Union democracy is a part of UFT Solidarity’s guiding principles and on our platforms for both the 2016 and 2019 elections.
Having a democratic union ensures all members proper and fair representation and transparency.
Having a democratic union ensures that all members have a voice and a place in the union.
Having a democratic union ensures that members won’t become apathetic, alienated, and detached from our union.
A democratic union should seek to make elections more inclusive, rather than create policy that leads to more exclusive practices.
UFT Solidarity’s innovative and “inclusive” petition strategy
UFT Solidarity has built a large base that is growing and spread across all boroughs. There are no rules set in place that dictate how signatures can be obtained, whether they need to be in pen only, nor the size or color of the paper. It is all about endorsement and the membership committee being able to validate the member making the endorsement.
UFT Solidarity wants every UFT member to have a voice. From the secretary in the Bronx to retired teachers across the country. A retired UFT member in Poland even endorsed us using our online petitions. Many schools, such as Staten Island Tech, IS 61 and many others thought it would be OK to obtain signatures, scan all pages and then email it to us. We thought it should be OK, because the reality is “Why wouldn’t that be accepted?” We checked with the US Department of Labor, that has jurisdiction over union elections, and they agreed so long as it does not violate any union constitution, bylaw, or written election procedure. It does not violate anything.
Unity, MORE and New Action caucuses of the United Federation of Teachers decided that hundreds of UFT members’ signatures and endorsements do not count and therefore their voices do not count either. During an election committee meeting held on February 28, 2019, all committee members not in UFT Solidarity caucus voted to unilaterally ban all petitions that were scanned and sent, or faxed, and ban all online petitions. The point of having petitions is to have eligible UFT members endorse eligible candidates.
The federal rules regarding union elections, with respect to nominations for candidates, state that the opportunity to nominate should be as inclusive as possible. In other words, try and make it so as many members as possible can participate.
If you are familiar with UFT politics and then you know that the Unity caucus runs, and has run, the UFT for 50+ years. They stack the election committee with their members and allow only one member from the other caucuses. You wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they started making up their own rules that do not align with the UFT constitution nor UFT election committee notice. However, some of you may be surprised to find that right in line with them is Michael Shulman of New Action and Bill Linville of MORE. They, too, slapped democracy, and hundreds of UFT members in the face, yesterday when they voted to invalidate all petitions that were scanned and emailed to us, signed online and or faxed.
Their actions thus eliminated all of our elementary school Executive Board candidates, two high school Executive Board candidates, and five At Large Executive Board candidates. As a result of this, strong and smart active and retired UFT members cannot run with us as candidates and fight for change. As one of our High School candidates told UFT Presidential Candidate Lydia Howrilka: “I have never felt so honored in my life when you asked me to run with Solidarity. There is no other caucus I would rather run with.”
The fight for union democracy continues. Many of your voices were silenced and UFT Solidarity will continue to raise this critical issue with the proper authorities.