The announcement on May 27, 2016 that Jia Lee, New Action/MORE presidential candidate won 21% of the citywide vote was a terrific victory, especially since this was her first run for the position. Michael Mulgrew won with a total of 76%. While a solid victory for Unity Caucus it is interesting to note that in the last UFT election (2013) he received 84% and in 2010 his vote totaled 91%.
Clearly, the fact that Mulgrew was not cross endorsed by New Action, as he was in 2013 and 2010 was a big factor in his decreased vote as President. The total vote for Mulgrew was 39,175 and for Jia it was 10,743
Our major goal in this election was to win the high school division. We did!
Several significant factors characterized this election:
- New Action/MORE won all seven high school seats by 2,292 to 2,077. Our candidates: Kuljit Ahluwalia, David Garcia-Rosen, Arthur Goldstein, Ashraya Gupta, Jonathan Halabi, Marcus McArthur, Michael Schirtzer will meet as they begin to serve as executive board members. This victory continues the legacy of New Action’s role in the high schools, Beginning in the mid 1980’s, New Action dominated the high school division. After 1985 when Michael Shulman won the Academic HS Vice Presidency, New Action has either won or played the determining role in high school elections. Only after Unity Caucus rammed through UFT constitutional changes did Unity win the HS Vice Presidency. Divisions no longer elect their VP’s – instead all officers are elected by the membership at large, thus guaranteeing no division can elect their own representative.
- This election cycle, it was New Action/MORE that won the high schools. It could not have been done if the caucuses ran separately. The combined strength of New Action and MORE not only secured the high schools but increased our vote totals in all divisions. For the two caucuses, this was the first attempt to turn the direction of the union around. Our major joint campaign literature- featuring Jia Lee and the New Action/MORE program- was distributed to 60,000 UFT members. In addition, New Action and MORE put out tens of thousands of additional pieces of election material to the schools. In future elections, an increased focus on the intermediate and middle schools may turn that division to New Action and MORE.
- Literally, hundreds of Chapter Leaders agreed to distribute New Action/MORE literature in their schools. We were very successful in having our members and supporters in the schools get out literature not only in their own schools but to surrounding schools. New Action played a major role in having our retiree members distribute in over 300 schools.
- The total vote went up considerably from the previous election. In 2013 only 18% of in-service members voted. The three caucuses—New Action, MORE, and Unity made a larger vote turnout a priority. This was also accomplished. In 2013 the total vote was approximately 42,000. This election the number was 52,000.
New Action and MORE have a real challenge going forward. The UFT led by Unity Caucus has ignored so many issues facing our members. We have an obligation to put forward our program on behalf of the entire membership. Our election commitment was to activate and mobilize UFT members for a better contract in 2018. Immediately, we have to protect members and Chapter Leaders from abusive administrators. We are committed to opposing the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers. We must demand the permanent placement of ATR’s and putting a stop to the practice of arbitrary and capricious discontinuance of probationary members. We will continue to support the Opt-Out movement. We must fight for real union democracy. We do not have any confidence that Unity Caucus has these issues as their priority. Most importantly, we must foster membership involvement at the school level. UFT members must know and feel their union has “their backs.”