Dana Cope on being Bi-Partisan

Dana Cope is the Executive Director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC). In his position with SEANC, he is expected to interact with North Carolina state legislators to protect the interests of state employees and retirees. SEANC lobbies politicians through its SuperPAC, the Employees Political Action Committee (EMPAC), by publicly endorsing certain candidates and in some cases even running advertisements on their behalf. Before an election, a committee of state employees generally sits down and conducts interviews with political candidates to determine how their political leanings align with issues important to state employees. From these interviews the committee is able to make its endorsements.

Dana Cope and the SEANC make endorsements by staying loyal to the rights and interests of state employees rather than being loyal to any particular political party. This means that SEANC endorsements are generally bi-partisan, which allows them to work with both parties in the North Carolina General Assembly to have a say in new legislation. The SEANC’s track record of working across the aisle was recognized in 2011 during a dispute over payroll collection of dues.

An article in the News and Observer explained that at the time, the North Carolina Republican-led General Assembly interacted differently with two different employee unions. The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), which is the state’s main lobbying group for teachers, was ignored by state legislators as they worked on a bill that would bar payroll deduction of dues for NCAE members. However, members of SEANC were actually asked to participate in key negotiations over dues checkoff for SEANC members.

Dana Cope and SEANC managed to have a say in the legislature’s activities due to the goodwill it had earned from endorsing Republican candidates including 2004 gubernatorial candidate Patrick Ballantine.

As long as SEANC is led by Dana Cope, the organization will continue to maintain a bi-partisan working relationship with elected officials.

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Save the American Dream Rally

In 2011 Wisconsin governor Scott Walker introduced Assembly Bill 11 to the Wisconsin State Assembly. This bill aimed to prevent a budget shortfall by collecting additional government funds. These funds would be raised by busting state employee unions, primarily eliminating their collective bargaining power as it pertained to pensions, health care, and pay raises for state employees. This sparked a series of protests on both sides of the political spectrum including a series of “Save the American Dream” rallies in support of state union workers.

Dana Cope is the Executive Director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC), SEIU Local 2008, so he understands the importance of collective bargaining. For this reason, Dana Cope was asked to speak at the Raleigh, North Carolina “Save the American Dream Rally.” Dana Cope arrived dressed in red and white to show solidarity for the striking workers in Wisconsin, and exclaimed that it was time for a revolution.  During his 10 minute speech, Dana Cope made the case for continuing collective bargaining rights and demanded an end to corporate welfare at the expense of state workers.

View the full speech by Dana Cope below:

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Dana Cope workplace safety

In his position as Executive Director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC), Dana Cope currently fights for state employee rights like fair pay, benefits, and one of the most fundamental workplace rights: workplace safety.  Workplace safety is the focus of occupational safety and health (OSH), which is a discipline that focuses on protecting the safety, health, and welfare for employees. Federal legislation has helped to make American workplaces safer by regulating safety equipment (helmets, face masks, yellow vests, etc. when necessary), and by conducting inspections of American workplaces. These inspections are handled by the Department of Labor.

Dana Cope became involved with the enforcement of workplace safety when he accepted a position with the North Carolina Department of Labor in 1992.  Dana Cope worked as the Director of Governmental Affairs, which meant that he frequently collaborated with the Commissioner of Labor. Dana Cope managed senior staff at the Raleigh office and determined budgetary priorities while coordinating activities involving the US Congress and North Carolina General Assembly.  Dana Cope also helped develop the legislative agenda for the Department of Labor, identifying additional workplace safety issues for the organization to advocate.

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Dana Cope Department of Labor

The North Carolina Department of Labor is a government agency located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Department of Labor states that its mission is to make North Carolina a better place to work and live. The Department of Labor upholds this mission by settling labor rules and regulations while overseeing areas as diverse as elevator compliance and workplace safety. In 1992 Dana Cope accepted the position of Director of Governmental Affairs with the Department of Labor.

During his time with the Department of Labor, Dana Cope was in charge of directing organizational activities involving the US Congress and the North Carolina General Assembly. Dana Cope was also heavily involved in developing the Department of Labor’s strategic plan, and he worked alongside the Commissioner of Labor to develop a legislative agenda for the Department of Labor. Additionally, Dana Cope played a part in the Department of Labor’s day-to-day operations by collaborating with the Commissioner of Labor to create a budget and managing senior staff.

Dana Cope held this position until 2000, when he accepted the role of Executive Director with the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC).

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SEANC

The State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) is the largest southern state employees’ association. The SEANC uses tools like the Employees Political Action Committee (EMPAC) and membership dues to maintain and improve employee pay, healthcare, retirement security, and workplace rights. The current SEANC leader is Executive Director Dana Cope.

Dana Cope oversees the SEANC’s 40 staff members from the Raleigh office. This allows Dana Cope to oversee political lobbying efforts in the North Carolina General Assembly and serve as chief media spokesman for the 55,000 members of SEANC. While with SEANC, Dana Cope has been responsible for numerous victories, including:

  • Sued the governor over $130 million in escrowed retirement funds, recovered the funds, and then facilitated the repayment of these funds
  • Improved SEANC’s political lobbying efforts by building EMPAC from the 276th largest lobbying organization in North Carolina in 2002 to 11th largest in 2008
  • Strengthened the SEANC by affiliating with the State Employees International Union (SEIU)

Dana Cope continues to prioritize the SEANC’s affiliation with the SEIU and even serves as the Vice-President of the SEIU. This allows Dana Cope to better coordinate efforts between the two organizations.

Dana Cope currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife and their two sons.

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About

Dana Cope has been working in the political realm for many years. His political career actually began while he was still attending Southern Methodist University (SMU) and decided to start his own business. Cope & Associates Political Consultants was launched in 1988 in Washington, DC, and it operated as a strategic political consultant firm for four years. During that time, Dana Cope oversaw fundraising, phone banks, and press relations for candidates like Harry Payne, Bob Kerrey, and Bruce Sundlun.

Dana Cope graduated from SMU in 1991, and one year later he left Washington, DC to accept the position of Director of Governmental Affairs with the North Carolina Department of Labor. With the North Carolina Department of Labor, Dana Cope managed senior staff in the Raleigh office, advised the Commissioner of Labor on financial and policy matters, and directed government related activities before the US Congress and North Carolina General Assembly.

In 2000 Dana Cope transitioned to the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) to serve as the Executive Director. From the SEANC’s Raleigh office, Dana Cope fights for North Carolina state employees and retirees to protect and improve their benefits and pay. So far in his time with the SEANC, Dana Cope has protected premium-free healthcare, secured the largest back-to-back pay increases in 2005 and 2006, and affiliated SEANC with the State Employees International Union (SEIU).

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Dana Cope

Dana Cope is the Executive Director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC). He has held this position since 2000.

Dana Cope not only serves as the voice of thousands of state employees and retirees in North Carolina but also fights for fair pay and benefits. During his tenure, Dana Cope has secured many victories for state employees and retirees.

For instance, Dana Cope strengthened the SEANC’s voice by affiliating with SEIU in 2008. Also, Dana Cope grew the SEANC’s political action committee EMPAC from the 276th largest political action group to the 11th largest.

Dana Cope also secured victories for state employees. He maintained premium-free healthcare for members and secured the largest back-to-back pay increases in a two decade span during 2005 and 2006.

Today Dana Cope continues to work with the SEANC in North Carolina’s capital, Raleigh.

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Dana Cope

Dana Cope

Dana Cope has led the SEANC to many victories during his tenure.

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