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Home » Clarion » 2024 » March 2024 » Building the union’s electoral power

Building the union’s electoral power

Signing up members for COPEBy ARI PAUL

This year, progressive state assembly members and senators will fight to keep their seats and maintain a Democratic majority in both state legislative houses. The following year looks to be just as busy, with progressive city council members up for re-election and a possible Democratic primary challenge to Mayor Eric Adams.

Liz Stevenson

Liz Stevenson, a PSC COPE coordinator, says COPE membership has doubled since 2019. Photo credit: Paul Frangipane

How does the PSC flex its electoral muscle in such times? Through PSC/CUNY COPE, the union’s political action committee fund. Contributions to this fund are separate from regular union dues, which cannot be used for political purposes. They increase the efficacy of the union’s electoral work. It is vital that as many PSC members contribute to COPE as possible.


And members are joining in increasing numbers. According to Liz Stevenson, one of the union’s COPE coordinators, the number of PSC members contributing to the fund doubled between 2019 and 2023. Stevenson, an academic advisor at City Tech and a member of the union’s legislative committee, attributes this growth to outreach, as she has been going to PSC chapter meetings and informing members about COPE.

“There are a lot of PSC members who don’t know COPE exists, what it is or how to contribute,” she said. “There are lots of members who have joined the PSC in the last decade and don’t know that COPE is there.”

With more members contributing to COPE, the union has more resources to defend its allies at the state and city level. These are electeds who have supported the PSC and fought against cuts to CUNY and have advocated for the New Deal for CUNY, state-level legislation that would increase full-time faculty and staff at CUNY and make the university tuition-free again. At the city level, the PSC’s allies in the City Council have proven to be vital in fighting back the worst of the Adams administration’s cuts to CUNY and other services.


“Unfortunately, in politics, money is power. It translates to more power in a lot of ways,” Stevenson said of the increased contributions to COPE. “I think people see it as an investment. We recognize that our job security, our pension, our salaries and the services on our campuses, all of that is really dependent on who is in power in our state and city government.”

Contributing to COPE is one of the many ways PSC members can become involved. Combined with our strategic plan and upcoming event-organizing campaigns, we can build the power we need to win a strong contract and a well-funded university. Members can sign up online to contribute to COPE.

Published: February 27, 2024

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