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Why does Local 500 encourage its Members to donate to the
COPE (Committee On Political Education) fund? COPE money
is voluntarily donated money and is used for political purposes
and the IBEW Local 500, as well as Organized Labor in general,
is very active in the political process. Below is a reprint of an
article from Texas AFL-CIO Legal Director Rick Levy
explaining what COPE money as well as other money may be
used for in the political process.

Union Campaigning Has Special
by Rick Levy, Legal Director, Texas AFL-CIO

Under the theory that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
cure, and given that the election season is now in full swing, it's
time for a capsule review of the do's and don'ts of spending
Union money on political campaigns.

In this context, Unions have 2 kinds of money: dues money, also
known as treasury funds; and voluntary political contributions,
or COPE funds

The basic rule is that only COPE (Committee On Political
Education) money may be spent on political campaigns. This
includes contributions to candidates and any political activity
directed toward the general public like newspaper, TV or radio
advertising, bumper stickers, yard signs and mailings. It is a
violation of state and federal law to spend dues money on these

The restriction on political use of dues money includes not only
transfers of cash from the Union's treasury, but everything of
value that is paid for by the Union, such as office space,
equipment, phones, staff time and other overhead. You cannot
use dues money, for example, to buy tickets to candidate events or
for paid staff time to work for a candidate in activities directed at
the general public.

The big exception: Dues money may be used for political
activities aimed at communicating with Union members and their
families about candidates and issues. Under this exception, you
can sponsor non-partisan voter registration drives directed at
your members and their families. You can also give dues money to
Labor organizations like LCLAA, CBTU, and APRI for get
-out-the-vote activities.

In the same vein, dues money can be used for phone banks aimed
at members and their families urging support for candidates and
encouraging political participation. Leaflets, slate cards and
posters can be printed with dues money so long as they are aimed
at Union members and their families. Note, however, that the
candidates' own materials may not be included in these mailings.

Regular Union publications may also be used to communicate
the same political message. You may also use dues money to help
raise funds for COPE, so long as the cost of raising the money
does not exceed one-third of what is raised.

Now, a short primer on COPE money. The most important thing
to remember is that before the first nickel is raised, you must have
in place a political action committee with a duly appointed
treasurer. The committee must be formed in accordance with state
or federal law, depending on the election involved. All money
raised for COPE must be a voluntary contribution, with full
disclosure as to the nature of the contribution.

The most effective way to raise money is through the dues
checkoff. If your company has a PAC for management in any of
its subsidiaries, or for its stockholders, you are automatically
entitled to dues checkoff without having to negotiate it. Master
lists of companies with such PACs are available through the
Texas AFL-CIO. If the company has no PAC, you can negotiate
for dues checkoff as a contract item.


Contact the Union Hall to obtain a
COPE Deduction card and donate
to this very important fund. Next
year begins the mid-term election
cycle and Labors' endorsed
candidates are counting on us to
stand beside them so that they can
stand up for us at all branches of
our government.   

Political / Legislative