With the alliances among the differing opposition groups within the UFT breaking apart, it has been difficult to gauge how the upcoming UFT elections will look. But, as we end the Fall and look to winter, the landscape for those elections is finally beginning to take shape.
And what a shape it is taking! This year is a free for all. We may well have as many as four separate groups, and two very large elephants in the room, fielding candidates to run. Below is a run-down of what groups will probably be running, as well as a bit of background on each and a mention for the two elephants in the room!:
The Unity Caucus is in power and has been since the union's inception. They are the largest caucus and will, no doubt, win all of the big city-wide seats offered.
It looks as though the New Action Caucus will be running on their own this year. NAC is currently the second oldest of the UFT caucuses. They have held seats on the UFT's Executive Board for well over a decade and have done so by aligning themselves with other groups by way of joint slate tickets. The last election saw them forming a joint slate tickets with the MORE caucus, where they were re elected to Executive Board Seats for High Schools. This time around, they'll be running on their own.
The MORE Caucus recently announced they were "contesting" the election. This means either that they're running or are objecting to the outcome of the election before it's even held. With MORE, you never really know. Since their win of 7 high school Executive Board seats in 2014, that caucus has drifted far to the left and has seemed to have turned alienating union allies into an art form. They have been accused of purposely alienating or pushing out anyone who wasn't "left" enough for them. As you can imagine, this leaves a very small group and many of those they refuse to work with were the work horses of that organization. They say they're running, but don't be surprised if they cannot find enough signatures to petition the UFT to allow them to run at all. Frankly, I hear their 'once great' chapter leaders can no longer bring any more than 10 or 12 people to chapter meeting and I doubt their viability to even get on a ticket and form a slate at all. They're a shell of their former selves. I give them a 50-50 chance for even being able to run.
The Solidarity Caucus will be running! Formed in 2014 after a falling out with MORE, Francesco Portelos and his caucus will be, in fact, running this year. Last election, Solidarity did have enough signatures to run for election, but did not have enough candidates to run a full slate. With MORE ruining its reputation and NAC coming into the game on its own two feet, I think this year will be different and Solidarity will have a full slate of candidates and the required amount of signatures for each. Solidarity will be running.
Besides those four caucuses, there are two very large and venerable elephants in the room: Arthur Goldstein and Mike Schirtzer. Both are former members of MORE (who am I kidding, the entire opposition are former members of allies of MORE!) and have repeatedly said that they will not run with just anyone. Arthur is rightly given credit for MORE's high school victory last election and Mike is well known as an organizer's organizer. Both are award winning union members and have helped accomplished real lasting change since coming to the Executive Board after the 2014 elections. You can't say that about many members of the Executive Board. Neither of them care much for ideology or for intra-caucus politics and they both seem just fine sitting it out. But they could also snap their fingers and form their own caucus within a matter of weeks. That is not an exaggeration. That could in theory, alter the landscape once more before the elections come next Spring. Not so much horses to watch as they are the elephants in the room that every group must pay careful attention to, Arthur and Mike are the game changers. As I said, you can't say that about very many individual members of the UFT, but you can about these two.
And that is the free for all that will be the 2019 UFT elections! Four -four- caucuses running next year and two game changing unionists who are currently unaffiliated. (I would like to form a caucus and call it the DOEnuts slate and make it an even five. I'll run the first person who drops a comment as candidate for president!).