Emily Blatt made increasing contributions to the Committee on Political Education (COPE), the UFT’s political action arm, her first priority when she became chapter leader at University Neighborhood HS in September 2018.
At the time, only 49% of the 45 members at the small high school on Manhattan’s Lower East Side contributed to COPE. Thanks to Blatt’s efforts, today 89% contribute.
“As a new chapter leader, I focused my first chapter meeting on COPE and distributed a COPE card to each member who was not a contributor with each one’s name on it,” she explained.
Blatt, a science teacher for 12 years, reported a “positive” response when she collected the cards at the end of the meeting. Then she followed up in person with every UFT member who was not in attendance.
With a COPE card in hand, she met with each member and explained how voluntary COPE contributions — not union dues — are used to finance the UFT’s efforts to secure public school funding, protect pensions and win pro-education legislation.
“Members are always more willing to participate when they know where their money is going,” Blatt said.
Johnluis Damakos was one of the members who signed up for COPE after Blatt’s first membership meeting. He said it was her “charisma” and “her honesty in explaining the benefits of COPE and its importance for education” that prompted him to sign on.
Following her success in improving COPE participation, Blatt surveyed the members of her chapter to find out what issues were most important to them. Then she invited guest speakers who could address those issues to her chapter meetings.
It’s all part of her strategy to make members aware of the ways in which the union and the DOE-UFT contract support them.
“Now members bring issues to me, and we make sure the contract is followed,” she said.