What could a grassroots UFT election campaign look like?

The electoral sweep by opposition forces in the paraprofessional and retiree chapters are nothing less than an electoral earthquake in UFT politics. By winning close to 2/3rds of the votes in these former bastions of Mulgrew’s UNITY caucus, the union activists in Fix Para Pay and Retiree Advocate slates have proven that it’s possible to electorally defeat UNITY’s 60 year control of the UFT. 

If the 2022 United for Change slate had received the same margin amongst retirees as in this years chapter election, we would have won by 51%

The retiree activists also have provided some new innovative and inspirational tactics and strategies we need to apply to our general union elections next year. Combined with the lessons learned from MORE’s participation in the 2022 campaign, they provide guideposts to building a grassroots UFT campaign that could not only change the union leadership, but also strengthen rank and file organizing at the base in a way that will ensure that the union's transformation is deep and lasting. 

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Fighting for the New York Health Act: An interview with MORE's Health Justice Working Group

From fewer doctors in network to higher co-pays, every UFT member knows our healthcare, like that of most people in the US, has gotten worse over the years.  This is because the American healthcare system is not designed to keep working people healthy—it’s designed to enrich insurance companies, big hospital chains, and the pharmaceutical giants.  

The New York Health Act (NYHA) would cover all New Yorkers under one medicare-style program, eliminating the private insurance companies entirely.  And it would force hospitals and pharmaceutical companies to charge reasonable rates.

The UFT’s Delegate Assembly, the union’s highest decision making body, has endorsed the New York Health Act twice: in 2015 and 2017.  But instead of fighting to improve healthcare for all New Yorkers, the UFT leadership has spent the last decade cutting deals with the city that save the city money but makes our healthcare worse.  Retirees have fought back against attacks on their healthcare.  It’s time for in-service members to do the same.  Ultimately, we need our union to fight, not just to keep the healthcare we have, but to improve it by enacting the NYHA.  

Strikehot sat down with five activists from MORE’s Health Justice Working Group—Martina M., Kate C., Ilona N., Meg J., Ali H.—to talk about how they are building a campaign to win the UFT over to NYHA.

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The Movement of Rank and File Educators and the Case for an Inside/Outside Strategy to Build a Progressive Big Tent Within the UFT

As we come out of both our biannual MORE State of Our Union event and the recent Labor Notes conference, I wanted to write down some of my thoughts about our union and our caucus in the current moment. I have been wanting to write something longer like this for a while, so I really appreciate anyone who takes the time to read it. I hope this helps continue discussions about our work together in the upcoming months and years. I sincerely believe in our collective vision of building the UFT into a strong, militant, and democratic class struggle and social justice union. This is not only possible, but necessary if we want to create real social, economic, and racial justice in our city, state, and country. Furthermore, I believe that UFT activists in MORE and many of the structures we have created together are crucial parts of making this a reality.

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Top-down, scripted curriculum mandates are a disaster for our schools

This is the first of a multi-part series of articles focusing on corporate canned curriculum mandates from NYCDOE leadership. 

Mayor Adams’ and Chancellor Banks’ effort to overhaul the NYC curriculum in reading, math, and early childhood education is being rolled out in an aggressive, top-down manner. The current NYCDOE leadership has pushed prepackaged, scripted curricula across all grades and is rolling this effort out in phases across multiple districts each year. In this series, we share concerns about the lack of cultural responsiveness (also highlighted in a recent report from NYU) in these curricula, the lack of credible research to support their effectiveness, and the ways we can organize and push back on these top-down mandates.

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MORE Members of Executive Board Reflect

Three members of MORE have been on the UFT Executive Board since 2022: Ronnie Almonte, Alex Jallot, and Ilona Nanay. StrikeHot sat down with the three of them and discussed what they have learned so far and strategy going forward. 

StrikeHot: What motivated you to run for the Executive Board  and what did you hope to accomplish in your term on the board? 

Alex: The bigger picture is to hopefully enact some sort of change in our union and to pass some resolutions that would benefit the rank and file and push our leadership to do the right things. The way that our union leadership runs right now is frustrating. It's very much top down. But I also wanted to see what the inner workings of our union were like. So being on the board for the past year has definitely opened my eyes to how leadership operates and what their motivations are.

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Reflecting on the last UFT Chapter-Leader Election Campaign

by Kit Wainer

[These notes reflect my personal reflections on MORE’s efforts to run a series of chapter leader election campaigns in spring 2021. I should note that I left NYC to pursue a PhD in the summer of 2022 so I know little about what has happened in the caucus since then].

For those considering running in the current Chapter Leader or Delegate elections this spring, please join MORE at our next election training on Thursday 2/15 at 7pm (bit.ly/chpt-workshop).

Dramatic membership growth

MORE’s growth from roughly 100 dues-paying members just prior to the pandemic to more than 700 by August 2020 inspired many of us in the caucus leadership to try to capitalize on the momentum by deepening and expanding our influence within individual union chapters. At that point, what percentage of the membership was “real” and not just on paper was very difficult to measure. The 3-4 meetings we held over the summer of 2020 drew more than 200 people each. The late August meeting—held at the moment the UFT leadership was wielding a phony strike threat over school safety—drew more than 1,000. But since all caucus work was remote and remote politics was still something new, it was difficult to know how many were showing up only once, or how many showed up for general meetings but never participated in anything else.

 

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"We pushed the UFT to actually fight" - Interview with Negotiating Committee Member Olivia Swisher

The following interview was conducted with Olivia Swisher, art teacher and Chapter Leader at MS 821 in Sunset Park, about her experiences on the UFT Negotiating Committee for the most recent 2022-2027 contract.

 

Strike Hot: What were your goals and hopes in volunteering for the negotiating committee? How did the experience differ from your expectations?

 

Olivia Swisher: My personal goal for participating in the UFT negotiating committee was to learn about the negotiations process firsthand.

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