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Will Our UFT Ratification Votes for the Tentative Contract be Received or Counted?
A rushed ratification process along with botched mail return labels and confusing emails lead to serious questions about election integrity.
Serious questions are being raised by UFT chapter leaders and rank and file members about the rushed ratification process for the newly proposed tentative agreement between the UFT and the City.
In the last couple of weeks, an artificial urgent deadline for contract ratification has been propagated by UFT leadership. Mulgrew has inexplicably insisted that we need to vote in our schools before school is out for the summer.
Of course, there are other options to ensure a fair election. Mail-in ballots could have been sent to all members — which are presently used for this vote by various titles that are itinerant. Or even electronic voting would offer immediate vote delivery, safely and securely. The American Arbitration Association, AAA, the independent arbitration organization that handles our mass union votes, conducts mail-in, in-person and digital voting for other unions, as well. Moreover, DC 37 and PBA who recently underwent ratification votes gave members close to a month to read their respective MOAs before casting their mail-in ballots.
While in-person chapter voting is preferable to mail-in voting to many of us, as it ensures larger turnout in a union with historically low voter turnout in general elections, the rushed timeline, and subsequent missteps by UFT leadership in the process, has alarmed many.
Nick Bacon, co-chair of the New Action caucus and UFT executive board member, has written about the various election integrity issues that have arisen at his UFT caucus’ blog. It’s a worthwhile read. He sums up his piece regarding the voting process as follows:
The Voting Falls Apart
As our members are rushed through a ratification process, we have multiple problems occurring. (1) They are being given information that is inaccurate or misleading; (2) they are being threatened with 37.5 if the contract doesn’t go through; (3) they are being rushed to vote before they fully understand the details of the contract; and finally (4) the voting process itself is falling apart.
As Chapter Leaders already know, there were issues with the mailing envelopes that were sent out. UFT central responded by emailing out labels to print themselves (from where, UFT business from DOE printers?). There’s also confusion about who is voting from chapters and who has to wait to receive ballots in the mail. Then there’s the problem of UFT staffers telling many chapter leaders they must have the contract vote all on the same day. What happens to members who aren’t there that day, because, say, they’re attending their child’s graduation?
The bottom line is this: the process is falling apart, because it is being rushed. There’s language that needs to be changed. There are people who won’t be able to vote. And there are votes that were sent in that may be returned by the post office. This is a problem.
Mulgrew, our contract ratification process is in jeopardy. Given that UFT leadership knows this, what’s the rush?
UFT MailGate Worsens. More Return Label Problems.
Since the publishing of the Bacon piece, problems with ‘MailGate’ labels and the voting return process have worsened. These issues and a series of ‘quick fix’ emails speaking to resolving these problems have only served to infuriate, confuse and burden chapter leaders, especially those who have already conducted votes within the hastened vote window.
At least three emails from UFT central have been sent to all school chapter leaders who may have already conducted school chapter votes and attempted to drop off a mail package with ballots cast at the United States Postal Service.
Here are the emails:
MailGate Email 1
On Wednesday evening, June 21st, UFT central informed chapter leaders that the original postage paid labels they emailed are inoperative. The post office refuses to accept the return envelopes with these labels.
Apparently, according to one reliable source, the UFT mail department used a mail account that has been closed for three months. Chapter leaders are instructed to hold off the mailing if they hadn’t sent it out already and should wait for new labels to be sent out via email.
MailGate Email 2
The following day, Thursday, June 22nd, more label problems persist. During the day, chapter leaders were sent erroneous, dead online links to print new labels for their vote packages. A correction email with newer live links were sent out in the evening with the new labels for printing and instructions to cover the older, existing inoperative labels. Some chapter leaders voiced questions about ability to track the packages.
MailGate Email 3
On Friday, June 23rd, chapter leaders receive a third set of revised instructions to return chapter ballots. It seems that UFT central used new software to issue the new return labels that many post office locations are not prepared to process. The instructions to solve this new hurdle are that chapter leaders should find locations that have self-service kiosk at select USPS locations. The problem with this is that many post offices don’t have the self-service kiosks.
Big unanswered questions remain.
What happens to any ballot packages left at a post office drop box, or otherwise, with an inoperative label, or with a new label that the USPS location is unfamiliar with? Will these be delivered in time by the June 27th school chapter deadline? Will all our votes be counted?
Many chapter leaders have voiced angst and frustration over ‘MailGate’. In one large Facebook group, some chapter leaders shared that they are now left with no choice but to hand deliver their packages in person to the AAA office in Manhattan. There is also anecdotal evidence of the above possible scenario. According to one member who posed this question to a borough rep, a postal clerk showed the member a package of votes from another school that was left at the post office with a label that at this moment is undeliverable.
How many more packages with chapter ballots may be sitting in a post office that will now likely be returned to the sender in the coming week or so?
We demand answers. One uncounted vote is UNACCEPTABLE.
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