When MORE members reached out to the union leadership about observing the count of the contract ratification ballots, Leroy Barr the UFT assistant secretary and chair of Unity Caucus (the caucus of Michael Mulgrew), offered one observer per caucus of the UFT contract vote.
You should not have to be in a caucus to observe the count. We demanded the vote be open to all UFT members. Members of MORE are not special, we are all UFT. Although the Unity and New Action caucuses both support Michael Mulgrew we see no reason why they should receive special treatment either. MORE refused to send a special representative. Anyone who attends from MORE does so a a UFT member, not a caucus member, Every UFT member must be allowed to observe this critical vote.
In response to our efforts, the UFT leadership has offered to allow as many members who wish to observe the count. See the details below. We hope that they will advertise this information at UFT.org and in their weekly email to chapter leaders, as we requested.
(Please note, that there are no special provisions for non-attendance days for this. So make sure to carefully follow procedures to request a personal day from your supervisor – if you call in sick when you are not sick you risk very serious disciplinary action).
If you are planning to observe, please let us know by emailing MORE@morecaucusnyc.org.
The following is a letter sent to Leroy Barr from MORE on Tuesday, May 27th, followed by Leroy’s response
Thank you for your call on Friday. You offered to allow one observer from each caucus to the contract proposal ratification vote.
I have discussed the matter with the MORE members and we feel that this is not an acceptable proposal. Many rank and filers are interested in the outcome of the contract proposal ratification, both pro and con, far beyond the active membership of any of the caucuses. In 2005 the ratification was open to rank and file members beyond caucus representatives.
Making this vote less transparent only can hurt our union by creating suspicion of the process. We should welcome the participation of rank and file members who are not involved in union politics. Don’t we want to be as democratic as possible about this? This vote is a once-in-a-decade decision that will have a major impact on educators’ lives.
We propose that the ratification be open to any member who is available and RSVPs, and that this openness be advertised on the UFT website and in the Weekly Chapter leader update.
Thank you and Solidarity.
Response (Thursday, May 29th)
As stated to you earlier, the AAA has limited space but you can invite as many people as you want. The observation room hold a maximum of 15 people. They will have to rotate in and out at 10 minute intervals if the room is overcrowded.
Their address is 120 Broadway and they are located in room 1B. The balloting process will take place on Monday June 2nd and Tuesday June 3rd between 10am and 5pm. They are only opening the outer envelopes on the first day to confirm that the ballots received are from eligible members. On day 2 they will actually count the ballots.
I look forward to seeing you there.
LeRoy Barr, Director of Staff, Assistant Secretary, United Federation of Teachers