2024 First Working Class Unity Bylaw Review

Article X, Section 7: Every six months, the Steering Committee shall review the Bylaws, recommend changes, and recommend changes to the Membership Pipeline to clarify knowledge and skills that need to be transferred and delegated.

All members may use this space to discuss Working Class Unity Bylaws.

During the 2023-12-21 WCU Steering Committee Meeting, we set a meeting on January 8th (6-7pm) to discuss the Bylaws, if anyone wants to join that. But Members should feel free to set up their own meeting times as well, just let me or @Robert_H know if you’d like a review session added to the calendar.

@chima @Robert_H Please update the calendar to include these meetings scheduled by @WCU_Steering.

We should consider changing bylaws that require X number of people to a % of the average attendance of the last Y months. That way, the numbers will continue to make sense no matter how much our membership grows/falls.

ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP, SECTION 2: GOOD STANDING, Subsections A, B and D

Members shall be considered in good standing if their dues are paid in full, allowing for a 30-day grace period.

Members in good standing must attend at least one regular meeting per year.

Members in good standing shall possess full voting rights, may hold any office or serve any committee, and may propose business to the membership at any time.

-Until we have dues established, I think we should add another component as part of our requirements to be a member in good standing. It doesn’t seem fair that, under the current criteria, someone can show up to one General Meeting and otherwise be absent–not contribute or participate in the organization in any meaningful way–for the remainder of the year and still have full voting rights to influence what we do and say as an organization. This isn’t about making things difficult for people. But it should mean something more to be a Working Class Unity member in good standing. And when we set the standard low, we hollow out what it means to be part of a member-driven, democratic political organization committed to advancing the cause of socialism.
-For clarification, does a new member have full voting rights at their first meeting? For example, could a new member pay their dues and cast votes for elections if that happens to be on the agenda during their first meeting? Or would they have to wait until after their first meeting to satisfy the attendance criteria under Subsection B?

ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP, SECTION 6: NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY

-There are already laws in place that render this section redundant and unnecessary.

ARTICLE IV. GOVERNANCE, SECTION 3: QUORUM

A quorum of 10% of the membership in good standing is required for General Meetings.

-Based on my count, we have 12 Working Class Unity members in good standing (Harpreet, Adri, Alyssa, Christine, Denis, Reilly, Joanna, Lucas, Roby, Chris, Sandra and myself). Ten percent of 12 is 1.2 (or two people if we round up). Two people, on their own, should not be able to hold and conduct business at a General Meeting.

ARTICLE IV. GOVERNANCE, SECTION 5: ORDER OF BUSINESS

-The Order of Business in the Bylaws…


…differs from the Order of Business in the presentation slides for General Meetings.

Also, there are two sections designated as Section 5 under Article IV, so things will have to be renumbered.

ARTICLE IV. GOVERNANCE, SECTION 5: PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY

Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, shall govern Working Class Unity in all applicable cases and in instances where they are not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order that WCU may adopt.

-Robert’s Rules are not fully understood and applied. Our Bylaws should be a reflection of what we are comfortable and willing to practice. We should reference Robert’s Rules as a guide rather than have it as a strict requirement if we are not going to enforce it. I propose amending the section to say: Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, shall [serve as a guide for] Working Class Unity in all applicable cases and in instances where they are not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order that WCU may adopt.

ARTICLE VIII: NON-CAMPAIGN ACTIVITIES

Non-campaign activities may also include a limited range of other actions subject to chapter approval.

-This should say subject to membership approval, not chapter approval, since Working Class Unity doesn’t have chapters/isn’t a chapter of a larger organization.

There will be a Bylaw Review Meeting tomorrow, January 17th at 6:30pm via Zoom. See calendar.

During the meetings, we discussed the following Bylaw modifications. They will be presented at the next General Meeting on 2024-02-01T08:00:00Z; we will take a vote on passing the bylaws on the General Meeting on 2024-03-01T08:00:00Z. Thank you @collectivestruggle for the write up on most of these.

The current bylaws can be seen here: WCU Bylaws - Google Docs

ARTICLE II. MISSION

Current Text:
Working Class Unity is a member-driven, democratic political organization committed to advancing the cause of socialism openly within San Joaquin County. We are recruiting, educating, and supporting activists who will join the fight for working class power. We want to forge alliances between labor and tenant unions and social movements. It will not be quick or easy, but we believe that workers fighting for one another can build a movement for socialism and build a better world.

Proposed Draft:
Working Class Unity is a member-driven, democratic organization committed to the open advancement of socialism. We prioritize the recruitment, education, and support of people committed to advocating for working-class power. Our mission is to forge alliances between labor, community, and social movements. We acknowledge that our objectives will not be achieved quickly or easily. We are dedicated to the journey ahead, confident that through solidarity and collective action, we can build a robust movement for socialism and create a better world for all.

Description of Changes:
The proposed revision removes geographic limitations that may have limited our broader

, emphasizes the organization’s commitment to recruitment, education, and support by prioritizing these activities, and broadens the scope of potential alliances by including community groups alongside labor and social movements.

