A guide for UFT chapter leaders and chapter election committees
Chapters are the lifeblood of the UFT. Having strong leadership on the school level is critical to your interests and the strength of your chapter and our union.
Each school chapter and functional chapter has a chapter leader. Chapter leaders make a difference in the lives of members every day. They are your front-line representatives in our work to ensure that each school has good working conditions and strong morale. It is a rewarding and challenging position. Chapter leaders get extensive training from the UFT and support from district representatives, borough offices and the union’s headquarters.
Your school or functional chapter will also elect delegates to represent you at the Delegate Assembly, the highest legislative body of the UFT. One delegate is elected for every 60 members or a major fraction thereof. Teachers elect their delegates at school while functional chapters hold separate elections. Chapter leaders are also delegates.
Chapter Leaders and Election Committee members are responsible for the UFT chapter elections, through which members will vote for chapter leader, delegate(s), paraprofessional representative and any other chapter positions. This information will guide you through a smooth election.
School chapter leader responsibilities
As the chapter leader, it’s up to you to get the ball rolling for the next UFT chapter election, at which members will vote for chapter leader, delegate(s), paraprofessional representative and any other chapter positions. This page will guide you and the Election Committee toward a smooth election.
Here’s what you have to do:
- You either may appoint an Election Committee with the chapter’s approval or you must hold a chapter election for an Election Committee.
- If you appoint the Election Committee, you have to get approval from the chapter either at a union meeting or by written ballot.
- If your chapter conducts an election for the Election Committee, you must give clear notice of the process via a posted memo or discussion at a union meeting.
- A member who is a candidate may not serve on the Election Committee.
- Safeguard the election materials that the union has sent you and turn them over to the Election Committee once it is chosen. The materials are listed on the next page.
Election committee responsibilities
- Assuring your election or appointment was done according to the rules established by the UFT for chapter elections.
- Preparing a Notice of Election (including details of the nomination process), placing it in every mailbox and posting it on UFT bulletin boards — including those in each school site and annex — at least three (3) days prior to the date for nominations.
- Preparing the ballots and the ballot box and determining eligible voters on the basis of UFT-established rules.
- Conducting the actual election.
- Counting the ballots.
- Certifying the election to the UFT Membership Department on the appropriate form.
- Keeping the ballots and the ballot box in a safe place for at least one month, until such time as a challenge is no longer possible.
In order to properly fulfill your responsibilities, you will need the election materials that the UFT sent to your school. These include:
- The Chapter Election poster (listing the rules and regulations, which are to be posted prominently and read carefully).
- A sample Notice of Election.
- An official UFT membership printout.
- An official election certification form.
- Chapter Leader certificate for posting the election.
You will need the telephone number of your UFT borough office so that you can call the borough representative if you have any questions about the procedures outlined in this manual. Any questions arising during the election process should be reported to your district representative at the borough office.
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In the following sections you’ll find detailed information on your seven responsibilities as a member of the Election Committee. Please follow them carefully.
Make sure that you and your committee were selected in accordance with UFT rules
Please make sure the following rules were adhered to in your selection. If not, go back to the chapter leader and insist that the rules be followed so that your selection cannot be challenged.
"The Election Committee may be designated by the chapter leader, with the approval of the chapter, or may be elected by the chapter."
- If your chapter conducted an election, there should have been clear notice of the process posted or discussed at a union meeting.
- Candidates may not serve on the Election Committee.
- The Election Committee selects one of its members as chairperson. If your committee was appropriately elected or selected, your first role will be to choose a chair. Then, go on to the next step.
Prepare and distribute the Notice of Election
A sample Notice of Election is included in the materials; you can use it or adapt it for your needs. The written Notice of Election shall contain:
- A list of the positions to be filled. In addition to the chapter leader, the notice shall state how many delegates are to be elected: one per 60 teacher members or major fraction thereof. The school printout provides the number of DA delegates. The chapter may include other chapter positions exclusive to the school.
- Procedures for nominations. The union recommends that nominations be submitted to the Election Committee either in writing at a chapter meeting, through school mailboxes or by hand delivery to a designated committee member. A written Nomination Form should specify the person’s name, position, the closing date for nominations and the name of the person who should receive the form. However, this does not preclude voice nominations at a chapter meeting.
