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Queens bowling event

Fast lane to COPE contributions

New York Teacher
Woman cheers for bowling team
Erica Berger
HS for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture Chapter Leader Monique Lee lets out a cheer for her bowling team.
Teachers cheer on colleagues
Erica Berger
Teachers Nena Kunnateerachadalai (seated) and Joanna Lu (standing, left) and school secretary Janine Esposito cheer on their East-West School of International Studies colleagues.

Camaraderie and political activism brought together more than 300 UFT members from 48 Queens schools for a bowling event at Flushing’s Whitestone Lanes on Nov. 1.

The social event was a fundraiser for COPE, the UFT Committee on Political Education, which communicates UFT priorities to legislators and helps promote candidates who support UFT members.

Shane Sweeting, a teacher at Martin Van Buren HS and a union member for 15 years, said “the union fights for all of us” in many ways. But he didn’t realize union dues do not fund political action until his chapter leader invited him to the bowling event.

Ken Mengani, the chapter leader at World Journalism Preparatory School, said this misconception about COPE funding is the “most common conversation” about the program he has with members.

“COPE is incredibly important,” Sweeting said, so “I signed up right away.”

Queens UFT members at the event or in the weeks leading up to it, in the COPE drive in schools, contributed an additional $13,000 in annual COPE contributions.

The bowling night was also an opportunity for fellowship among UFT members.

Debbie Albano-Seltenreich, a school counselor at Queens HS of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences, said the event was “a great way to end the week and hang out with your colleagues.”

It created “an atmosphere where you could relax and talk to UFT reps and realize they’re there for you,” said Elizabeth Holmes, a teacher at the East-West School of International Studies. She also appreciated the opportunity to “see people from other schools.”

Sweeting said seeing that “teachers in other buildings are going through the same thing you’re going through” made him realize “we’re not alone.”

UFT Special Representative Washington Sanchez, who hosted the event with Queens HS District Representative James Vasquez, said the event demonstrated “the power of the union and the role each of us has.”

Related Topics: Political Action