing we know - don't get fooled again. I know people who were turned off to Randi welcomed Mulgrew as an alternative and joined the Unity machine. What if Mulgrew decides to retire -- maybe an AFT position but def not to replace Randi -- her successor is already decided - Melinda Person, who became NYSUT head a year ago.

 I can't wait to see the Labor Notes interpretation of the election.
 I will close on a few excepts from Arthur:

as Mulgrew sold us out, not one single member of his elite, privileged Unity Caucus said word one against it. Not one member of Unity stepped down in protest.

That may change now. Sinking ships affect people in different ways. 63% of voting retirees have now declared Unity does not represent our interests. An impressive majority of us declared we don’t trust them with our health care. This loss is a precursor to the general election next year.

It’s entirely possible Mulgrew will step down and procure some sinecure with AFT or something, but anyone who takes his place will represent more of the same. Whoever it is must be defeated.

Personal note - I have mentioned my recent illness which is a tumor in my pancreas which they say is operable - scheduled for June 26. This blog has been active since August 2006 and of course as Ed Notes since 1997. So you may not be seeing too many posts on this blog after next weekend - but I may turn the keys over to some of my partners in crime.  And it I have a decent recovery I will be back - hopefully in time to attend the first RTC Meeting in October. 



Anonymous said...

I’m so proud of you Norman and all of the talented and committed retired teachers.

Laura Genovese said...

Congratulations Norm. Thank you for all you've done, and for always providing us with such important details. It makes sense and is heartening that many Unity people felt disgusted enough to voted for Retire Advocate and on behalf of our paras. I'm pretty convinced that even adamant Unity loyalists privately detest what Michael and they, themselves, have chosen to stand and do. But, like you say, while this is a time to celebrate and heal, we can't afford to underestimate how some furious Unity loyalists must already be conspiring to sabotage the Fix Par Pay seats and Retiree Advocate caucus, even in the few weeks Unity has left before July. You've been someone who values receipts, so I hope a multitude of us don't blink and do our damnedest to quickly take snapshots and/or collect evidence of any of their underhanded behavior. I observed, for example, how Unity's announcement about the City's loss of its recent Appeal got rapidly scrubbed off UFT's website soon after Marianne Pizzitola and Jonathan Halibi debunked their deceptive language (for those who don't know, Unity tried to conceal, within that slick update, how aggressively they've worked with the Mayor and Aetna to force us into their pro-profit MA health plan by emphasizing how they've not a part of the lawsuit -ugh!!) I'm so sorry to hear about your health concern Norm. Please get well soon and know that there are many of us praying for you and keeping close watch for you, your fellow RA Board and the Fix Para Pay bravs. And may Friday's landslide outcome heal you so much faster!!

ed notes online said...

THanks so much Laura. I always appreciate your views. There will be many tasks for us especially since we may not get much help from the UFT and will you to assist in whatever capacity you can.

Tom Forbes said...

Congratulations are well deserved. Thank you