Do delegates on phones deserve rights? – Notes on the June, 2022 UFT Delegate Assembly

At the June 8th DA (2022), Unity made clear their intent to disenfranchise non-Unity voters in perpetuity. Let’s look at the tactics, skipping over the long President’s report and his not calling on UFC for a moment.

  1. Wasting time during the New Resolutions Period. We only get 10 minutes to raise new motions and haven’t been called on since November, so why all-of-a-sudden is so much time being wasted on reordering the agenda during this period? Why is it that the people being called on to do the reordering are often members of Adcom and the Executive Board – the very people who supposedly set the agenda in the first place BEFORE the DA? As an aside, mark my words – if UFC ever gets another resolution on the agenda (not holding my breath), Unity will use the ‘reordering’ technique to make sure that resolution never sees the light of day.
  2. Pretending UFC Doesn’t Exist. Near the end of the new motions period, Mulgrew asked ‘any more business anyone wants to raise?’ with the implication that no one was raising their hand. I was raising my hand to introduce a critical resolution compelling the UFT to fight to suspend APPR this year. But he pretended I wasn’t there, and waited for another delegate to raise their hand to introduce a motion that was less critical. It was clear that when he said ‘anyone’ he meant that delegate, not anyone else. Mulgrew was a like a Drama Teacher telling a student performer their line.
  3. Only calling on Unity higher-ups during debate periods. Matt Driscoll of MORE raised an important amendment to the Hybrid DA Resolution. This amendment would have given full rights to introduce resolutions or amendments over the phone. Only I was called on to speak in favor of that reso, despite many people having their hands up or putting themselves in line to talk on the phone. Instead, a slew of Adcom members and Executive Board members. many of whom work for the UFT full time, were called on to make sure the debate seemed to be in their favor.
  4. Prematurely calling the question: After that slew of adcom members was called on, but only 1 UFC member, for the second time in a row, a Unity member has called the question to a contentious amendment before UFC people really had time to speak on it. (Last month it was for our decorum resolution amendment). This ensures that people who are voting don’t hear the UFC arguments.
  5. Blatantly disenfranchising phone voters (who tend to vote with UFC). I was the only UFC member called on to speak in favor of the amendment to give full rights to people on the phone. I argued that (1) The majority of delegates participate over the phone now and many can’t be here because of childcare or other responsibilities – they should have a right to offer resolutions or amendments; (2) People over the phone have called to offer amendments in the past and have been told no, which has affected the end form of passed resolutions. (3) The vote counts are often very different over the phone than in person, meaning we are disenfranchising people who tend to vote one way, but not the other. (Mulgrew scolded me for bringing politics into it on that one). In addition to me, 5 or 6 Unity people spoke against us, and convinced just enough people–literally 4 votes–that it would be a bad idea to give rights to people over the phone. Their main argument, I think given primarily by Mike Sill, was that we can’t trust that people over the phone are actually UFT members, a bizarre argument given that we’ve been voting primarily over the phone for the last several years, and during the height of COVID introduced resolutions/amendments that way as well. We were prepared to speak on this, but were never called on to do so (I would have spoken on it myself, but that argument hadn’t yet been made by Unity at the time that I spoke). Nevertheless, 2/3 of the phone vote was in favor of the amendment. That means that we lost the vote because of voters in the room. Voters in the room are overwhelmingly Unity, and many if not most are paid staffers with voting privileges. In other words, it was primarily the people we pay to represent us, who voted to disenfranchise the majority of us from participating in the union’s democratic process.
  6. Signaling that phone votes don’t matter. When Mulgrew looked on in horror to see that the phone amendment would have passed if not for 4 votes against, he indicated that if it had passed ‘he would have had to verify that people over the phone are really UFT members.’ Something tells me that they’d use not being able to get ahold of someone, who say, screens their calls, or turns off their phone during dinner, to overturn votes in the future. That should worry us.

As usual, I left the Delegate Assembly feeling disenfranchised. But, UFC is holding strong. The opposition is here to stay.

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