Welcome to the 2020 PFT Election info page! We are rank and file PFT members that had a lot of questions about the election process and we’re sharing what we’ve learned about union election laws, procedures, and rights. The authors are members of the Caucus of Working Educators and encourage suggestions and constructive criticism from CB/WE supporters and all PFT members to make this site as accurate and fair as possible.

This is not a one-stop shop! For official nonpartisan info from our union please visit the PFT Website

For partisan positions and platforms, please visit the caucus/slate websites and social media:

Collective Bargaining Team (CB) Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Caucus of Working Educators (WE) Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Youtube

General Election Questions

PFT Caucuses & Slates

Fair Election Laws, Practices, & Policies

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 7.13.37 PM

 

  • Why does the PFT have elections?

    • It’s federal law and in the PFT Constitution. We are a democratic union! 
      • As an AFT local, the PFT is required to adhere to federal labor law. – AFT Constitution
        • “The conduct of elections shall be consistent with the standards for such elections developed under Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). Terms of office for officers shall not exceed four years, or fewer if required by applicable state or federal laws.” (Article IV, Section 5)
      • Federal labor law (LMRDA Title IVb): “Every local labor organization shall elect its officers not less often than once every three years.”
      • The PFT Constitution was amended in April 2007: “Effective July 1, 2008, the term of office for members of the Executive Board shall be 4 years.”

Return to the top

 

  • When will the PFT election be held?

    • The exact dates are decided by the PFT Executive Board (To be announced).
    • The PFT Constitution states that elections “shall be held no earlier than the first week in January and no later than the last week in April” (Article IV, Section 5B).
    • In 2018, ballots were mailed on February 8, and counted on February 28.
    • In 2016, ballots were mailed on February 4. and counted on February 24.
    • Deadlines for candidates to submit consent forms and petitions are several weeks before ballots are mailed (To be announced).

Return to the top

 

  • Are these elections dividing or weakening our union?

    • Only if we let it! Democratic elections bring many voices to the table.  There have only been two elections in PFTs 50-year history where the incumbent leadership went unchallenged (Philly Public Record). In 2008, two individuals ran against the current president (PR Newswire). In 2016, the Caucus of WE challenged the CB Team in a spirited, but unsuccessful bid for leadership. While we may disagree and argue about issues, healthy debate is essential to democracy.
    • We are one democratic union, the PFT, and these elections bring out our members’ talents and energy. CB and WE members work together in solidarity now and we will continue to do so regardless of the outcome of the elections.

Return to the top

 

  • Who is eligible to vote in PFT elections?

    • Eligible members are those whose names appear on the latest School District Payroll Deduction (PD) list.
    • New members whose application cards have been received in PFT Office by a specified deadline. In 2016 the deadline was about two weeks before ballots were mailed. Call the PFT office for the exact date.
    • Members on leave of absence, sick leave or layoff status who have continuously, without a break, paid the two dollars dues for each pay period of absence. Addendum: On January 15, 2016 members were notified via email that laid-off members that have not paid their dues, could pay dues in arrears to become eligible to vote.
    • Cash members not eligible for payroll deduction who have paid their dues without a break since leaving active service.
    • Per diems who appear on any January PD list up to the deadline shall be eligible to vote.

Return to the top

 

  • Why should I vote?

    • The PFT is a democratic organization that needs the active participation of its membership to survive, thrive, and serve educators and the children and families of Philadelphia! Now more than ever we need to show that we’re ready to bring every member’s voice to the table to fight the well-funded attacks targeting our profession, urban public schools, and communities of color.

Return to the top

 

  • How do I vote?

