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Guest M Thompson

Preventing a move to closed or executive session.

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Guest M Thompson

We have a Representative body that is contemplating taking an action that is against the membership wishes. They will go to executive session in order to cover their actions. Is there a way for members in attendance to prevent that and force them to conduct business in open session?

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30 minutes ago, Guest M Thompson said:

We have a Representative body that is contemplating taking an action that is against the membership wishes. They will go to executive session in order to cover their actions. Is there a way for members in attendance to prevent that and force them to conduct business in open session?

When you refer to "members in attendance", are you referring to members of the body which is meeting (presumably the board) or to general members of the organization who are sitting in on the board meeting?  Also, what type organization is this?  More information will be helpful.

Per the rules in  RONR, any deliberative assembly (including the board) may go into executive session upon a majority vote to to so.  People present who are not members of the body which is meeting have no say in the matter.

Note:  If this is a public body of some sort, such as a public school board, the state's open meetings law will probably place limitations on what can be done in executive session, what it takes to go into  executive session, etc.  Similar laws might apply in some  states to entities such as homeowner associations.

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Guest M Thompson

It is a Union meeting. The members elect representatives to conduct their business. The representatives in turn elect an administration to conduct day-to-day operations.In this case some of the representatives have a personal problem with the Chairman and want to remove him. The membership however is opposed to this action, but they have no voting status, they are merely attending the meeting. The representatives will attempt to take the meeting to executive session so they can do this without any witnesses. They probably don't have the 3/4 votes required, but there is a provision where a roll call vote can be done if they have 50%. Some of the representatives have very few votes and others have very large amounts and a simple majority is all that is required in a roll call. This means that they could potentially recall the Chairman with fewer than the required senatorial votes. We, as members want to prevent them from going to executive and making us leave the room.

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As Mr. Brown has said, only members of the representative body have a say in whether that body goes into executive session. If you are not a member of the representative body -- even if you are a member of the Union -- you do not have a say in that decision.

I don't understand the details that you discuss of a 3/4 vote versus only requiring a majority in a roll call; but that does not change the answer.

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Guest M Thompson

Thanks for the help. The provision for a roll call is where each representative can vote the number of members in their base. Our largest base has almost five thousand members split amongst four reps. The smallest has about 250 split between two reps. 19 total reps, but in a roll call they are not equal and therefore the largest bases can band together and out vote the rest. It is so lopsided that as few as 7-8 reps could get the required majority of roll call votes and prevail. I know it's a stupid system. It has come about over the last few years when the distribution of members in various bases has changed drastically. Thanks again.

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As this is a union, there may be laws with something to say on the matter. As a matter of parliamentary law, though, non-members (that is, of the body that is meeting) have no role in deciding whether or not to enter executive session - except that, if they're upset enough, they can vote out the board members, or perhaps even discipline them before an election.

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