Dear UFCT 1460 members,
My sincere thanks for all who attended the town halls last week. It was a valuable learning experience for all of us on the Executive Committee.
Having reflected on and discussed the three town halls with the Executive Committee, I am writing today to offer my perspective, and discuss how we will move forward.
First, and foremost, on behalf of the Executive Committee, I am happy to announce, pending confirmation from the membership, the appointment of Emily Beall to the office of Vice President. Emily is a long standing faculty member in Humanities and Media Studies, former assistant chair, and was Vice President of UFCT1460 nearly a decade ago. Aside from bringing her years of union experience and deep knowledge of Pratt to the Executive Committee, the appointment of Emily, I hope, will help us put the divisions of last year's election behind us so that we can move forward with the important work that we as a union must do together.
I also want to take this occasion to address some of the concerns around my elevation to the Presidency. The town halls generated several reasonable concerns around this as well as some suggestions for moving forward. I was heartened by how fair minded and engaged the membership has been. I have discussed all these suggestions with the Executive Committee, but as president, it is my job to act decisively. My decision is to continue in my role as president until the next election, which will be held in the Fall of 2025, bringing our election cycle back into alignment with the bylaws. At that point, I will not seek reelection as president. I view my Presidency as a transitional one, helping to provide the space for a new generation of leaders to emerge.
This does not mean I do not see the wisdom in other’s suggestions, but, simply put, I think holding an election right now, while we are just getting started with the reforms critical to the health of our union, would be irresponsible. The Executive Committee expressed grave concerns about disrupting the flow of work and progress being made at this moment with an election that would almost certainly return us to a time of rancor and upheaval.
Returning to the schedule ignored by the prior administration and scheduling the next election in Fall 2025– three semesters from now–will allow any new leadership to take office in the Spring of 2026. This will provide us with a year to understand the financial state of the institution, prepare proposals in conversations with the membership, build alliances with other unions in the tri-state area also renegotiating their contracts (there is discussion of a tri-state faculty union constitutional convention) and most importantly, begin to bargain before the contract expires in Summer 2027. A special election right now would put the next election in the Spring of 2027, only months before the contract expires. We must, in the end, make decisions based on what is best for the long term success of this union.
Some members were concerned that my appointment, despite following the path laid out in our bylaws, was not democratic. Yet, the fact is that the principal responsibility of the Vice President as laid out in the bylaws is to assume the Presidency in case of resignation.
A little history here is also useful. Appointments pending confirmation are democratic. This was clearly the position of over ⅔ of the UFCT 1460 membership in 2014 when the bylaws were written. Both myself and Robert were confirmed via the democratic process laid out in the bylaws and ratified by a large majority of the membership. Had we not received a majority of votes to confirm, there would have been an election.
Robert received 154 votes or 70% and I received 148 or 67%. How do these numbers compare to previous votes? For comparison, in 2013, the last competitive election in the union before 2023, 555 Pratt faculty were eligible to vote and only 256 voted–around the same percentage that voted in this summer’s confirmation vote. The winner, Kye Carbone, received 169 votes–just about the same number of votes to confirm received by myself and Robert.
More importantly, last year’s election was not about personality. It was about policy. Members asked for transparency, an easier enrollment process, membership growth, and a more organized and activated membership so as to prepare for a transformational contract in 2027 to address the enduring economic and structural inequalities at Pratt. Despite not being on the original slate, Robert and I were involved in developing the policies of the PUFF slate, the policies that are now being implemented. Despite the changes in roles, the union is doing well. We have grown the membership by nearly 30%. We have reduced the fees we pay to our parent unions so that we retain a much higher percentage of the dues we pay. The delegates assembly is larger and more active than it has been in years. The grievance team has negotiated successful resolutions to every grievance case brought to the administration thus far. For the first time in a long time, this union is in a period of massive growth and transformation.
My plan, to shorten my term, and return to the timeline laid out in the bylaws, allows members to vote one year before negotiations start. This will give candidates the opportunity to run on platforms that look to the bargaining table. This timeline, coupled with my pledge to step aside as president, allows others to consider a leadership role. This Executive Committee would like to see more members involved in our union. If you are interested in knowing more about what our union is up to, and how you can help, reach out to us. I will use my time in this position to further all of our aims, and build a roster of leaders to take us into the future.
Thank you all for your dedication to each other, and to our union.