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What if UFC wins? #4 Elections

April 18, 2022 pm30 3:20 pm

Elections! If United for Change wins, there will be a whole lot of changes…

And some of them will effect elections.

#4 Elections

I am the UFC candidate for High School Vice President. If we win I will be one of 12 members of the administrative committee (AdCom) and will help shape the new leadership’s agenda.

I cannot speak for our Coalition – these are decisions that need to be made. But I know our platform, and have a good idea about some decisions.

Chapter Leaders

Chapter Leaders are, for most of our members, the only union representative they interact with. Chapter Leaders are a critical part, the most critical part of our union. They must have a strong link with their members. Members vote for their Chapter Leader. That helps maintain that connection.

We serve our members. We are chosen by our members. Election of Chapter Leaders is necessary for the health of our union. United for Change will maintain direct elections of Chapter Leaders by their members.

Strange (maybe?) personal thought: Thirty years ago Chapter Leaders served two-year terms. Was the move to three year terms an improvement? That could be an interesting discussion, though it is not part of anyone’s agenda today. Elections take work to organize. That’s a minus. But they engage members in the union. That’s a plus. And if they tried to move President, Senate and Congress from 4 years, 6 years and 2 years to 6, 9 and 3 – people wouldn’t be so happy. I think this is a discussion worth having, but not today. It’s not obvious to me which way such a discussion would go (but I’d love any discussion that really engaged our chapter leaders).

Delegates to the Delegate Assembly

Delegate election happens along with Chapter Leader Election, and is mostly a non-issue… except…

There are multiple delegates from some chapters. That usually doesn’t matter much – but in larger chapters, especially functional chapters, especially the Retired Teachers Chapter (RTC), that’s a whole lot of delegates.

Last Spring Unity won 70% of the vote in the RTC. Retiree Advocate (today, running wth UFC) won 30%. Unity won roughly 200 delegates. UFC won 0. This is just wrong.

UFC would move us towards proportional representation, at least in the RTC, perhaps in all functional chapters. I don’t know how technically feasible or desirable this would be in school-based chapters. A constitutional amendment may be required – but we would look into that.

District Representatives

United for Change favors a return to election of District Representatives. This will happen if we are elected. It was wrong to move to a system of presidentially appointed DRs. The link between Chapter Leaders and District Reps is a critical one, and making them less responsible to each other was a serious error.

How soon will we make this change? As quickly as we can. I would expect to see elections, fast.

I also think that DRs should be elected from amongst Chapter Leaders in the district (Unity changed those rules). This job should be for people to serve their district, their schools, their members, their chapter leaders. It should not be a “stepping stone” position. UFC has, however, not discussed this at that level of detail.

Interesting question: how many current DRs (all Unity) would win if they ran? If their Chapter Leaders got to vote? Or got to challenge them?

My guess – a third would win. A third wouldn’t stand a chance. And the last third might be interesting.

Vice Presidents

Divisional Vice Presidents should be elected by their respective divisions. This is how it used to be – until Michael Shulman of New Action won the High School Vice Presidency. Unity responded, when it could, by making all VPs “VP at large” and having everyone, all divisions, all functional chapters, all retirees, having all of them vote on, for example, the elementary school VP. The right to elect the elementary school VP should be returned to elementary school teachers.

This change will require an amendment to the constitution. Instead of electing 7 At Large VPs, we would elect: VP Elementary Schools, VP Middle Schools, VP Academic High Schools, VP Career and Technical HS, VP Special Ed, VP Non-DoE, and, finally, one VP At Large.

Executive Board

I can think of three large changes to the Executive Board

  1. Proportional representation within divisions, and within the “at large” group. It is absolutely ridiculous and actually kind of offensive that these seats are winner-take-all. How can they be actually representative of their division. This is not in the UFC platform, but I think we would have broad agreement. It is not addressed in the constitution, so I don’t know if we would need an amendment, or if it would be better to go another route.
  2. Separate divisions for large functional chapters. There is no reason that Paraprofessionals must be lumped in with “functional” – they deserve to have a designated division within the Executive Board. Same with Retirees. I do not not know how the rest of UFC thinks about this, but it is worth a discussion. Specific divisions would have to be named – and this would need to be a constitutional change – so if there were support, it would require the full amendment process.
  3. Increase the size of each division’s representation – and decrease the At Large. There are 12 officers, 42 divisional, and 48 At Large positions. That’s almost half at large? The number At Large should be cut at least in two, while increasing representation for Middle School, Paraprofessionals, other Functionals, etc. This, today, is my opinion alone. But if we are looking at the Exec Board, and considering changes, I would suggest this, and I think it makes enough sense that it would at least get serious consideration.

NYSUT, AFT, and NEA Delegates

We favor proportional representation. These positions are not mentioned in our constitution, but the change to proportional representation should be taken just as seriously for NYSUT delagates as for Exec Board and Functional Chapter Delegate.

How we vote

The current system seems designed to suppress turnout. United for Change would immediately investigate systems of electronic or in school voting, and choose the method most likely to produce a secure election, but also an election with high turn out.

