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Guest Aaron

Union Robert's Rule question

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Guest Aaron

Hi, I have a question about some issues that have arose in the Union that I am a member of at my job. The Company that I work for offered their Insurance/Retirement package to us instead of the Union package that we currently have. A special meeting was scheduled to vote on this topic. Information has been limited from our Union Stewards and Committee on the offered plan but with more research, it was a much better deal than what we currently have. The day that we voted, we were given a presentation by the Union and some Union Lawyers about the new plan. We were given quite a bit of false information and were not given any time to research because the vote was held at that meeting. There was also no roster and not accountability for the meeting. We voted by a "show of hands" and there were 5 or 6 people counting and they only counted once. There were also guys that had gotten out of the Union there that voted against the plan as well. Insurance and Retirement is a big issue and should have been a ballot vote. The Chairman and Co-chairman both gave their opinions and were biased against the plan which I believe the Chairman has to stay neutral under Robert's Law. The Plan did not pass but the difference was only about 18 votes or so we were told. The Chairman admitted after the meeting that false information was given to us during the Special Meeting and Vote. I started a petition online to call a Special Meeting to ask for a "revote" and only needed 20 people but got 80 in just 2 hours. I was told my petition would not be accepted because they were not actual signatures and they would not accept a revote. Due to the false information, and lack of a roster, would this vote be Null and Void? If so, where can I find it referenced in Robert's Rule of Order so I can present it to them? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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Making a decision based on false information isn't in-of-itself enough to render the vote invalid (under RONR).  However,  you all should definitely look into what actions can be taken against those people who supplied that information (see FAQ #20 regarding officers who took part in it).  As for you calling the Special Meeting and it being denied you will need to look to the exact language regarding how to call one to make sure all "T"s were crossed and all "i"s were dotted.

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Guest Zev
3 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

We were given quite a bit of false information and were not given any time to research because the vote was held at that meeting.

Your union is not forced to accept anything right then and there. The issue at hand can be postponed to the next meeting or referred to a committee for study and instructed to report at a future date, even a date beyond the next meeting if needed. But it cannot otherwise be postponed beyond the next meeting.

3 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

There was also no roster and not accountability for the meeting.

I think I know what "no roster" probably means, but perhaps you should explain this and what "not accountability" means.

3 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

There were also guys that had gotten out of the Union there that voted against the plan as well.

If it is known that non-members have voted and their votes have not made a difference in the outcome then the vote stands. But if the non-member's votes could have made a difference in either the adoption or rejection of the motion then the vote is null and void and must be retaken.

3 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

Insurance and Retirement is a big issue and should have been a ballot vote.

If you believe this then the proper method is to move that the vote be taken by ballot while the motion is pending.

3 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

The Chairman and Co-chairman both gave their opinions and were biased against the plan which I believe the Chairman has to stay neutral under Robert's Law.

Yes, normally the chairman should remain impartial while presiding. If he wishes to make a statement in debate then he should relinquish the chair to either the vice-president or conduct an election of a chairman pro tempore.

3 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

The Plan did not pass but the difference was only about 18 votes or so we were told.

There is such a thing as a counted rising vote. The exact count should be recorded in the minutes. If no count is performed then you can move that the vote be retaken as a rising counted vote, but only immediately after the result is announced by chairman. If you delay and a new item of business is announced, then it is too late.

Also, since the motion was rejected it appears as though no lasting harm has occurred. The same plan or a different plan may be presented at the next meeting.

3 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

The Chairman admitted after the meeting that false information was given to us during the Special Meeting and Vote.

Now this is more serious. Whenever the chairman admits that false information was given to the assembly then this suggests the possibility of some disciplinary procedure against the chairman for allowing this event to take place. The seriousness of it will determine the level of discipline to be administered. The fact that the motion was not adopted and could be re-introduced in the future does not influence any contemplated disciplinary procedure in any way.

3 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

I started a petition online to call a Special Meeting to ask for a "revote" and only needed 20 people but got 80 in just 2 hours. I was told my petition would not be accepted because they were not actual signatures and they would not accept a revote.

I cannot say whether your petition should have been accepted or not. Examine the bylaws carefully about the requirements as to petitions. It may be that the bylaws require an actual piece of paper with the voters signatures on it.

3 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

Due to the false information, and lack of a roster, would this vote be Null and Void?

Again, the false information is a serious matter and the "lack of roster," whatever that is, seems to be a procedural issue. I see nothing that would suggest that the vote to reject the motion should be changed to one of adopting the motion due to these matters.

3 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

If so, where can I find it referenced in Robert's Rule of Order so I can present it to them?

We have touched on a different number of issues that span quite a bit of material. Perhaps reading a copy of this thread instead would be enough. Please come back if you need specific quotes. Be aware that there are experts in this field that may have a different take on what I have said, or even remind me of details I missed. Stay tuned for their observations.

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6 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

I started a petition online to call a Special Meeting to ask for a "revote" and only needed 20 people but got 80 in just 2 hours. I was told my petition would not be accepted because they were not actual signatures and they would not accept a revote.

 

2 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

I cannot say whether your petition should have been accepted or not. Examine the bylaws carefully about the requirements as to petitions. It may be that the bylaws require an actual piece of paper with the voters signatures on it.

Because this is a union, there are likely laws that also should be reviewed (with a lawyer) to see whether the petition should be accepted.

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Thank you to everyone who has responded. My next question. I’m delivering a petition with 30 hand written signatures tomorrow to the weekly meeting to request a special meeting to possibly amend the bylaws and talk about rescinding a revote. Can a motion be made by someone like myself, who is just a paying member or does it have to be made by a committee member? 