The revised text acknowledges the long-term challenges inherent in the mission while expressing a confident and inspiring vision of solidarity and collective action. The changes aim to create a more inclusive and aspirational mission statement that aligns with WCU’s core values and strategic objectives.

ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP | SECTION 2: GOOD STANDING | Subsections A, B, and D

Current Text:
A. Dues: Members shall be considered in good standing if their dues are paid in full, allowing for a 30-day grace period.
B. Attendance: Members in good standing must attend at least one regular meeting per year.
D. Residency: Members in good standing must reside, work, or attend school in San Joaquin County, California.

Proposed Draft:
A. Dues: Members are considered in good standing immediately upon full payment of their dues. A grace period of 30 days is provided for late payments, during which members retain their good standing status. After the grace period, members who have not paid their dues will no longer be in good standing.

B. Attendance: To maintain good standing, members must attend at least one regular meeting within each year following the payment of their initial dues. A member’s good standing status is unaffected by meeting attendance until the lapse of one year without attending a meeting.

D. Residency: Members in good standing must reside, work, or attend school or a place of worship in San Joaquin County, California.

Description of Changes:
This revision clarifies that good standing is immediately conferred upon payment of dues and that the grace period applies specifically to late payments. It also specifies that attendance at a meeting is required once per year to maintain good standing, with the countdown beginning after dues payment. Additionally, the term “place of worship” has been added to the residency eligibility criteria to reflect a broader inclusion of community involvement.

SECTION 4: CENSURE AND REMOVAL OF MEMBERS

Current Text:
In the event that a member is found to be in significant violation of WCU’s Code of Conduct, the Steering Committee may recommend censure or expulsion for specific offenses (see Code of Conduct Section X). Censure or expulsion must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the membership at a General Meeting. A vote for censure or expulsion may also be initiated if a member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the organization’s principles or policies, engages in entryist behavior, or acts under the discipline of another organization.

Proposed Draft:
In the event that a member is found to be in significant violation of WCU’s Code of Conduct, any Member or the Steering Committee may put forth a recommendation for censure or expulsion, citing specific offenses as outlined in the Code of Conduct (see Article VI: Prohibited Behavior). Such a recommendation must be ratified by a two-thirds majority vote of eligible members at a General Meeting. Additionally, any Member or the Steering Committee member may initiate a vote for censure or expulsion at the subsequent General Meeting if a member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the organization’s principles or policies, engages in entryist behavior, or acts under the discipline of another organization.

Description of Changes:
The proposed draft expands the ability to recommend censure or expulsion for violations of the Code of Conduct to include any member, in addition to the Steering Committee. It also clarifies that both individual members and the Steering Committee can initiate a censure or expulsion vote at the next General Meeting.

SECTION 5: DISCLOSURES

Current Text:
Members seeking a position on the Steering Committee of WCU must disclose their employment as a law enforcement officer, managerial authority in their workplace, or human resources personnel, due to their explicit role in disciplining the working class. Members must also disclose if they are landlords, defined herein as individuals deriving a majority of their income from residential rent for properties they own but do not personally occupy. Furthermore, members are required to disclose if they serve on the Board of a non-profit organization that collects over $50,000 in grants and contributions annually.

Proposed Draft:
All members are required to disclose any employment as a law enforcement officer, supervisorial authority as defined by the National Labor Relations Act in their workplace, or as human resources personnel, due to the potential for direct involvement in disciplining the working class. Additionally, members must disclose if they are landlords, specifically if they derive a majority of their income from residential rent for properties they own but do not personally occupy. Members must also disclose if they hold a position on the Board or any leadership role in a non-profit organization that receives over $50,000 in grants and contributions annually. The Secretary is tasked with collecting these disclosures and maintaining a record that is readily available for review by any member in good standing, without the need for a request to the Steering Committee.

Description of Changes:
The proposed amendment broadens the scope of mandatory disclosures to include all members, not just those seeking Steering Committee positions, ensuring greater transparency within the organization. It refines the definition of employment positions by citing the National Labor Relations Act and focusing on roles with direct disciplinary power over the working class. Additionally, the amendment requires members to disclose leadership roles in any non-profit organization that collects significant funding, thereby addressing potential conflicts of interest more comprehensively. The revision also designates the Secretary as responsible for collecting and maintaining these disclosures, ensuring that any member in good standing can review this information freely and without seeking permission from the Steering Committee.

SECTION 6: PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY

Current Text:
Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, shall govern Working Class Unity in all applicable cases and in instances where they are not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order that WCU may adopt.

Proposed Draft:
Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, shall serve as the guiding framework for the members of Working Class Unity in all applicable situations, except in cases where they conflict with these bylaws, any special rules of order adopted by WCU, or the established customs and traditional practices of the organization. These practices must ensure fair and democratic proceedings and must not contradict these bylaws or any special rules of order.

