The United Teachers of Dade announced Thursday that its members had elected its secretary/treasurer to lead the organization.
Fedrick “Fed” Ingram, a native Miamian and former Miami-Dade teacher of the year, netted just under 51 percent of some 7,000 votes cast in Tuesday’s elections and beat out four competitors to win the $134,000 job outright. Ingram, 39, will take over in May as just the third president in the last half-century when current President Karen Aronowitz steps down.
“The work ahead is going to be fun,” Ingram said. “And the work ahead is going to be hard.”
As president, the Miami Jackson Senior High graduate and former Miami Carol City Senior High band director will be tasked with negotiating with the school district on behalf of more than 30,000 public school employees, including about 22,000 teachers. He will also have to address an ever-changing evaluation system, frustration over teachers’ pay, and a declining membership that is down this year to about 18,000.
Ingram said he expects to spend more time than usual in Tallahassee this legislative session now that he is president-elect. He also said he is preparing for collective bargaining as the union heads back into negotiations with the school district in the coming to days to discuss pay and healthcare.
He is the union’s first African-American president, which Ingram said he looks at as a community achievement.
“The bigger issue is we’re a collective unit of voices under one organization that is as diverse as the city we live in,” he said. “It’s just another significant sign to progress in our union, in our city and in our state.”
The union announced Ingram’s victory about 5 a.m. Thursday, more than 36 hours after workers began counting nearly 7,000 votes - all of which Ingram was present for, he said. Malfunctioning Scantron readers were blamed for the delay, which led some candidates Wednesday to ask a judge to halt the vote-counting so that the process could be resumed under the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections.
The judge refused, and on Thursday the candidates withdrew their lawsuit, according to their attorney.
Current first vice president Artie Leichner, among the three who challenged the election, sent a statement Thursday morning announcing his intention to retire and urging those who supported other candidates to get behind Ingram.
“Everyone needs to stand together and demand respect,” said Leichner, who garnered 21 percent of the vote and was Ingram’s stiffest competition.
In other races for union office, Tom Gammon won the union’s first vice president post, but a March 19 runoff will be needed to decide whether Karla Hernandez-Mats or Wanda Santos will take the union’s secretary/treasurer job. Both posts, like the president’s, pay six figures.