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Your bylaws will say who is able to petition / request a Special Meeting. You mentioned earlier that it required 20 signatures but didn't give us any more details on what the bylaws actually say. The exact wording of your petition is important because "The only business that can be transacted at a special meeting is that which has been specified in the call of the meeting." (page 93, lines 3-4).

You should carefully read pages 91-93 because it is detailed and can be confusing. Although the notice of the special meeting doesn't need to give the exact content of the motion that will be considered (page 93, lines 15-18), if you are proposing an amendment to the bylaws, they usually require that notice.

The motion to Rescind Something Previously Adopted can be moved by anybody who is entitled to make a motion at the special meeting. You should read pages 305-310.

By the way, someone may try to say that the special meeting doesn't have the authority to actually amend the bylaws or rescind the motion that was previously adopted; this depends on the exact wording of the petition, where you say the purpose is to "talk about rescinding a revote." Given your description of the earlier meeting, I wouldn't be surprised if someone says that the special meeting is only authorized to talk about rescinding, not to actually rescind anything.

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Guest Aaron
On 5/28/2019 at 1:05 AM, Atul Kapur said:

Your bylaws will say who is able to petition / request a Special Meeting. You mentioned earlier that it required 20 signatures but didn't give us any more details on what the bylaws actually say. The exact wording of your petition is important because "The only business that can be transacted at a special meeting is that which has been specified in the call of the meeting." (page 93, lines 3-4).

You should carefully read pages 91-93 because it is detailed and can be confusing. Although the notice of the special meeting doesn't need to give the exact content of the motion that will be considered (page 93, lines 15-18), if you are proposing an amendment to the bylaws, they usually require that notice.

The motion to Rescind Something Previously Adopted can be moved by anybody who is entitled to make a motion at the special meeting. You should read pages 305-310.

By the way, someone may try to say that the special meeting doesn't have the authority to actually amend the bylaws or rescind the motion that was previously adopted; this depends on the exact wording of the petition, where you say the purpose is to "talk about rescinding a revote." Given your description of the earlier meeting, I wouldn't be surprised if someone says that the special meeting is only authorized to talk about rescinding, not to actually rescind anything.

Thank you so much for your reply. I’ve gained a ton of knowledge just from reading through the forum. Our bylaws are so vague and without detail and they have not been amended since 2002. The bylaws still have the heading of the company that previously owned us. We were bought out in 2005. I brought the petition with actual signatures to the weekly meeting last night. The guys on the committee know absolutely nothing about Robert’s Rule of Order and when I gave them the petition requesting the Special meeting and requesting a motion to rescind the vote, they had no clue what i was talking about. They tried to say it could only be rescinded the day of or day after the vote and had to be done from someone of the prevailing side of the vote. I quickly spoke up and told them that they are describing the motion to reconsider not the motion to rescind. Several of the guys on the board agreed with how biased and unfair the information was and how the vote took place. They agreed that the misinformation did probably sway the vote. They tried to say that I was just upset because the vote didn’t go my way but I told them that that is far from the truth. I do not care which way the results go as long as it’s fair. I’ve been a loser all my life! I’m a good loser! But I want to lose fairly and not cheated! 

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Guest Zev
1 hour ago, Guest Aaron said:

I quickly spoke up and told them that they are describing the motion to reconsider not the motion to rescind.

As one character on The Big Bang says, "Bazinga!"

1 hour ago, Guest Aaron said:

I’ve been a loser all my life! I’m a good loser! But I want to lose fairly and not cheated! 

Those that request that the rules be followed are not losers. You are one of us now. Welcome.

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Sounds like you did everything properly.

2 hours ago, Guest Aaron said:

They tried to say that I was just upset because the vote didn’t go my way

Even if this were true, it doesn't affect the validity of what you're doing. They shouldn't comment on this during debate, either. Under Decorum in Debate, members are advised to "REFRAINING FROM ATTACKING A MEMBER’S MOTIVES. When a question is pending, a member can condemn the nature or likely consequences of the proposed measure in strong terms, but he must avoid personalities, and under no circumstances can he attack or question the motives of another member. The measure, not the member, is the
subject of debate." (p. 392, lines 12-18).

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Guest Aaron Bush

Thank you gentlemen for all of your help. I turned in the petition for a special meeting on May 28. Today is July 15 and I still have not heard anything about a special meeting. No one can give me any information. Is there a certain time limit that the Union Committee has to schedule this meeting? What’s sad is the committee knows less about Robert’s Rule than I do. I feel like something isn't adding up and they are stalling. 

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Those details should be in the Bylaws.  I would also suggest you check to see if there are any higher levels of the Union (Regional, State, Federal?) and laws or agencies governing your Union who can put more pressure on them than a single member.

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On 5/28/2019 at 12:14 AM, A-A-Ron said:

I’m delivering a petition with 30 hand written signatures tomorrow to the weekly meeting to request a special meeting to possibly amend the bylaws and talk about rescinding a revote.

Since the original motion was defeated, there is nothing to rescind. The motion is simply made anew.

On 5/28/2019 at 1:05 AM, Atul Kapur said:

The motion to Rescind Something Previously Adopted can be moved by anybody who is entitled to make a motion at the special meeting. You should read pages 305-310.

Since the original motion was defeated, however, the motion to Rescind is not applicable.

On 5/28/2019 at 12:14 AM, A-A-Ron said:

Can a motion be made by someone like myself, who is just a paying member or does it have to be made by a committee member? 

The motion to approve the plan can be made by any member of the assembly that is meeting.

Edited by Josh Martin

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