VOTE-COPE is the acronym of Voices of Teachers in Education—Committee on Political Education. This is the political action fund of our parent union, NYSUT, and, as up to 40% of the money collected can come back to the NCCFT for our local political actions, it is vital to the NCCFT political action fund too. VOTE-COPE funds are used to back up endorsements with campaign contributions, and that money gives NYSUT power. NYSUT-endorsed candidates and campaign committees are non-partisan; that is, they are selected solely on the basis of the level of commitment to union members’ issues that the candidate has demonstrated. Member contributions are voluntary: we are asking, and hoping, you will contribute. Currently, 42% of NCCFT membership contributes through payroll deductions to VOTE-COPE; we would be more effective at 100%.
NYSUT issues: the NYSUT Legislative Department drafts, introduces, and lobbies for bills to improve New York state aid to public schools and colleges, improve funding and student access to New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and Excelsior Scholarship, Employee Retirement System improvements, health care, licensure, occupational health and safety, and education standards. NYSUT monitors bills that might be damaging to members’ interests. NYSUT has fought to protect and improve the New York Taylor Law regarding our rights as employees to unionize. NYSUT’s full-time staff of legislative representatives maintain regular contact with elected officials. On NYSUT’s Higher Education Lobbying Day, attention focuses solely on SUNY and CUNY— including, of course, their community colleges.
Clearly, at NCC, increased New York state funding is important to faculty hiring and the quality of our programs; improved state funding might even allow NCC to lower its student tuition and fees. NYSUT and NYPIRG’s position is that the 2011 New York legislation “NY SUNY 2020” led to a stagnation in state funding, loss of full-time faculty, higher student tuition and fees, and dropping enrollment —- especially at community colleges. Base-funding calculations need to be revised to include mandatory operating costs.
Some Recent NYSUT legislative successes in Albany: SUNY, including its community colleges, received funding that averted the worst damage that COVID’s plummeting enrollment could have caused along with other new financial support: the 2023 New York State budget provided a funding floor to protect community colleges from the loss of $80 M in declining enrollment, $53 M to SUNY and community colleges to hire new faculty, and $150 M to expand part-time TAP to support part-time students in degree-seeking programs or non-degree training programs at community colleges.
Some NYSUT supported candidates who won in November’s elections: Gov. Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, Attorney General Letitia James; Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, New York State Senator Kevin Thomas, State Assemblymember David G. McDonough, Assemblymember John Mikulin, Assemblymember Ed Ra, and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages
Please contribute! Don’t leave it to a few to advance legislation that everyone needs.