Monday, April 19, 2021

UFT Special Delegate Assembly April 19, 2021--UFT Endorses Scott Stringer for NYC Mayor

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--Thanks us for participating in mayoral endorsement question. Apologizes for short notice, was working through weekend. Will be resolution to endorse Scott Stringer.

Pays homage to members who gave hours of personal time to vet candidates, do interviews, look at campaigns. Over 440 volunteers, we owe them a debt. Not just about popularity. Who is best suited for needs of union and can win race? Over 50 endorsements at this point, and process was used every time. Thanks political action people. 

Everyone has an opinion. All candidates say they're here for us, but in the end much of that is just words. Political committees were open to all, and thanks to 440 who did the work, 12K who participated in forums. 

Eight years ago, no candidates looked like potential UFT enemies. We don't see that this time. UFT was only union to hold five separate town halls, to cover so many topics. Some have better policies, but less viability, while some have worse policies but better viability. Volunteers analyzed and decided. Members front and center in entire process. We have more after this. 

We are working under rules of COVID. Would like to suspend rule limiting discussion for five comments for this DA. Should allow more people to speak and let body decide when to close. 

LeRoy Barr--Motion has been sent out and I would like to make the motion. 

Mulgrew--Automatically considered second. Motion is debatable. Requires two thirds.

Dina--Don't think we should limit it to five, based on number of candidates and ongoing debates. People would like to weigh in. Should allow more to express thoughts.

Anthony Zelax--Thinks we should allow more than five.

Alison Davis--Asks that limit be suspended. 

91% yes. Passes.

Mulgrew--We've collected candidate comments, plans, and monitored whether their predictions are realized. Will be PACs involved, more money than ever involved. Groups had tried to infiltrate unions for own political agendas. Therefore we went through everything people said and did and what did and did not come true. We look at education, social justice, city post pandemic, consulted with our political team and looked at what is in best interest of union and school system. We protect the school system. We also look at health care interests. Many of our members care for people and we need to know what our city and health care system will look like.

We need people with policy and viability. Hard to find together. Mayor has to try and work with us and we are a big part of this. Last Friday, met with volunteers and discussed process. Will let them speak. Anyone could have volunteered and took part. Our system needs to remain and be built upon. 

There was no consensus in beginning, but they wanted to explain how they came to it. We have a long standing relationship with Scott Stringer. Our volunteers felt very strongly we needed to move with him. It was clear that this union and those involved with this process decided he was tried and true, tested, and that we should endorse him. 

Press will make story about candidates. Story for us is about changing things for the better, and having thousands of us looking at race. Very proud of union for taking up this challenge amidst pandemic and getting it done.

Julio Gomez--Rises to motivate and support Stringer. Ed. policy, always in corner of public schools, unions, supported us with retro, demanded anti-covid safeguards, has run races starting way down in the polls. Has ability to raise money, to lead, record of delivering for us. Saw first hand how collaborative and fair endorsement process was. Strongly recommends support. 

Katie Moylan--Since January been involved in screening process. Saw hard work and strategic planning that went into endorsements. Didn't agree with everything at first. Objections were welcomed and answered, Learned a great deal. Endorsement not about me, but about candidates supporting us. Am surveying colleagues, as modeled by UFT. Final four chosen based on feedback of campaign events. Can't please everyone. Some candidates didn't do homework and proposed untenable policies. There are also exceptional candidates. Decision was very tough. We're backing someone who will have our back and who has supported us. Proud to join other labor leaders and communities to support Stringer.

Ellen Wein--Was also included in panel at mayoral town hall. Asked questions directly of candidates. Our union had reps from all boroughs, not just teachers or CLs. We listened to all voices. Spoke with members at my school about which candidates we should and should not support. Supports Stringer, who has track record with us, sends own kids to public schools. Has watched kids use online and remote learning. Opposes charters. Would recruit and retain teachers via smaller classes and adding positions. 

