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How Many Union Offices?

June 29, 2022 am30 12:15 am

How many union positions have I held?

I was a delegate from Columbus High School. That was maybe from 1998 – 2002? I was a consultation committee member there at the same time. I was deputy chapter leader from 2000-2002.

In 2002 I moved to American Studies (that’s when it opened) and I became Chapter Leader. In 2008 I was added to the UFT Executive Board, and then I was reelected in 2010, 2013, and 2016. I was not reelected in 2019.

And today? How many union offices do I hold today?

High School Vice President

High School teachers chose me to be their Vice President in May. I got most of their votes. But I did not win. Let me explain.

This Spring I ran in the United Federation of Teachers election. I ran for High School Vice President. I lost. The Unity Candidate, Janella Hinds, received 66%. I got 34%. That’s a little less than two-to-one. Actually, it’s a pretty good result for a non-Unity candidate, perhaps the best… since… hmm.

So you can see the numbers. I see the numbers. How can I claim I got more votes? Actually, I don’t claim I got more votes. I claim I got more high school votes. I did.

In 1985 Michael Shulman of New Action beat the Unity candidate, George Altomare, for High School Vice President. When Unity took the seat back they started playing with the constitution. And eventually what they came up with was what you see above – we do not run for “HS Vice President” but for “Vice President At-Large/High School (Academic)”. That “At-Large” business is so that elementary teachers participate in the selection of the HS Vice President. Elementary supports Unity. (or at least it has, up to now). High School does not support Unity.

So among all voters – mostly not high school voters, I received 34%. But in the high schools?

There were 2,508 slate votes for United for Change in the high schools. Most of those are academic high schools. And most of those votes are mine. Unity had 1,981. Most of those are Janella’s. There were perhaps a total of 200-250 non-slate votes. Those would not have made a difference. I got more high school votes. I got around 56% of the high school vote, and lost to someone who got about 44%.

I’m not challenging the election results. I knew what the rules were going in. Unity followed correct procedures in transforming the VPs from representing a division, to being “at large.” But I am challenging Unity’s moral compass. This is one of many seats they control. But because they might lose it in a fair election, they made the rules unfair so they can continue to control it.

If this were a borough-wide election, and the Bronx was going the “wrong way,” would Mulgrew try to change the rules to get Manhattanites to participate in Bronx elections? Because that’s kind of what he does when he has elementary teachers vote for the HS VP.

This is a naked power grab. They know the rules are anti-democratic. They know this is essentially the same garbage the republicans pull all over the country. It is an internal union equivalent of voter suppression. Taking what is not yours because you can and no one can stop you – no need to characterize that.

So yup, I got the most high school votes in the race for High School Vice President. But winning more votes is not enough. I do not hold that office.

Chapter Leader

This one neither.

I served on the consultation committee, as deputy chapter leader, and as delegate at Christopher Columbus HS in the Bronx. That was from 1997 – 2002. And then I transferred to a new school in September 2002. I became Chapter Leader. And I held that position, twenty full years, until today.

Twenty years, by the way, is a good chunk of time. I was the longest-serving high school chapter leader in the city. I have no idea who the new longest-serving hs chapter leader will be – but I’m willing to bet they have about half my years.

And Chapter Leadering is hard, without compensation. It’s just something those of us who do it, do.

I announced my resignation to my members two weeks ago. And it was going to be effective Thursday, but I made it at the end of the day today. Here’s the letter I typed (and yes, that is my lousy typing):

How Many?

So how many union offices do I hold today? Not Chapter Leader. Not HS VP.


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