Members have been calling and emailing the union offices asking how political endorsements are made. It is a multilayered process, so here is an attempt to explain how it works:
While the PSC makes its own decision on endorsements in New York City elections, the PSC’s state affiliate, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) is the final decision-making body on candidate endorsements for state office. The PSC’s national union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), has the final say on endorsements of federal candidates.
The process begins with the PSC’s legislation committee conducting interviews of the candidates. For the current State Senate and Assembly races these interviews were in May and June. The committee assesses the candidates’ answers to committee questions, including a written questionnaire, and makes a recommendation to the union’s executive council. In state races the PSC executive council then makes a recommendation to NYSUT.
UNION LOCALS’ INVOLVEMENT
“NYSUT has a political action convention in early August,” explained the union’s legislative director, Kate Pfordresher. “Representatives from locals all over the state attend. Five PSC members, including Mike Fabricant, the PSC’s Legislative Representative attend the convention and speak on behalf of the candidates the PSC recommends.”
She continued, “There are several rounds of meetings and votes. Voting is proportional, so locals like the UFT with 90,000 members carry more weight than the PSC, but there are many locals much smaller than the PSC. The final step is the NYSUT Board of Directors. The board votes and has the final decision. The PSC has several seats on the board, including President Barbara Bowen, who remarked, “We did not get NYSUT to endorse all the candidates recommended by the PSC this year, but some were. And in other races, we got NYSUT to remain neutral.”
All of the legislation committee’s monthly meetings are open to PSC members. Information on the committee’s upcoming meetings is posted on the union’s website.