    • Ballots will be mailed to members’ home address in [The 2020 mailing date is TBA]. Look for an envelope similar to the one below:
      Envelope 1
    • When you receive your ballots in the mail, follow all directions exactly as written. Any variation on your ballot could void your vote.
    • If you do not receive a ballot by mail, or if your ballot is damaged or tampered with, immediately contact the American Arbitration Association at 215-731-2280.
    • The PFT uses a double envelope secret ballot system. Follow these procedures:
      • There will be separate ballots for Executive Board positions (if any), national and state AFT Convention delegates. There will also be two envelopes with instructions.
      • After you have completed your selections, fold all ballots and place them inside the inner blue envelope.
      • Seal the blue envelope and then place it inside the outer pre-addressed business reply envelope.
Secret Ballot Envelope
Inner Blue Envelope
Outer Envelope_Page_1
Outer Pre-Addressed Envelope
      • The outer envelope is addressed to the AAA who will be tallying the votes. The envelope must be sent to the AAA via US Mail.
      • AAA will sort the outer envelopes, validate the names of voters as eligible, and check for duplicates. The outer envelopes will be opened and stored separately from the inner envelopes. The inner envelopes will then be shuffled, opened, and the votes will be counted. These procedures guarantee that your votes are kept secret.
      • PFT members are welcome to observe any part of this process. The vote count will be conducted by the AAA at (date and location TBA).

        • Any ballots not received by the AAA via US Mail by (date TBA) will not be counted. Don’t wait until the last minute!

Return to the top

 

  • What leadership positions will I vote for in 2020?

    • *The following is based on the 2016 election and is subject to change:
    • You will be voting for 36 Positions: 9 Executive Officers, and 27 Executive Board Members.
    • You will also vote for 100 Philadelphia delegates to the national AFT convention in 2020, and 100 delegates to the PA AFT Convention in 2021.
      • PFT Constitution ARTICLE V: Officers and the Executive Board Section
      • The 9 Executive Officers shall be:
        • President
        • General Vice President
        • Special Vice President from the elementary group
        • Special Vice President  from the middle years group
        • Special Vice President from the senior high, skills center and technical high school groups
        • Treasurer,
        • Recording Secretary
        • Associate Secretary
        • Legislative Representative
        • The 27 Executive Board shall consist of:
          • 3 from the elementary school positions, one of whom shall be a teacher with other than grade appointment
          • 3 members regularly assigned to middle years positions
          • 3 members regularly appointed from senior high schools/vocational technical high schools/skills centers, at least one of whom shall be from a vocational technical high school or skills center
          • 1 Special Education teacher,
          • 1 from the professional supportive services consisting of nurses, therapists, psychologists
          • 1 Long Term Substitute teacher 
          • 1 member from the Secretarial bargaining unit
          • 1 member of the NTA bargaining unit
          • 1 member of the Paraprofessional bargaining unit
          • 1 member of the Comprehensive Early Learning Centers bargaining unit
          • 1 member of the Head Start bargaining unit
          • 1 member of the Food Services Manager bargaining unit
          • 1 member of the Professional Technical bargaining unit
          • 1 member of the Reading Assistants/SSA bargaining unit
          • 1 member of the Per Diem bargaining unit
          • 6 Members At Large.
      • *If a bargaining unit shall no longer exist, the Executive Board position for that unit shall become an at-large position.

Return to the top

 

  • Who can run for PFT leadership?

    • Executive officers must be members in good standing for 3 years.
    • Executive board members must be members in good standing for 1 year.

Return to the top

 

  • Who are the PFT Staff, Legal Services, and Health and Welfare Fund Staff? Are their jobs up for election too?

    • PFT staff, regional reps, Legal Services, and Health and Welfare staff are the hardworking paid employees of our union that serve all members of the PFT. Their jobs are not up for election! They are not on the CB or WE slate, so regardless of which slate or candidates win the election they continue their service to the members of the PFT.

 

Return to the top

 

  • When, Where, and What happens at the AFT Conventions?

    • The National AFT Convention is held biannually on even numbered years. Delegates from across the country gather for 4 days to attend action fairs, panel discussions, divisional meetings, nominating sessions, and general sessions for speakers and to vote on political endorsements, resolutions, and constitutional amendments. See details and summaries of the 2018 National AFT Convention.
    • The next National AFT Convention will be held in 2020. Transportation, hotel accommodation, and $50 per day for expenses will be provided to delegates.
    • The next Pennsylvania AFT Convention will be held in 2021. Transportation, hotel accommodation, and $50 per day for expenses will be provided to delegates.

