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Returns begin to arrive in teachers union election

Teachers union election returns are coming in, and so far the results look good for incumbent union chief Michael Mulgrew and his Unity party.

Union members vote for a long list of candidates which includes not only president but also executive board members, union officers and delegates to conventions. Results for the middle and high school executive board positions, but not president or other board and officer positions, have been announced so far today.

It’s possible that the full returns may not come in today, union sources said. In addition to finishing the full count, the American Arbitration Association, which manages the tally, has to pro-rate the returns for the retiree vote so that only 18,000 votes are counted, even though nearly 25,000 retired teachers returned ballots.

So far, Mulgrew’s Unity slate has been garnering more votes in each contest than it did in the last election in 2007. Also of note: the number of active teachers who voted in the election increased this year. The high school executive board seats, which were the only contested seats this year, went to the Unity/New Action combined slate.

We’ve been hearing results from Norm Scott, a retired teacher and leader in the union opposition party ICE/TJC, who has been watching as the ballots are opened and tallied. Anna is also on her way and will be reporting more returns as they come in.

In the high school executive board elections, 5,203 ballots were returned, about 26 percent of the total ballots mailed out to teachers. Of those, roughly half — 2,595 voters — voted straight down Mulgrew’s Unity slate, with an additional 774 teachers voting along the New Action slate, who endorse Mulgrew. The opposition ICE/TJC party received 1,369 votes, or about 26 percent of the vote. About 8 percent of voters did not vote along party lines, though that will likely alter individual candidates’ totals slightly without changing who wins seats.

For the middle school executive board seats, teachers returned just under a quarter of the 11,697 ballots that were mailed out. Roughly 69 percent of those teachers voted for the Unity slate and an additional 15 percent voted for the New Action slate. The ICE/TJC slate won nearly 9 percent of the vote.

Rates of participation also increased slightly since the 2007 election. That year, 23 percent of the high school ballots and 19 percent of the middle school ballots were returned. Participation rates are also up among elementary school teachers, functional employees and retirees.