Seung Lee--speaks in favor (I am in queue and miss much). Data supports him. Overwhelmingly best choice for this union. You're here to rep members. I want to rep all of us, and this is about endorsing, By many metrics, our endorsement will help members and the city.

Nicole Puglia--In favor. Been on SI political team, was panelist at town halls. Were relevant and fair. Listened carefully, Many didn't understand accountability. Only Stringer spoke of reopening in September. Yang didn't even look at plan. Obvious Stringer has plans for upcoming obstacles. 

Ilana--Move to suspend rules and amend resolution.

Mulgrew--Out of order

Ilana--Opposes. While we have heard how democratic process was, appalled Diana Morales, former teacher was not considered. We should've used rank choice voting.

Rafael Tompkin--Rises in support. Scott Stringer has proven record, legislatively and as partner to union. We have a choice to endorse or not to endorse. With all due respect, there is no third option. Stringer most viable, has shown over again in our process, is going to truly be our ally, One of only candidates with plan. 

Andrea Polite--Even though I'm happy to contribute to COPE, I didn't have time to volunteer. Thanks members who did. In favor of Scott Stringer being our candidate. Members of committee gave hard hitting follow up questions, pushed them on non-ed issues as well. Only candidate at final debate who did HW were Adams, Wiley and Stringer. Very disrespectful of candidate to say didn't do HW. Glad to say that Stringer understood our five point plan, stood with us and will stand with us again. 

Phillip ?--Against resolution. Heard it said it's important to make reso--also important to include all members. 12K only 6% of membership. Urges no vote. 

Mulgrew relinquishes chair to LeRoy Barr.

Mavis Yan--Rises in support. Was part of one forum, and final four. Hears criticism, but this is first time union did what it did. We weeded out skeletons, put people to test, had 40 page questionnaire. Not only about who we like, but also about who can win, No union has open and transparent process as ours. Stringer has a steady hand, and comptroller experience will help him know what to do with money. Public school parent who supports teachers. Others support us to our face, but back away in public. He gets it, respects it. Only one who said he'd have asked teachers about reopening. He respects us and our profession. This is the easy part, Real work is getting out there and getting him elected.

Michael Mulgrew--Supports. Recognizes we are all elected leaders. Everyone on this call reps colleagues. Endorsement must be in best interest of union and profession. That's what we do today. Thanks volunteers. Has to be about all coming together to build consensus. They came to this conclusion. We know this candidate will do the work, has told us the truth. Committee decided. Stringer was elected to Assembly in 1990s in Washington Heights. Very good to us, always public schools. Supported us and children. At same time, Eva Moskowitz got very popular, held hearings attacking UFT. Took contract out of context. Parts of city loved her. I went as CL, and testified, as she made herself popular and viable.

Shortly after, she ran for borough president of Manhattan. Was way out ahead, pushing charter schools. Looked like a sure thing. Then, Stringer came to UFT and said, "I want to be your candidate, Can't allow this to happen to my borough.' People laughed, was behind in polls. But he won. 

He could've not ruffled feathers, but picked Patrick Sullivan for PEP. Sullivan constantly spoke truth to power. Stringer paid a political price. 

Eight years ago, didn't want to run for mayor. Eliot Spitzer decided to run against him, with big name recognition and money. Stringer said no, after his history, and he won that race. As comptroller, he divested from fossil fuels, Spoke against mayor and for us when mayor wouldn't work with us. 

Process was completely open. He does his job, does it well, and when people say he can't do it, he does it. 

Full support.

Marcus Harrison--calls question.

85% yes. Question is before body. 

Barr--Question whether to endorse is before body.  

90% yes. Carries. 

Chair back to Mulgrew.

Mulgrew--Thanks us for taking this time. Now hard work starts. This race is a tough one. Hopefully we will get our candidate where he needs to be, which is in city hall. When we make our candidate the mayor, we will have a partner to help us, our families, and the children we've dedicated our lives to. 

God bless, be well, and be safe.

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