On Saturday, after AFT President Weingarten announced that the union was endorsing Hillary Clinton, the blogosphere exploded. While Randi issued tweet after tweet extolling the union’s lovefest with the Democratic frontrunner, disenfranchised AFT members excoriated the AFT Executive Council’s lack of transparency and manipulation of survey data that distorted statistical outcomes.
For example, Steven Singer at Gadfly, cross-linked at Badass Teachers Association, condemned the AFT’s press release claiming that survey data indicated that two-thirds of members support HRC over Bernie Sanders. Singer writes,
Where exactly are the polls, surveys, etc. that show the Clinton support AFT leadership claims?
For instance, which polls produced which results? The press release says AFT members prefer Clinton 3-1. But even if Clinton came out on top consistently, surely the results weren’t identical on every poll. Maybe she got 75% on one and 65% on another.
The AFT hasn’t released everything, but the organization’s website gives us a memo about ONE of these phone surveys. This national survey of membership planning to vote in Democratic primaries found 67% picked Clinton. However, only 1,150 members participated! That’s a far cry from the more than 1 million cited in the press release.
Where is the rest of the data? Where is the raw information from this survey? Where is the data from all these other outreach attempts and on-line activities? How many took phone surveys? How many took on-line surveys? And what were the results in each case? If union members really did endorse Clinton, that’s fine. But many of us would like to see the proof.
Singer raises serious questions about the AFT’s misleading data aggregation. He notes that “a lot of my friends are AFT members, but none of them recall any survey." He bemoans the overwhelming numbers of members who unwittingly opted out of the assessment survey and the subsequent lack of accountability and proportionality in AFT’s purported outcomes. At least one large cohort of members prefers Bernie Sanders (I'm not sure what the “n” number is for that subgroup) but, claims Singer, they were uncounted because AFT’s failed to test the preferences of the full membership.
Singer: “I asked Randi about this on Twitter. She said there were 2 polls of AFT members, the latest of which was in June. The results were 79% of union members said endorse; and 67% of those dem primary voters said endorse Hillary. However, I can’t find these polls anywhere. Has anyone seen one or the results? So we have members voting for Hillary on polls that no one has seen or has not been made public.”
The Badass Teachers Organization, which represents disenfranchised members, is accusing AFT of lack of transparency in their data collection and is currently conducting its own survey. Word on the street is that this effort to fight back against the monopolistic AFT empire will evolve into a union choice movement, with BATS serving as an incubator of ideas that challenge the status quo. Plans are afoot to siphon operating funds from AFT's coffers in order to support thus burgeoning cry for alternative representation in the form of a charter union. Suggested names for the new union include Uncommon Teachers, Mastery Union, Teacher Success Academy, and Crusaders in Progressive Professions (CIPP).