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UFT High School Reps on Executive Board ask AAA to Verify School Contract Vote Counts After Mailing Label Debacle
They ask for the simplest way of allowing UFT members to check that their votes were counted and not lost in the mail.
High School representatives to the UFT executive board, who ran on the United For Change slate, worried that ballots in the union's contract ratification vote might not make it to the American Arbitration Association, AAA, because of the mailing label debacle, requested the AAA publish the number of ballots received from each school.
This is the simplest way of allowing UFT members to check that their votes were counted and not lost in the mail.
However, the AAA has deferred to UFT officials on this request, who have in turn stated they refuse to respond in advance of the vote count.
Here is their letter of request to the AAA:
June 27, 2023
To: Hiro Kawahara
AAA Director of Elections, 120 Broadway 21st Fl, New York, NY, 10271
Cc: Ken Egger, AAA National Vice President of Elections
Michael Mulgrew, President, United Federation of Teachers
Melinda Person, New York State United Teachers President,
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers President,
You are no doubt aware of the challenges in the UFT contract ratification process regarding delays in ballots arriving at schools and challenges with return mailing labels for ballot packets.
Many chapters did not receive ballots until Thursday or Friday June 22nd or 23rd, resulting in rushed balloting on the last two days of school on the 26th and 27th and potentially affecting turnout.
Even more worrisome, the mailing labels sent out for the return of ballots from schools had to be corrected and re-sent three times, in successive emails on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, June 21st-23rd. The last email informed chapter leaders that some post office personnel were not accepting the new return labels and they instead had to be sent via a self-service kiosk (which is not available at all post office locations). We have received reports that this has resulted in difficulty in chapter leaders returning their ballot packets, and may have resulted in some packets not being received at all by AAA.
The integrity of the contract ratification process is of utmost importance to our members as it will determine the working conditions in schools and learning conditions for a million New York City school children for the next four years.
We would like to request that the AAA record and publish the number of ballots returned from each school chapter in each category (teacher, paraprofessional, secretary, guidance counselor, lab specialist). This would allow chapter leaders who mailed their ballots with the faulty labels to determine if their ballots actually arrived at the count, allowing the union to understand the scope and scale of the lost vote.
We hope that the actual impact on the vote of these problems will be minimal, but transparent and public accountability will be key in retaining the trust and confidence of our members in this process.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this request. Please feel free to contact us at the email addresses listed above.
Ronnie Almonte, Nick Bacon, Ed Calamia, Alex Jallot, Ibeth Mejia, Ilona Nanay, Luli Rodriguez
High School Representatives to the United Federation of Teachers Executive Board
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