- An election calendar. Calendars must include the final date for nominations, which must be at least three (3) school days after the distribution of the Notice of Election, and the date of election, which must be at least five (5) school days following the distribution of the Notice of Election.
- The procedure for appeal. See Responsibility 7.
Finally, make sure that the Notice of Election is placed in every UFT member’s mailbox at all school sites and annexes, and post it on the UFT bulletin board at each annex and site at least three (3) school days prior to the date for nominations.
Ballots, the ballot box and eligibility
The chair of the Election Committee must verify that all nominees accept their nominations. All nominees should verify their agreement to run in writing. The ballot box must be secure and monitored at all times by the Election Committee. Here’s who may nominate, run and vote in chapter elections:
- The UFT Constitution does not provide for co-chapter leaders. If a chapter chooses to have a co-chapter leader, it may only be on an informal basis. Only one name may be submitted as chapter leader of record.
- Any full-time member may nominate, run for a position and vote in a school’s election if he or she is on the school’s permanent table of organization or assigned to the school on the first Monday in May of an election year.
- Only teachers are eligible to nominate, run for and vote for school DA delegate. He or she must be on the school’s table of organization or assigned to the school on the first Monday in May of an election year and must have signed the union card at least 60 days prior to the election.
- Secretaries, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals and other functional chapter members are represented in the Delegate Assembly through their functional chapters and may stand for election as delegate from their functional chapters.
- District 75 and District 79 members nominate and are nominated for chapter office in their District 75 or 79 school. District 75 or 79 members and others who are permanently housed in the school building may vote in that chapter leader election.
- Agency fee payers may not nominate, run or vote in chapter elections.
- Every school is entitled to elect a paraprofessional representative and the vote may take place at the same time as the chapter election. Only paraprofessionals may nominate, run and vote for paraprofessional representatives.
- Persons on split assignment shall vote in their payroll school. Like others, these members must vote in person; no absentee ballots may be cast. F-status substitutes (those with regularly scheduled part-time assignments) may vote in their school election.
Conducting the election
- The ballot box must be secure and monitored at all times by the Election Committee.
- Provision will be made for members who are out on official school business — e.g., a class trip or conference — or who are not on the school’s table of organization, but eligible to participate to cast ballots before the close of balloting.
- Members must vote in person; no absentee ballots may be cast.
- Voting must take place by secret ballot on the date announced in the Election Calendar.
- In cases where positions are not contested (only one candidate has been nominated for a particular role), those candidates can be confirmed without a formal vote.
Time and place for counting ballots
The count shall take place on the day of voting, and provision must be made to include the vote of all school sites and annexes with the school count.
A supervised ballot box must be provided at a specific location. A membership roster must be available and is to be initialed by the voter at the time the ballot is cast. Each chapter leader will have a membership printout and a chapter certification form. The printouts should be checked immediately by the Election Committee for errors or omissions. Members who were not on the school’s table of organization but were assigned to the school on the first Monday in May must be added to the roster.
An individual whose name is not on the printout but who claims membership and can display evidence of UFT membership — such as a NYSUT membership card or check stub with proper dues code (“-U”) — should be allowed to vote. The ballot, however, is subject to challenge and must be sequestered. This does not apply to members who were assigned to the school on the first Monday in May but are
not on the table of organization.
Ballots shall be counted at the time and place announced in the Election Calendar. Candidates or their observers may be present at the count. Election shall be determined by the highest number of votes. Challenged ballots should be set aside and, if their number could affect the outcome of the election, the Election Committee should call the borough representative.
The Election Committee shall place an announcement of the results on the UFT bulletin board immediately after the election.
All ballots and election materials shall be retained by the Election Committee for at least one month to allow for review of results.
Certify the election
The Election Committee chair must certify the election to the UFT Membership Department on the appropriate form, whether paper or electronic. The online form can be obtained from the chapter's UFT district representative. Alternatively, the official Chapter Certification Data Form (paper form) can be sent to:
UFT Membership Department
52 Broadway • 11th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Keeping the ballots
You are responsible for the security of the ballots and the ballot box. Following the count, the Election Committee chair should take control of the ballots and the initialed membership printout. These ballots should be held for at least one month so that they can be handed over to the borough representative if the election is challenged.
Appeals of elections must be made in writing to the UFT borough representative, with written notice to the chapter within five (5) school days following the election. In the event that a challenge to the election is successful, the borough representative shall establish an expedited election procedure.