Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Contract Vote Prediction: 55% 45% (Sunday Morning Banter)

Ala fivethrityeight

I'm hearing "Landslide!" "80-20!" "We'll be lucky if get 30% of working teachers to vote against this!" and, oh yeah "Heck yeah, I'm taking the marshmallow!". But the truth is that the contract vote is set against a few facts that really shouldn't be ignored.

Fact: 35 percent of all working teachers who voted in last year's election chose to vote against Mr. Mulgrew's caucus. Here are the working teachers results from last year's election.*

Unity 65.7%     MORE 24.7%

Fact: Almost 30 percent of all working UFT members (school secretaries, paras and others, as well as working teachers) voted against Mr. Mulgrew's caucus as well.*

Unity 69.2%    MORE 20.8%

I think it's safe to say that a vote against Mr. Mulgrew's caucus is a vote against Mr. Mulgrew and will be a vote against Mr. Mulgrew's contract. 

(It is also safe to say that Mulgrew is least popular among working teachers. Because he is most popular among retirees (and they are allowed to vote in the election), the final margin was more like 80-20.)

80-20 was also the final margin of victory in the 2007 UFT election. That election was closer to 70-30 among working teachers (here but do the math yourself).  Two year earlier, during the 2005 contract vote, the margin of victory was roughly 60-40 (thanks media guy from MORE for helping me with that) . That contract called for 4% a year raises, ten more minutes at work each day and major givebacks in terms of union protections (including seniority rights in school assignments which created our current ATR crisis). Suffice to say, that , like this one, there were some blaring disappointments in that contract. Perhaps this is why the vote for the contract was 10 points lower than the working teachers vote for the leadership two years later.

But that contract also called for retro of up to $5,700 for senior teachers to be delivered in a matter of months (here). That was a rather big carrot that this contract does not have (the $1,000 'signing' bonus, which is 1% of the average teacher salary, is about as popular as the $750 bonus was in the 2007 contract settlement. Since not many people don't even remember that (here's a reminder), I'm guessing that it won't affect this vote either). The carrot that this contract has (that it's a 'brand new day for teachers') isn't playing that well among the membership.

And many of these teachers have been through a lot. The experience of these teachers has included increased investigations and '3020' hearings, a higher amount of paperwork and a general higher standard (including not just the CC, but the accountability fixation that our employer has had). Many folks feel that they deserve more.

I see two trends here 1)An unpopular contract garners less votes than UFT leadership (I'll think of it as roughly 10% less) and 2)the popularity of UFT leadership is sliding among the only people who are allowed to vote on a contract.

Don't get me wrong. I think a yes vote will happen. But I also think that the 'yes votes' will be closer. The 60-40 threshold that unpopular contracts, like the 2005 contract, have is a good place to start and I think there will be 5% fewer votes for this then there was for the contract in '05. Here's what makes this contract seem less appealing than the '05 deal:

  • no significant financial incentive that teachers can see
  • no immediate financial incentive that NYC teachers can see (one bonus worth 1% of annual pay is not incentive)
  • raises that, over the life of the contract, are disappointing for most teachers
  • Teachers are concerned over how the effects of PROSE and the ATR settlement may impact their jobs over the life of the contract.
  • Many folks are just plain insulted to be waiting so long for the pay they should have received years ago
My final prediction? Like in '05, the contract will pass, but will be slightly less popular than the election results among working teachers around the same time. I'm thinking somewhere between 55-45 and 60-40. Anything higher than that would just plain buck the trends.

(But hey, I'm just a blogger, I purvey myth. Right, Michael?)

(1) these are folks who voted for the full slate. The numbers for those who split their ballot and voted for individuals are too low to responsibly consider. Also, the remainder of teachers voted with the New Action Caucus.

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