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Okay, so if an organization has two types of members (A and B ), and Member type B is permitted to vote on everything except bylaws and matters dealing with finances, does that mean that Member B should be considered "out of order" if he/she tries to make and/or debate motions that deal with those particular topics?

(Hmmm. I have such a sense of deja vu...)

Louise

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Okay, so if an organization has two types of members (A and B ), and Member type B is permitted to vote on everything except bylaws and matters dealing with finances, does that mean that Member B should be considered "out of order" if he/she tries to make and/or debate motions that deal with those particular topics?

It depends upon how your bylaws are worded with respect to the rights held by the different classes of members. I recommend reading pages 588 through 591 of RONR, 11th edition. These principles can help you interpret the bylaws. These principles also will give you good ideas about how to craft your bylaws to avoid ambiguity.

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. . . does that mean that Member B should be considered "out of order" if he/she tries to make and/or debate motions that deal with those particular topics?

This question appears here frequently in a simplified form. Namely, can a "non-voting member" make motions and speak in debate? And there are two stock answers. The first is that RONR doesn't deal with "non-voting members" so you're on your own. The second is that if the right to vote is the only right of membership that's been removed, then all other rights remain.

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This question appears here frequently in a simplified form. Namely, can a "non-voting member" make motions and speak in debate? And there are two stock answers. The first is that RONR doesn't deal with "non-voting members" so you're on your own. The second is that if the right to vote is the only right of membership that's been removed, then all other rights remain.

The second answer usually results from applying the first answer, not because of something RONR says.

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When do you sleep?

Sleep is highly overrated.

No, it does not intrinsically mean that. (And actually I don't think RONR addresses this at all.)

Thank you, Mr. Tesser.

I did try to find something in RONR that addressed this, without avail.

The closest I came was page 3 of RONR ("A member...is a person entitled to full participation in its proceedings, that is, as explained in 3 and 4, teh right to attend meetings, to make motions, to speak in debate, and to vote. No member can be individually deprived of these basic rights of membership...except through disciplinary proceedings."

Of course, the next sentence continues on to discuss "additional 'classes' of membership that do not entail all of these rights." So that left me back where I had begun.

It depends upon how your bylaws are worded with respect to the rights held by the different classes of members. I recommend reading pages 588 through 591 of RONR, 11th edition. These principles can help you interpret the bylaws. These principles also will give you good ideas about how to craft your bylaws to avoid ambiguity.

Thank you, Mr. Schafer.

Yes, I've read this section (several times now, actually. :) ). Our proposed bylaws are very clear (I believe) about what the different types of members are and their corresponding rights and responsibilities. While they state that Member Type B cannot vote on bylaws or financial issues, they are silent on the concept of them making motions or speaking in debate on those topics. In the past, B-Type members have spoken in debate (which has not been a bad thing), but I can't recall them ever having made a motion on these topics.

I am perhaps getting ahead of myself here, in trying to anticipate possible future scenarios. I'd just rather be as prepared as possible instead of completey clueless, which until recently has been the modus operandi of most members, I'm afraid.

This question appears here frequently in a simplified form. Namely, can a "non-voting member" make motions and speak in debate? And there are two stock answers. The first is that RONR doesn't deal with "non-voting members" so you're on your own. The second is that if the right to vote is the only right of membership that's been removed, then all other rights remain.

Ah, thank you! "Non-voting member"! I didn't search for that term, so the previous threads I was finding were dealing with members/non-members.

The second answer usually results from applying the first answer, not because of something RONR says.

So it's a bylaw interpretation decided upon by the organization. Good enough. If it ever becomes an issue, we'll conduct a vote on what we want it to mean.

Thank you.

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The closest I came was page 3 of RONR ("A member...is a person entitled to full participation in its proceedings, that is, as explained in 3 and 4, teh right to attend meetings, to make motions, to speak in debate, and to vote. No member can be individually deprived of these basic rights of membership...except through disciplinary proceedings."

Of course, the next sentence continues on to discuss "additional 'classes' of membership that do not entail all of these rights." So that left me back where I had begun.

I'd say the key phrasing in the above is "entitled to full participation in its proceedings." While p. 3 does enumerate some of the rights of membership, you'll find a few others mixed in along the way, such as the right to make nominations, which is mentioned later along with some member rights. I am sadly sans livre aujourd'hui, so I can't cite a page for you. The core to this is either you are a "member" (with all attendant rights of membership), or you are a "non-member" with no rights. If you wish to create a grey area in between, it would be best to offer full and explicit details. Thus, if your bylaws will note that Member Type B's rights are restricted in some way (i.e. cannot vote on bylaw amendment motions), the rules should include what rights are retained (attend meetings, make motions including bylaw amendments, speak in debate on all motions, etc.). And be cautioned against the common phrasing of "voice but no vote", since RONR will offer no definition of what "voice" means, and you'll be back here asking what that means too! :)

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Rather than listing all the retained membership rights (and probably forgetting one or two) it seems sufficient to say something like "Associate members [or however you want to identify them] shall have all membership rights except that of voting" and you could even go on to say that he can vote for some issues (very carefully defined) and not for others.

