Thursday, April 05, 2007

Election results reflect UFT crisis

Some interesting information in this article from Socialist Worker Online (I'm NOT making this up!).  It turns out that fewer than 25% of the local UFT bothered to vote in the last union election -- so beware of claims by Randi Weingarten that she's speaking for 160,000 members!  It's also sobering to note (I hope you're sitting down) that Randi is among the most PROGRESSIVE union leaders.  In this article, she's being attacked by more militant union members who are angry for, among other things, agreeing to a longer work day (all of TEN MINUTES! -- you can't make this stuff up!).  Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, from Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone: "I know of no organization failing as badly as our public schools in which everyone goes home at 3pm every day!"

Election results reflect UFT crisis

By Megan Behrent, UFT | April 6, 2007 | Page 14

NEW YORK--Elections in the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) ended with the re-election of the current president, Randi Weingarten, and her Unity caucus retained a strong majority.

Nonetheless, modest gains were made by Independent Community of Educators-Teachers for a Just Contract (ICE-TJC), the opposition caucuses in the UFT which formed a coalition to challenge the incumbents. The vote for the opposition, amid a record-low voter turnout, reflects increasing anger and disillusionment with the current leadership and direction of the UFT.

The total number of people voting was much lower than three years ago (which was already low, with only about 30 percent of the active membership voting). Thus, while over 160,000 ballots were sent out, only about 45,000 were returned. Of these, 22,000 were from retirees, which means that less than a quarter of the active membership of the union voted in this election.

This low turnout in part reflects the complete disillusionment with the union leadership and the UFT leadership’s failure to publicize the vote. Furthermore, the American Arbitration Association sent out faulty ballots that, while eventually corrected, created a great deal of confusion.

ICE-TJC ran a joint campaign, opposing givebacks in recent contracts that have led to a longer workday, longer work year and eroding rights in the workplace. The opposition argued instead for a strategy of militant rank-and-file organizing in the union.

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