Thursday, June 13, 2024

Norm Handicaps the 2024 Retiree Chapter Election - 35% is bad, 45% and above is a winning formula going forward

Unity Caucus - The Real Enemy Within
I went to the DA Wednesday with a leaflet I wrote under the Ed Notes banner with the headline above where I pointed to the leadership working closely with the city and private health insurance - outside the UFT - to undermine retiree healthcare. In brief conversations even some with Unity, people seemed to agree that the healthcare issue is not a good one for Unity. I had conversations, especially since my recent major health issue, with Unity people about how if I was on Mulgrewcare I would not be able to get the quick service in terms of tests and seeing new docs so easily. They all nod their heads and seem to agree -- so even in the deep state there's skepticism. 
But will loyalty to Unity triumph over common sense?
Then I attended the 14th annual Skinny Awards event with the usual amazing ed activist crowd. Saw many old pals. Leonie honored PEP members, including Kaliris for the 2nd time. It was a big crowd of ed deform resisters, some for over decades. Proud to be among them. 
I saw Jonathan there and we chatted briefly about possible election numbers. He did a deeeeeeeep dive on election numbers. Really worth a read. 
I'm not going to go so deep.

(Late) Thursday June 13, 2024
I'm staying in the city so I can get down to the retiree chapter vote count early Friday morning. I've been back and forth on the potential outcome from slight win for us to slight win for Unity to big win for Unity (meaning 65-70%). 

I know I'm going to make some of my colleagues angry in this analysis because people consider taking hard looks and not being positive as defeatist. Most of my colleagues are more optimistic than me (a noted pessimist) who always looks at the downside.) 
So, on the day before the count, it is safe to come out of the water. Or is it?
  • In my interview with Daniel Alicea on the WBAI Talk Out of School program he asked me to handicap the election and I told him he'd have to wait for today. I talk about how I got into teaching, the process I went through in becoming an activist and my version of opposition history through the early 90s. We end on the membership voting down the 1995 contract. To be continued in a few weeks with part 2 taking us up to current events in the UFT.  Listen to Part 1 (
I shared my pessimism with one of our candidates the other day -- he's a long time UFT activist going back to the 70s and a founder of ICE. He is not as pessimistic, saying he's been on contact with many Unity retirees, all of whom are so pissed at the Medicare situation, they say they are voting against Unity. Others report the same but that may be a particular non-hard core Unity.

Does Unity really have to worry about losing?

I feel there is a massive retiree Unity loyalty hell or high water block that is immovable.
So let's take a hard look at the current RTC election by the numbers and see if Unity is really threatened with losing or just panicking and tossing around hysterical charges at Retiree Advocate and Marianne Pizzitola whose NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees has just managed to save UFT retirees thousands of dollars over the past few years while the UFT/Unity gangsters have alied with the city and insurance companies. Exactly who is the enemy within?
I'm going to make this argument in the context that getting former non-voters to vote is a key in this election.

RTC Election Results, as reported on Ed Notes on June 23, 2021

Slate results:
Total votes cast: 23,024
Retiree Advocate/UFT: 6755 (29.3%)
Unity slate: 16,269 (70.7%)

Chapter Leader Results:
Total votes cast: 23,546
Gloria Brandman, RA: 6900 (29.3%)
Tom Murphy, Unity: 16,646 (70.7%)
  • Note that about 500 people split their ballots -- a big error as slate votes are how we judge results.
You will notice that there is almost a ten thousand vote difference between Unity and RA. The key question is whether RA can make up that 10K difference. 

But let's jump ahead to the 2022 general election numbers where I had high hopes for the retiree vote.

Retiree ballots mailed: 68,970. Returned: 27,451
Unity: 19,368. United for Change:  7,984
  • "the most dramatic number in this election’s turnout was the surge in retiree votes, 4,600 more votes than three years ago." - Jonathan
Yes - a year after Mulgrewcare we hoped more retirees would vote but even these new voters still did a 70-30% split. That is why I'm pessimistic.
While we went up by one thousand and Unity went up by 3000 votes A YEAR AFTER MEDICARE. 

