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Teachers union election: the ballot counting begins

At 9:01 this morning in a room in the Parkside Hotel, a voice yelled “Let’s get started.” And with that, the day-long teachers union ballot count began.

More than a dozen long tables were lined up in rows and seated at them were American Arbitration Association employees tasked with removing ballots from their envelopes. As the envelope openers got to work, piles of pink ballots (these belong to high school teachers) appeared around the room and were scanned, a process that has the shrill sound of a paper shredder.

United Federation of Teachers officials arrived in clusters to watch the counting and were greeted by Ray Frankel, the union’s election coordinator who has overseen the elections for almost 40 years and was adamant that I stay as far away from this process as humanly possible. A spokesman for the UFT said President Michael Mulgrew isn’t likely to stop by, but the UFT’s staff director and members of the ICE/TJC and New Action caucuses are in the audience.

The AAA has the room reserved until 6 p.m. tonight, by which time the results should be in.