A more honorable leadership would be mortified by the chronic low turnout in UFT elections. In-service turnout has hovered around 25%, and in middle schools has been as low as 17%. Those numbers should have provoked a committee, a study, recommendations, and a new system. They indicate a crisis. Instead, Unity is comfortable with low turnout, as long as they are returned to office.

A United for Change victory will be translated into a voting system that tries to reconnect our disconnected members, that engages the majority of our members in union elections.

So how would this have played out?

Had all these changes been in place before the 2016 elections, there would have been much higher turnout. There would have been more divisions. There is no way to see what effect those things would have had. But what if the system were the same, but 1) VPs were elected by division, 2) Exec Board members were elected proportionately in each division, and at large, and 3) AFT/RA delegates were elected proportionately.

My calculations below are rough, and assume one common method of allocating seats proportionately. The real numbers could have been a bit higher or lower, but would have been close to this.

2016

What happened

Unity won all the officers.

Unity won 100% of Elementary School, Middle School, and Functional Exec Board seats. Unity won 100% of At Large Exec Board seats. MORE/New Action won the High School Exec Board seats. Exec Board total: 95 Unity, 7 MORE/New Action.

Unity won all 750 conventional delegates.

What would have happened

Officers: Unity would have won 10 or 11. MORE/New Action would have won Academic HS VP, and possibly Career and Technical HS VP

Exec Board

  • Exec Board Elementary School: 8 Unity, 3 MORE/NAC
  • Exec Board Middle School: 3 Unity, 2 MORE/NAC
  • Exec Board High School: 3 Unity, 4 MORE/NAC
  • Exec Board Functional: 15 Unity, 3 MORE/NAC, 1 Solidarity
  • Exec Board At Large: 37 Unity, 10 MORE/NAC, 1 Solidarity

The total for the Exec Board would have roughly been 76 Unity, 24 MORE/New Action, 2 Solidarity

Delegates (rough calculation): Unity 570, MORE/New Action 160, Solidarity 20.

2019

What happened

Unity won all the officers.

Unity won 100% of Elementary School, Middle School, High School Functional Exec Board seats. Unity won 100% of At Large Exec Board seats. Exec Board total: 102 Unity, no opposition.

Unity won all 750 conventional delegates.

What would have happened

Officers: Unity would have won all the officers.

Exec Board

  • Exec Board Elementary School: 9 Unity, 1 MORE, 1 Solidarity
  • Exec Board Middle School: 4 Unity, 1 Solidarity
  • Exec Board High School: 4 Unity, 1 MORE, 1 New Action, 1 Solidarity
  • Exec Board Functional: 16 Unity, 1 MORE, 1 New Action, 1 Solidarity
  • Exec Board At Large: 40 Unity, 3 MORE, 1 New Action, 4 Solidarity

The total for the Exec Board would have roughly been 85 Unity, 6 MORE, 3 New Action, 8 Solidarity

Delegates (rough calculation): Unity 625, MORE 40, New Action 25, Solidarity 60.

Summary

A Unity victory will lead to more of what we currently have. More backroom deals. More Executive Board meetings with hands being raised in unison, with no real questions or debate. More trashing opponents, and refusing to engage members in real discussion. And whatever policy mistakes they are making today and have made recently, they will continue to do exactly the same. There will be no voice for those who disagree. And, as we can see, those who serve on elected bodies, but were put there by Unity, serve in silence. They serve Unity, not their members.

A United for Change victory would lead to a fairer election system, with more vibrant discussions. We will make sure that minority voices are heard. Eliminating much of the “winner-take-all” voting would help elevate the clash of ideas over the current cheap shots. Proportional representation would not change who wins an election. The majority will still be the majority. But proportional representation would bring significant other voices into leadership. United for Change will welcome serious discussion. We know that that backroom is not the place to finalize plans. We want fuller discussion and debate – which lead, ultimately, to better policy.

I trust our members to consider proposals carefully. I value their thoughts, ideas, suggestions. There will be differences, and some ideas will be rejected. But a union leadership that silences voices in advance, that refuses to hear them, to let them be heard – a union leadership that plots in secret and demands that leaders acquiesce to policy rather than discuss/make policy – that leadership should not be leading.

It is time for a change. Vote United for Change.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2022 am30 11:56 am 11:56 am

    Excellent analysis. Ironically if UFC wins Unity gets to play a major role with the changes as a minority party. How the DA is run would be an interesting test. I would expect Unity to play a role of undermining and criticizing like the current Republicans do. Their goal would be to try to take power. So acting fast to make the kinds of changes to ensure the future democracy is essential. Also on Retirees — I’d reduce their impact from 23,500 to around 10K, so roughly each vote counts as .5. They will scream about this but they have established the groundrules of a partial vote. Some say retirees should not vote for officers at all. I think a reduced vote would work but also I would ad a VP for retirees and two Ex Bd seats only. We could expand the board also to be more inclusieve. On functionals I like splitting them up into individual sextions — ie paras, social workers etc elect to ex bd directly.
    Maybe no at large at all.

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  1. What Difference Would Proportional Representation Make? | JD2718

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