The 2022 outcome is my major reason for thinking Unity will win this bigger than we think. Some people point out that my focus on that election is wrong and that over the past 2 years there is more erosion in Unity.
What is bigger? The worst outcome for us is sticking to the 30% but I don't expect that will happen. How about 35%? That would be very disappointing. We need to get to 40% to give people hope the opposition could close to 50% by next year. 45% would be a big boost. Winning would be better.
We live in a bubble of retiree anti-Mulgrew/Unity sentiment due to the healthcare issue. Outside that bubble where retirees are not getting any info other than from the Unity machine, it is a different story.  

There are the people who are not plugged into any network - the vast majority of the 70k retirees, some of whom are not even aware of the healthcare issue or the chapter election. Expect well over half not to vote -- if over half did vote - non-voters from the past - RA could win. But I don't expect such a big turnout based on previous elections. I'll get into more detail on the numbers below.
I wrote on May 19, 2022:
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.

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.
So you can see I was not optimistic two years ago about this upcoming election but am more so than then.
The Shanker Advantage Still Holds for older Retirees: Voting for Shanker and forgetting that Mulgrew is no Albert Shanker
The other night we were out with a couple we know for 50 years. He's a UFT retiree. I asked if he voted yet. He said NO. He knows about the healthcare issue. But people are in his ear. A good friend says he will vote Unity because Unity has been good for us because of Shanker. Our friend's sister says the same. She will never vote anti-Unity. And these are not Unity members. They dismiss the healthcare issue. Do they actually believe Mulgrew has a better plan? They probably can afford to pay an extra premium if Mulgrew gets his way and gives us "choice" with pay for what we now have for free option.
Did they forget the Randi/Bloomberg years? Have they forgotten the reduction of interest from 8.25 to 7%? Of course they have no knowledge of the Tier 6 sellout. They were probably retired to witness the even more inept Mulgrew years. There will be no way to shake them. 
I'd bet there are a whole lot more like them, which leads to me taking a harder look at the realities.
That's not a good sign for this election. I have been assuming that if we can get the vote totals up to the 30-35k range, most of those votes would go to us. But Unity still pulls a lot of loyalty. Tens of thousands of retirees were or still are in Unity. And they have been as propagandized by the Unity machine as FOX with the Trumpies. 

We have an almost 12,000 vote gap to make up and with the court wins the pressure is sort of off Mulgrew. How can we make up the gap?

Will Unity votes slip? At most they will slip a little. But maybe not. So I start by giving them 18-20K. If they actually slip back to their 2021 16k, RA may be in the ball game.

RA vote will increase because we have 300 candidates and a lot more outreach and people are telling us their friends are voting RA. Even right wingers. But lots of retirees to some surprise are not totally tuned into the healthcare issue and also some are fine with MedAdv - a woman going in to the RTC meeting told me all her relatives in Massachusetts are happy with MedAdv and she is also on some plan she is happy with. She might have been Unity.

The major hope to close the gap is the Marianne fans, which is why Unity is so intent on attacking her. But does she have enough outreach to close the gap? I'm guessing no, but her people will make the election closer - I hope. 
The key question will be whether we get 35% or 40% or 45%? or 51%

How can we win?
On the bright side, stories are coming in from hundreds of people who say they have contacted their retiree networks and people are saying they are voting RA. Let's say we get about a thousand vote bump from them.

The way to victory is for Unity to lose a few thousand - down to 15 or 16K and for us to get those votes plus our outreach plus the Marianne crowd. But if would be close no matter what as the best case scenario. 
And then expect Unity to do what it can to undermine the win in every way they can.

Expect the vote count to contain elements of a shit show.
We will post what we know Friday night - unless we are sleeping over at the AAA.



Lois Weiner said...

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. Many thanks to the retirees who worked so hard to organize this slate, program, and get-out-the-vote campaign. See you in the DA!

ed notes online said...

Thanks Lois. How great it would be to be back in the DA with you and Bruce and so many old UFT warriors. DAs will be conducted in Swedish in your honor.