Return to the top

 

  • What is a delegate? Can I run as a delegate to the AFT Conventions?

    • Delegates are elected to represent and vote on behalf of the PFT at an AFT Convention.
    • Delegates to AFT Conventions must be members in good standing (currently and continuously paying dues).
    • A candidate may run as part of a slate or independently.
    • If you want to run as a delegate to one or both conventions, you must submit a signed consent form for each convention to the PFT office by [date TBA]. If you wish to run on a slate, the form must be signed by the head of the slate.

Return to the top

 

  • What is the Nomination and Election Committee? 

    • The Election Committee is composed of PFT members representing the different slates running for office. They are in charge of overseeing the electoral process, in particular the counting of votes, and the monitoring of election violations. The Executive Board appoints a chair and each slate may appoint 5 members of the committee.
    • (Members TBA)

Return to the top

 

  • What is a caucus?

    • A caucus is simply a group of people with shared concerns within a political party or larger organization. Most unions have multiple caucuses and there have been many caucuses in PFT’s past, including the Progressive Caucus of the PFT and the School Employees Action Caucus (SEAC).
    • Currently there are 2 active caucuses in the PFT: the incumbent Collective Bargaining Team (CB), and the challenger Caucus of Working Educators (WE).

Return to the top

 

  • What is a slate? Do I have to vote for an entire slate, or can I pick and choose from each slate?

    • A slate is a group of candidates that were nominated by a caucus to run for positions on the ballot. Both the CB Team and the Caucus of WE are running slates in the current election. Candidates may also run independent of a slate.
    • You can either vote “straight ticket” by marking one of the boxes at the top of the ballot next to a slate name, voting entirely for one slate or the other, or you can “split your ticket,” by marking boxes next to individual candidates of both slates. The individual candidates with the most votes for their position on the ballot will win the election. See the 2016 Sample Ballots.

Return to the top

 

  • Who is the Collective Bargaining Team (CB)?

    • The CB Team is the incumbent caucus that has held the leadership of the PFT continuously since the early 1980s.
    • “The Collective Bargaining Team is dedicated and committed to the belief that Philadelphia Public School teachers and school staff can make a significant contribution to improving public education to provide our children with the best opportunities to master the skills they will need to succeed.”CB Team website

Return to the top

 

  • Who is the Caucus of Working Educators (WE)?

    • The Caucus of WE was formed in 2014 after 5 years of grassroots school and community organizing. WE ran for PFT leadership in 2016, and is running again in 2020.We logo solid red
    • “We are PFT members from across the city who believe that our union can and must become much stronger if we want to win a stronger contract. We want to change the course of the PFT – from becoming smaller and weaker each year to tapping into the power of our members and our communities so we can fight for the schools Philly students deserve.”  – Caucus of WE website

Return to the top

 

  • Can PFT members campaign in other school buildings?

    • Yes. Any PFT member can campaign in any school district building during non-instructional time, including before school, after school, and during lunch periods.
    • Members campaigning for both CB and WE must be given equal access to facilities.
    • PFT members’ right to campaign cannot be infringed upon by other PFT members, including building reps, according to federal labor law (LMRDA).
    • PFT members’ right to campaign cannot be interfered with by principals, assistant principals, or district administrators according to Pennsylvania labor law (PERA) and the First Amendment. Andrew Rosen, SDP Deputy of Employee Relations sent a memo to all district principals on January 22, 2016 addressing campaigning in school buildings:
“Supporters of both slates have the right, like any visitor, to enter your school in the same manner and under the same rules as other visitors. They should sign in and report to the main office. It would be helpful if you alerted appropriate staff that visitors from outside the school may be coming to the school for this purpose. These visitors should all be SDP employees and have identification as such.
Both slates have the right to meet with staff before and after work in the school. They cannot, under any circumstances, take staff away from assigned duties or disrupt the education of students. Therefore, if a room is requested, provide it.”
    • “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” – Justice Abe Fortas, Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)

Return to the top

 

  • Can PFT members place campaign materials in staff mailboxes and on bulletin boards?

