Committee on Political Education
The Committee on Political Education (COPE) was established in 1955 to encourage workers to participate in political activities. Shortly after the merger of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrialized Organizations (CIO), COPE was created by merging the CIO's Political Action Committee (PAC) with the AFL's Labor's League for Political Education (LLPE). This new group was tasked with “encouraging workers to register and vote, to exercise their full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”
COPE conducted research into legislative issues and politicians, organized grass-roots mobilization efforts to track the voting records of state and local legislators, interviewed and screened candidates running for office, and made endorsement recommendations to the AFL-CIO. COPE also worked directly with candidates for political office by providing financial contributions to those supportive of worker’s rights.
Focusing on union members and their families, COPE led registration drives, prepared public relations and education campaigns, and created and distributed publications about candidates and their positions on the issues affecting workers’ lives, such as health care, pension benefits, and safe working conditions.
Originally operating as a top-down organization within the AFL-CIO that shared information from a governing body to local chapters, COPE was later decentralized, eliminating the coordinating body for the local organizations. Local COPE chapters are still active across the United States.
Chicago, IL, January 1963. AFL-CIO records