Longtime teachers' union president Jerry Jordan cruised to victory Wednesday, capturing a new four-year term as head of the powerful Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
Jordan had faced his toughest challenge in years for leadership of the PFT. The Caucus of Working Educators, a group of activist teachers formed two years ago, mounted a robust campaign against Jordan's slate, known as the Collective Bargaining Team.
Though it gained significant traction, and has been a visible presence at School Reform Commission meetings and on social media, WE, as it is known, failed to muster wide-ranging support among the union's 11,000 members.
Amy Roat, a teacher at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, headed the WE slate.
Jordan said his team won by a 3-1 ratio.
"I'm just thrilled," Jordan said. "I think it's a clear indication of the trust and confidence that the membership has in my team and me. I'm honored by their belief in us."
WE said the union has grown out of touch and bureaucratic under Jordan. It alleged that the CB Team paid too little attention to social-justice issues, and was incapable of real organization of the city's teachers. Jordan and his team dismissed those suggestions.
Roat said that WE, which counts about 500 active and associate members, was proud of its work and that its goals had always reached beyond the election. The rank and file is now energized and stronger, she said.
"We're obviously disappointed with the outcome, but we're really ready to stand with all the members of the PFT to fight for a stronger and more engaged union, and to fight all the battles ahead for the PFT," she said.
WE leaders said they would now move into the next phase of their work, including a "One PFT" campaign, training sessions at schools, and events for the summer.
Jordan also said that part of his work would be to embrace WE.
"They are members of the PFT," he said. "One of my goals will be to heal a division within the organization."
Jordan has been union chief since 2007 and a PFT staffer since 1987. The CB Team has headed the union since 1983.
The PFT has lost thousands of members in the last decade to district layoffs and restructuring, but it has also scored significant victories, winning legal battles and staving off the major concessions the Philadelphia School District has won from other unions.
The union also played a major role in the elections of Gov. Wolf, Mayor Kenney, and City Councilwoman Helen Gym.
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. saluted Jordan.
"Congratulations to Jerry Jordan and his team on their election victory," he said in a statement. "For many years, Jerry and his team have demonstrated their commitment to Philadelphia's students and public education. As a fellow educator, I look forward to resuming our collective work to enhance and improve educational opportunities for our students."