Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Call to Boycott COPE

I have a suggestion that will really get UFT and RW's attention, organize a COPE Boycott. Distribute COPE termination cards at your school and urge teachers to opt out. This will hit the UFT where it hurts them the most, their bottom line. We have paid millions of COPE dollars over the years to influence New York's politicians. Randi has not been using this political capital to change mayoral control. She has completely ignored the will of her members. She is secretly
supporting the re-authorization of mayoral control. This will be her grand finale before she leaves for Washington.

Hit the UFT where it hurts the most by organizing a COPE boycott in your school. Its the only real power that the average member has.
----Posted on the ICE listserve.

Getting into COPE, the political action arm of the UFT, is easy. But it is like a black hole and almost impossible to escape - at least as I remember the difficulty people had when I was chapter leader. They would fill out the removal cards and somehow they never got processed.

This is not the first time this has been suggested and the opposition parties in the UFT always seemed reluctant to go along, fearing they would come under attack for undermining the union. (Remember: the opposition supports the union but opposes the leadership.)

Mainly, that the concept of COPE is a good one and the struggle is to get the money used in the right way. But these internal struggles are very difficult in a union that is totally controlled and manipulated and there's a sense of increasing frustration as the UFT has not only been unable to oppose the ed deformer polices, but has actually aided and abetted so much of their program, from merit pay to closing schools to charter schools and beyond.

I personally am more inclined to take another look at this issue (I speak as an individual here and not as ICE - you know how the Unity hacks will take a statement from Ed Notes and try to make to ICE policy.) There is no question the money is used to further the narrow ends of the leadership, with the rank and file coming last. Do you see the UFT using the money to end mayoral control? Or force class size reductions? Or reduce the power of the principals?

I would look at this in another way. Get people to withdraw from COPE but set up an escrow fund that will be held as a means of forcing democratizing changes in the union structure. Send a message to the leadership: Make the union more democratic or the money will be released to opposition groups to organize. Who would run this escrow fund and how it would be managed is beyond me at this time but it is an idea worth looking at.


The third wheel said...

I wanna stop my COPE payments but no one in my school knows how. I'm paying a buck fifty. People I know are paying three quarters of a dollar. I want this. I want this badly! I want some measure of payback where I can simply say I'm taking back my money because I want to. My Onion doesn't support the classroom teacher as well as they should for all the reasons you stated Norm...

Anonymous said...

i do not see the value in an escrow fund. for starters, administrating it would open people up to liability.

in this age of accountability, a sudden lack or decrease in funding should be the price to pay. if lost time is never found again, then lost dollars should be forever lost.

note, i had written on this to you august 2007

if one wants to stop cope, it will require perseverance and work. for starters, to stop cope requires a card, similar to the ones that are used to enroll. there is one big problem. those cards have to be requested from the cope office. chapter leaders do not have them. so you write a letter to cope. they send back a letter to you asking if you are sure and reminding you of the value of cope. they will also tell you in the letter how long you have been a cope member.
you send them back a letter requesting the card. they send you the required card, with a note saying it is up to the city to stop it once the card has been filled out.
eventually the cope deductions stop.

if a person wanted to stop it this year, it is doubtful if they would be successful before september at this point.
it is do-able. it can be done.

on the other hand, suppose one wanted to get their message across faster, without mailing back and forth to cope, and still make a statement. that is far easier. ask you chapter leader for the blank or "C" cope card (some cope cards have the amount at $5 per pay period). fill it out and for the amount of donation, put a value of one cent per pay period. there is nothing to stop you from canceling cope altogether at a future time.

let us look at a hypothetical situation.
1000 teachers give a buck for each pay period to cope.
that is 1000 dollars per pay period
upset with the union they decide on some action.

they change their contribution to one cent per pay period.
the amount that goes to cope is 10 dollars.
the money needed to flex their muscles has been reduced dramatically.

if enough teachers opted for this, it just might provide the leverage needed for action. and that action could save jobs, harassment, rubber room refugees, or even the contract.

Melvin Band said...

How terribly unfortunate it is that during this time of the corona virus where upwards of 70 teachers have already passed away that we have a UFT leadership that allows itself to be jerked around by an a mayor and his chancellor. Even though the NYS Department of Health issued an order on March 9th to close the schools for at least 24 hours if there were confirmed cases of corona, the DOE on March 10th basically rescinded that order. Where the heck was the UFT President, Michael Mulgrew? Negotiating with the mayor? Here's what Mulgrew should have done and if he doesn't do it next time an dthere will be asecond wave of corona, then teachers in the affected schools and schools throughout the city in solidarity with their union Brothers and Sisters MUST do. Stop Cope payments . Mulgrew must go to a school that is not being closed. Call a press conference. after school when the kids are dismissed. have each teacher hold up American flag. He tells the press, " I have a message for the mayor and his chancellor. "You see these flags, Mr.Mayor, the ones with the stars and the strips? What do you see, flags with hammers and sickels? You are in the wrong country. This is NYC along the Hudson River. it's not Moscow along the Hudson. Do yourself a favor when you leaver==r office, move to Russia where they will welcome you with open arms.