What a campaign. Now that it's over (polls closed today) it's time to write about it. Despite the toxic ugliness that marked the opening rounds of the event, the election it was a bonafide wasterhsed event for both oppo and the ruling Unity caucus.
It won't wind up having a direct effect on regular classroom teachers across across this the city, but the way the UFT represents members, as well as the way opposition caucus reach out to work with members is going to be guided, in part, by the experiences and the lessons of this 2022 election. Unity will continue to improve and the oppo groups may well be able to work together (more on that in another post).
So here is how I think the vote count will go:
Majority of members This is a no brainer. Unity will win the election as a whole. This will mean that all of their VPs and "at-large" candidates will win. This margin will narrow from 2019 but will still send a clear message as to who the winner is. Oppo will cry that "margin of victory matters!". It doesn't. And it won't. Unity will continue to reach out to work with oppo anyway. And oppo will continue to work with Unity for almost every opportunity it has.
Retirees Unity. They lost a few votes because of the Medicare issue but not as many as folks think. Unity will win. These folks have whole careers behind them and fresh memories of events like the 1975 strike. They stuck with their union through layoffs, 0-0 raises under Giuliani and the Bloomberg attacks on teachers and on teaching. One little mis explanation of their medical benefits will not cost a majority of them to switch their vote. Unity wins retirees. Again, oppo will claim that margin of victory matters here. But those same groups won't do a thing to build relationships with groups of retirees. There will be strategy for organizing retirees because that's not the way oppo does things. So this vote will, literally, just be an indicator for how many retirees are pissed at Unity. Again, short term embarrassment for Unity but the oppo groups are not in any position to pose a long term threat to Unity's solid retiree base.
Majority of working teachers This was briefly up for grabs at the beginning of the campaign. It is, of course, a fairly distant improbability for the UFC now. Unity will win a majority of working teachers. Most will come from elementary and middle schools. But a larger margin than most folks think will come from the high school division.
Majority of non-teacher members Unity. That's all there is to it. This has always been a stronghold for Unity and will continue to be so .
Paras (because Paras deserve their own category, in this space). Unity. As long as the union takes care of its paras, the paras will take care of the Unity Caucus. Also, please continue to take care of our paras. Fewer of them will vote to for Unity, but look for them to vote Unity. Opposition leaders who are able to build relationships with para educators do so on a basis of world-view. It's nice for leftists to connect and work with other leftists. The moderates and conservatives have kept the left separate for far too long. But that's not what a majority of paras want andso the majority of paras will stick with Unity.
Elementary Schools There was once hope that this division could have been taken. Many elementary school teachers are conservative and moderate and, while more will vote with opposition this year, Unity will stay win a majority (although the margin will only be between 10-25 percentage points).
Middle Schools This may well wind up being the biggest disappointment of the campaign for the UFC. There was once real hope (and a whole strategy in place) for making sure they won middle schools. The odds of an opposition group winning middle schools had never been higher and, if it would have happened, it would have made history. The ultimate composition of the UFC (which require all groups to be in consensus with every major move the UFC made) sent this goal to the back burner. They were replaced by goals that were more related to the formation of the group and it's candidates. All sides needed to know they believed in the same issues. So those issue had to be addressed and resolved. The ads, though beautifully produced, didn't help attract new eyes and the campaign in general seemed to loose site of winning Middle Schools as a campaign priority. The results will speak for themselves and Unity will win (by between 5 and 20 percentage points). There will, though, be enough in the middle school vote so that both sides and claim a bit of victory. If the UFC can continue to organize in middle schools, they may be able to make progress.
High Schools Whenever there has been an organized opposition, the Unity caucus has lost the high school vote. This has been true for every single election I have heard. This year's election presented the classic scenario of Unity losing the high school vote again. They still may well loose it. But all of that changed when the city's biggest blogger and most famous teacher, Arthur Goldstein, decided to announce that he was running again with Unity. That changed again when Arthur put, in public, the reasons why (Unity gets stuff done. The opponents have a less than professional and less than healthy history where working with others is concerned. And more). When Unity lost in 2016, it was because Arthur's chapter, the biggest in his borough, urged members to vote for MORE. That chapter has not voted against the Unity Caucus since. I don't believe they will this time around, either. This is a person who has been this city's most vocal defender of teachers since 2005 (since many of them were, themselves, in school). The name and the blog both command too much respect for Arthur Goldstein's announcement to be dismissed.
And Arthur is not the exception. He's the rule. The Unity Caucus has been organizing in high schools all across the city over the past three years. Nobody has written about that. But it is the case. I think the UFC will win more votes than the last few elections. Of course. But I Unity surprise a few folks here. At the end of the day, Unity will capture more votes as well. And almost all of the new votes will be Unity. They have newer participating members in the borough of Queens and I don't think the UFC understands that just yet. That has to be factored in as well.
What also must be factored in is that this division goes with the weather. Sometimes, Unity wins more than 2500 votes (as in 2010) and sometimes, they get 1000 less (earning only in the range of 1500 in 2013). It does follow cycles but these cycles aren't very predictable. I correctly called a big Unity win last time. Were it not for Arthur, and for the organizing in Queens school in general (and in high school in particular), I would be calling. a big (big) UFC win this time. As it stands, Unity has turned high schools into a real fight -and I don't think the UFC is up to the task.
But still there is this golden rule: Whenever there has been an organized opposition, the Unity caucus has lost the high school vote. This is definitely too close for me to call. Whoever wins, high schools will be won by less than 500-750 votes. I do not know which group will win it. I guess why they count the ballots.