    • Yes. Any PFT member “absolutely has the right to put material in mailboxes at other schools,” says PFT staffer and regional rep Erik Fleming.
    • Candidates from all slates must have equal access to mailboxes according to federal labor law (LMRDA).
    • The same equal access principle applies to bulletin boards and walls in staff (not student) areas where posters are hung. These are legally considered “designated public fora” and material placed there is subject to First Amendment protection.
    • The clause in the PFT Contract that allows a PFT representative to use mailboxes does not exclude other PFT members from also using the mailboxes to distribute campaign materials. PFT building reps do not have the right to deny access to mailboxes by other PFT members, nor may they remove materials from the boxes of other members.
    • Principals may ask to see what materials are placed into mailboxes, but they may not deny equal access to members of any slate or otherwise interfere with union organizing and campaigning according to Pennsylvania labor law (PERA). Andrew Rosen, SDP Deputy of Employee Relations sent a memo to all district principals on January 22, 2016 addressing the use of staff mailboxes:
“As you are aware, elections generate literature. This election is no different. However, instead of mailing the literature to someone’s home, the literature is placed in the school mailboxes. This is permissible for both slates. Do not interfere with this right. However, permission to enter the space where the mailboxes are located must be requested and should be granted unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.”

Return to the top

 

  • Can PFT building reps, regional reps, officers, and staffers campaign during their work hours or in PFT chapter or regional meetings?

    • No, not during their work hours or in PFT meetings. Use of PFT “time” is considered a use of union resources and is forbidden by federal labor law (LMRDA).

Return to the top

 

  • Can AFT officers or staffers support the election of a slate or candidate?

    • No, not during their work hours. Use of AFT “time” is considered a use of union resources and is forbidden by federal labor law (LMRDA).

Return to the top

 

  • How did those campaign mailers get to my house? Do CB and/or WE have my home address?

    • Neither caucus has your home address unless you gave it to them.
    • The PFT has contact info for members, but may not use those lists (or any other union resources) to support a candidate or caucus according to federal law (LMRDA).
    • According to PFT election procedures, any caucus running a slate may pay to send out campaign materials to the membership though a third-party (unionized) print shop and mail house. A data company retrieves employee data from the district and supplies it directly to SED, who in turn send out both CB and WE mailings to members’ homes. Addresses are not shared with the caucuses.

Return to the top

 

  • Will the PFT, or anyone else know how I voted?

    • No, not unless you tell them.
    • When you send back your ballot, you will be placing it in two envelopes: first in an anonymous ballot envelope, and then in the prepaid mailing envelope. This second, outer envelope gets scanned upon delivery. This ensures that the ballot mailbox isn’t being stuffed. That envelope is then removed and stored in a separate location, leaving only your anonymous ballot. AAA will have a record of who sent in a ballot, but NOT how you voted.

Return to the top

 

  • What if someone offers a raffle ticket for my ballot, asks me to fill out my ballot, or to mail my ballot envelope for me?

    • Under no circumstances should you let anyone else complete your ballot or to mail your ballot envelope for you. The PFT election should adhere to the principle of “one person-one vote.”
    • It is best to mail your ballot from a closed mailbox, rather than an open box at your school.
    • Ballot raffles are legal, however they can compromise the integrity of an election or building rep if they involve members relinquishing their actual ballots for the drawing or mailing. Ballot secrecy can be maintained only if you follow instructions and personally mark and mail your ballot.”The US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)
    • If you suspect that your ballot has been stolen or tampered with, call the AAA to request a replacement ballot immediately at 215-731-2280.

Return to the top

 

  • Where can I report violations of fair campaign practices or election rules?

    • Violations of election laws or procedures should be reported to a member of the Election Committee or to the AAA. Each caucus may appoint a specific committee member to take complaints.
      • Violations may be reported to a CB supporter. (Contact info TBA)
      • Violations may be reported to WE member, Tom Quinn: tquinn6935@gmail.com / 215-300-9275.
      • Violations may be reported to the AAA: 215-731-2280
    • Complaints involving your colleagues should not be made to school administrators.

Return to the top

This website is a project of the Caucus of Working Educators. You can read more about why we created this website here