UFT Elections Frequently Asked Questions

MORE-NEW ACTION slate vote (1)


Why does the UFT have elections?

It’s in the UFT Constitution, Article IV, Section 2: “Nominations for officers shall be made triennially.”

Federal Labor Law requires union elections, LMRDA Title IV: “Every local labor organization shall elect its officers not less often than once every three years.” UFT is required to adhere to federal labor law.


Are these elections divisive and weakening our union?

No! elections bring many different perspectives to the table. There have been caucuses in the UFT since our founding.  Each caucus has different ideas for how to lead our union and each caucus deserves to have its voice heard. UFT elections are the chance for you to choose your leaders, which is the foundation of any good organization or government. We do not want to live in a country without elections, nor do we want a union leadership that is not democratically elected. UFT elections are healthy, because they allow for you to have a voice and a choice in who leads our union.


Why should I vote?

The UFT needs an active membership participation to advocate effectively for the educators, students, and families of New York City! Now more than ever we need to show that we’re ready to bring every member’s voice to the table to fight the well-funded attacks targeting public schools and communities. If you are happy with our union’s direction, then vote for Michael Mulgrew and his Unity Caucus. If you believe we need new leadership, vote for the MORE/New Action slate. Either way, we urge you to vote in order to keep our union strong.


What positions within the UFT are being voted on?

    • You will be voting for
      • 12 officers including President, VPs, and Treasurer  
      • 90 Executive Board seats
      • 750 delegates to the statewide and national unions with which we are affiliated (AFT and NYSUT)
    • Executive Board is one governing body of 90 seats, but seats within the executive board are voted on differently. Each division has a certain number of seats held for them, and only teachers in that division can vote for them
      • Elementary- 11 seats
      • Intermediate /Junior High School- 5 seats
      • High School- 7 seats
      • Functional- 19 seats for non-pedagogical licenses ie: paraprofessionals, secretaries, OT/PTs, school nurses, social workers, lab techs, school psychologists
      • 48 seats are At-Large, which means any UFT member active or retired may vote for these seats.

What is a caucus?

A caucus is a group of people with shared concerns within a larger organization, similar to a political party. There have been many caucuses in UFT’s history, but Unity caucus has been in uninterrupted control of our union since it began over 50 years ago. Currently, Unity caucus controls all of the elected posts within the UFT, with the exception of the 10 Executive Board seats held by New Action.


Is there proportional representation?

No, all 750 delegates to NYSUT and AFT conventions are sent by Unity caucus. They are bound by oath to vote as one bloc; in other words, all 750 Unity caucus delegates must vote as they are instructed to by the leadership of Unity. The only positions that an opposition caucus has won in the past elections are the Executive Board seats that are voted on by only teachers in that division (see above). Over twenty years ago, the ruling Unity caucus changed the UFT constitution so Vice-Presidents from each division (High School, Intermediate, Elementary, Functional) are voted for at-large(by every UFT member). This was because New Action caucus won high school executive board seats and the VP of High Schools. This year, even if MORE/New Action wins 49% of the entire vote, we will have zero delegates at our state and national convention.


Who is MORE?

The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) formed in 2012 by a diverse group of active UFT members working in all five boroughs, from kindergarten through 12th grade and adult education. Through their experiences as educators, activists, and advocates for our students, MORE members became frustrated by UFT President Mulgrew and his Unity Caucus allowing our collective strength to deteriorate. Our members come together because we know; “Our working conditions are our student’s learning conditions.” We believe in a educated, engaged,  and mobilized membership that will fight for the schools our members and children deserve. MORE is running in the 2016 UFT elections in coalition with New Action Caucus, so the ballot will say MORE/New Action.


How Do I Vote?

Ballots will be mailed to your home address on May 5th from the American Arbitration Association. You will need to fill out the ballot, place it in the enclosed pre-paid addressed, envelope, and place it in a mailbox.


What if I don’t get a ballot in the mail?

If you do not receive a ballot by mail or if your ballot is damaged or tampered with, immediately contact the American Arbitration Association at (800)778-7879. If you have moved you can notify UFT by going here: http://www.uft.org/know-your-rights/moving-notify-uft-your-change-address

Do I have to vote for an entire slate, or can I pick and choose from each slate?

A slate is a group of candidates that were nominated by a caucus to run for positions on the ballot. MORE is running with New Action on a joint slate. Michael Mulgrew and the current UFT leadership run as Unity. You can vote a “straight ticket/slate” by marking one of the boxes at the top of the ballot next to a slate name. You can also “split your ticket,” by marking boxes next to candidates of any slate. Most members vote for an entire slate by marking an X for one slate. Please keep in mind that if you try to vote for a slate and one or more individual candidates, your ballot will be invalidated.


Can UFT members place campaign materials in staff mailboxes in your school and other public schools?

Yes, You have the right to place union literature in the mailboxes within your school or within any other school, as long as you don’t do it while you are on duty. You can do it before or after school, or during your lunch period.


When going to other schools make sure to sign in with security (bring photo ID), go to the office where the mailboxes are, and introduce yourself to the secretary. Show the secretary, or any administrator who asks, the Department of Education memorandum which spells out your right to place election literature in the mailboxes.


Do not agree to leave the stack with the secretary, the UFT chapter leader, or anyone else. You have a right to put them directly in the mailboxes.


If someone at the schools forbids you from distributing contact Kit Wainer, our UFT Elections committee representative. Kit will contact the UFT and the UFT will instruct the Department of Education to tell the principal to let you in. You will then be allowed to return on another day


The right to distribute is based on the Baizerman decision, which is still in effect, formally establishing the right of UFT members to distribute union material, including caucus election materials, in mailboxes of NYC public schools on their own time.


Can UFT district representatives, officers, and staffers campaign or distribute Unity literature during their work hours or in UFT chapter or regional meetings?

No, not during work hours or in UFT meetings. Use of UFT “time” is considered a use of union resources and is forbidden by federal labor law (LMRDA).


Will the UFT, my Chapter Leader, Principal or anyone else know how I voted?

No, not unless you tell them.

When you send back your ballot, you will be placing it in two envelopes: first in an anonymous ballot envelope, and then in the prepaid mailing envelope. This second, outer envelope gets scanned upon delivery. This ensures that the ballot mailbox isn’t being stuffed. That envelope is then removed and stored in a separate location, leaving only your anonymous ballot. AAA will have a record of who sent in a ballot, but NOT how you voted.


How can I help MORE?

Great question, we thought you would never ask!

  1. Vote and let others in your chapter know that they need to vote too! Host a ballot breakfast, lunch, or after-school party in your school.
  2. Distribute our election literature in your chapter and share with your UFT friends.
  3. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, check our website, and share these links with everyone.
  4. Join MORE– for a small donation you can help keep our election campaign strong. We have to design and print fliers, rent space for meetings, and hold election related events- all which cost money.
  5. Sign up for our weekly email list here and text updates.
  6. Get involved, come to an event- check our listings here or email us to set up a happy hour or after-school meeting near you!
  7. Share this FAQ with your friends on text, email, and social media!

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