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If you wish to create a grey area in between, it would be best to offer full and explicit details. Thus, if your bylaws will note that Member Type B's rights are restricted in some way (i.e. cannot vote on bylaw amendment motions), the rules should include what rights are retained (attend meetings, make motions including bylaw amendments, speak in debate on all motions, etc.). And be cautioned against the common phrasing of "voice but no vote", since RONR will offer no definition of what "voice" means, and you'll be back here asking what that means too!

We've tried our best to do that. We think we've done pretty well. We think.

Although I'm also willing to bet that in ten years, the new bylaws committee will be cleaning up our - currently unnoticed - mess. (And ten years after that, another new bylaws committee will clean up their mess. And so on, and so on...)

And be cautioned against the common phrasing of "voice but no vote", since RONR will offer no definition of what "voice" means, and you'll be back here asking what that means too!

I'm not currently familiar with that phrase, but if it comes up at the bylaws meeting, I'll be sure to keep that in mind. I know we've already had a request to change the notice of special meetings from "at least 8 days" to "at least 8 working days". My instincts are suggesting to me that such a change would not be favorable. (What exactly is a "working day"? Perhaps "business day" would work, but if the organization thinks more notice needs to be given, then why not just increase the number of days instead of adding a potentially ambiguous qualifying term?)

Rather than listing all the retained membership rights (and probably forgetting one or two) it seems sufficient to say something like "Associate members [or however you want to identify them] shall have all membership rights except that of voting" and you could even go on to say that he can vote for some issues (very carefully defined) and not for others.

That might be easier, except that in addition to not being able to vote on matters involving the bylaws or finacial issues, they aren't allowed to hold office either. I'll have to mull that possibility over a bit.

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I know we've already had a request to change the notice of special meetings from "at least 8 days" to "at least 8 working days". My instincts are suggesting to me that such a change would not be favorable. (What exactly is a "working day"? Perhaps "business day" would work, but if the organization thinks more notice needs to be given, then why not just increase the number of days instead of adding a potentially ambiguous qualifying term?)

That seems to make more sense. Some people work weekends and holidays. Others don't do "business" on Mondays (barbers for one). So, just count days, make sure there are enough for notice to reach everyone, and remember that nothing guarantees receipt or reading of notice. You determine how far in advance the notice must be sent only.

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That seems to make more sense. Some people work weekends and holidays. Others don't do "business" on Mondays (barbers for one). So, just count days, make sure there are enough for notice to reach everyone, and remember that nothing guarantees receipt or reading of notice. You determine how far in advance the notice must be sent only.

Right. Which is why the bylaws should state that notice will be sent "at least eight days" prior to the meeting as opposed to being "delivered" at least eight days prior, yes?

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Our proposed bylaws are very clear (I believe) about what the different types of members are and their corresponding rights and responsibilities. While they state that Member Type B cannot vote on bylaws or financial issues, they are silent on the concept of them making motions or speaking in debate on those topics.

What sounds clear upon initial reading often turns murky down the road when different folks read it and take a different slant on it. Often the less said the better and by creating an alternate class of membership raises lots of questions, some of which aren't apparent at the start, um, apparently.

RONR p568 (ll 3-5) states "in order to give the organization the greatest freedom to act within its object, bylaws should be made no more restrictive nor more detailed in specification than necessary"

Close one loophole and you're probably creating three more.

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What sounds clear upon initial reading often turns murky down the road when different folks read it and take a different slant on it. Often the less said the better and by creating an alternate class of membership raises lots of questions, some of which aren't apparent at the start, um, apparently.

RONR p568 (ll 3-5) states "in order to give the organization the greatest freedom to act within its object, bylaws should be made no more restrictive nor more detailed in specification than necessary"

Close one loophole and you're probably creating three more.

Good food for thought. Thank you.

Unfortunately we're not creating another class of membership; our associate members have always existed. I'm guessing that the suggestion to do away with them would not go over well...particuarly with our associate members themselves. :(

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  • 1 month later...

Not sure if it applies to the above topic, but is an associate without full rights allowed to be a full member of the parent organizations auxiliary?

As you suspected, it works best if you start a new topic for a new question, even if it seems to be related to an existing question. It's easier for us to respond to your question without getting the old one muddled in.

RONR gives the rules for members, all of whom have full membership rights. If your organization does things differently, we're not going to be able to give you a good answer, since RONR does not give us a simple rule. Membership classes and the rights held by each should be defined in the bylaws (or constitution, if that is a separate document) of your organization, the parent organization and the parent organization's auxiliary. Hopefully you'll find your answers there. (Don't post them or snippets of them here; we still can't give you an informed answer without reviewing your bylaws in full, and we stick to RONR here.)

When you do read the bylaws, if there are any parts that are ambiguous, there is some guidance in RONR to help figure out what they mean. See pages 588 through 591 in the 11th edition.

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