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UFT Elections – Sitting at the Count

April 28, 2013 pm30 5:56 pm

I arrived. Hotel meeting room, for a large meeting, set up with rows of tables with ballot counters doing something… sorting? flattening? stacking?  In front were some more important looking tables. I missed the scanners and monitors – I was looking for something else.

(Click here for Part I of this piece)

In the back, right, were the observers. I found Joel Berger, then found Mike Shulman. They were not wearing their concern on their faces, but I felt it. Before walking out with Mike I said hi to some of the Unity people and some of the MORE people. The Unity people looked bored, and perhaps a bit tired. The MORE people were relaxed.

Mike and I found a quiet place to sit around the corner. We looked through the participation numbers… down 30% across the board. We talked about what that means… not good. And Mike talked about MORE outpolling us 2:1 and 3:1… let me explain.

No results had yet been announced. But one (time consuming) stage in the vote takes each ballot and scans it. An image appears on a monitor for a second, and the next ballot scans. By watching the monitor it is possible to count a number of consecutive votes. Now, as Unity dominates most divisions, it is tempting to count MORE vs New Action for a while (easy to do, as there are breaks when Unity ballots are on screen), and extrapolate.

But that ratio (which is easy to exaggerate – take several samples, worry about the most alarming) does not tell whether there were any breakthrough type numbers. Were there numbers of votes that significantly exceeded what ICE and TJC had done previously? Had New Action’s totals shrunk beyond previous lows in any significant ways?  The answer to both, at 1 PM, was we did not know. When the day was done we learned that the answers were “No” and “No.”

Back in the room I graded, paced. Jack Miller took some posed photos. I chatted with Amy and Eileen and Leroy, and with James (and a bit Ellen. really just a hello with Joan). People say what they are supposed to say, more or less, when discussing politics and elections. Which made a brief discussion with a guy from Unity and a guy from MORE about their children’s schools a welcome break. I wandered up to the monitors, and tried to sample ballots.

And then the American Arbitration Association guy announced the first results – high school and middle school. He only announced slate votes – split ballots would not be added in until Friday. And in high school Unity had 1592, MORE had 1430, and New Action had 452. The seven endorsed by New Action and Unity (including me) outpolled their MORE opponents 2042 to 1430. And the only race where there was any doubt was now decided.

I stayed for two more rounds of announcements covering Elementary, and Functionals, then Retirees. Mike stayed with me. Joel left. The MORE people looked less relaxed as they realized that they had not been so far from winning the high schools. I wonder if they were doubting their decision not to meet with New Action to discuss this election back last summer. Unlikely. They were more likely annoyed that New Action’s high school candidates had, with Unity votes, beaten MORE’s candidates.

As the results came in, a batch at a time, I tabulated them. And I worked them over. And I began to look for patterns. New Action ended down from 11% to 9%, which was disappointing, but no disaster. MORE was at 13%, up from ICE/TJC’s 8%, good, but no breakthrough. Unity’s total fell from 81% to 77%, which does not sound so bad, but in fact, is (I’ll discuss that in a follow up post). And the total vote fell from 53 thousand to 43 thousand, which is a problem for our union.

In any case, I ran back to school (after five now) to pick up the completed work my coverages had left in my box.

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