Description of Changes:
The proposed draft clarifies that Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, will be used as a guiding framework rather than strict governance for the proceedings of Working Class Unity. It acknowledges the organization’s established customs and traditional practices as valid procedural guides, provided they promote fairness and democracy and do not conflict with the bylaws or any specially adopted rules of order.

ARTICLE V. VOTING AND ELECTIONS

SECTION 2: NOMINATIONS COMMITTEE

Current Text:
A two-person Nominations Committee shall be established at least one month prior to every election by a vote of the membership. The call for nominations shall be announced to the membership, and the Nominations Committee shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected. Members may not nominate themselves.

Proposed Draft:
A Nominations Committee, consisting of two members, shall be established by a vote of the membership at least two General Meetings prior to every election. This committee is tasked with overseeing the nomination process for elected positions within the organization.

Announcement: The call for nominations shall be publicly announced to the membership, initiating the nomination process.

Solicitation and Receipt of Nominations: The Nominations Committee is responsible for soliciting and receiving nominations for all positions up for election. Self-nominations are not permitted at this stage.

Nomination Deadline: All nominations must be submitted by the end of the General Meeting held in the month preceding the election. During this meeting, nominations from the floor are also accepted.

Declaration of Candidates: The final list of candidates will be declared to the membership at least two weeks prior to the election General Meeting (GM).

Extension of Nomination Period: During the General Meeting preceding the election, members will have the opportunity to nominate themselves for any position still vacant. If no nominations are received for a particular elected position by the deadline, the nomination period will be extended by an additional two weeks. If no nominations are received or made during this extended period, the position will be declared vacant.

Election Timing: Elections will be conducted during the last General Meeting of the year, ensuring all members have ample notice of the candidates and the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

Description of Changes:
The proposed modifications to the Nominations Committee section of the bylaws introduce several key changes aimed at enhancing the nomination process’s clarity. These changes are designed to make the nomination and election process more structured and transparent.

SECTION 3: VOTING

Current Text:
The Steering Committee shall take all necessary measures to ensure maximum participation of the membership. Elections shall be conducted via secret ballot, employing single transferable, ranked-choice voting.

Proposed Draft:
3.1 Majority Voting System: Elections shall be conducted using a majority voting system. In this system, the candidate who receives a majority of votes is declared the winner.

3.2 Determination of Majority: A simple majority is defined as more than half of the valid votes cast. Abstentions shall not be counted in determining the majority. If no candidate receives a simple majority, a run-off vote between the top tied candidates will be conducted during the same General Meeting.

3.3 Transparency of votes: All votes cast in elections shall not be anonymous. The record of each member’s vote shall be documented and made available for inspection by all members in good standing.

3.4: Access to Voting Records: The voting records, including the names of their respective votes, shall be maintained by the Secretary and shall be accessible to members in good standing upon request.

Description of Changes:
The transition to a majority voting system simplifies the election process, making it more accessible and understandable for all members. Moving away from anonymous voting to a system where votes are not anonymous aims to enhance accountability and trust within the organization. This transparency can also foster open discussions about the direction of the organization and the selection of the Steering Committee. Making the voting records accessible to members in good standing upon request further reinforces the organization’s commitment to transparency.

The following amendments were announced at the previous General Meeting 2024-01-11 General Meeting. If you have any amendments to these bylaws, please notify @WCU_Steering before the next General Meeting.

SECTION 3: QUORUM

Current Text:
A quorum of 10% of the membership in good standing is required for General Meetings.

Proposed Draft:
3.1 Determination of Quorum: The quorum for all General Meetings shall be equal to fifty percent (50%) of the average attendance of members in good standing at the General Meetings held during the preceding six months. This average shall be calculated immediately following the last General Meeting before an upcoming General Meeting.

3.2 Calculating the Average Attendance: For the purposes of determining quorum, “average attendance” shall be defined as the sum total of members in Good Standing present at each of the six most recent General Meetings, divided by the number of those meetings. Only meetings where official minutes were recorded and attendance was taken shall be included in this calculation.

3.3 Rounding: If the calculation of fifty percent (50%) of the average attendance results in a fractional number, the quorum shall be rounded up to the nearest whole number.

3.4 Record Keeping and Notification: The Secretary shall be responsible for maintaining accurate records of attendance at all General Meetings and shall calculate and inform the membership of the current quorum requirements in the minutes of the latest General Meeting as well as at the start of the upcoming General Meeting.

Description of Changes:
The proposed amendment redefines quorum as 50% of the average member attendance at the last six General Meetings, replacing the previous fixed 10% of membership. This calculation is based on the recorded attendance of members in good standing, rounded up to the nearest whole number. The Secretary maintains attendance records, determines the quorum, and informs members of the newest quorum. This approach aligns quorum with actual participation levels, ensuring that meeting decisions reflect active member engagement.

ARTICLE VIII: NON-CAMPAIGN ACTIVITIES

Current Text:
A non-campaign activity can gain democratic approval by being brought as a proposal to the general body at a General Meeting. The proposal will require a simple majority of general meeting attendees. For urgent actions between General Meetings, any member can bring a proposal with five co-signers to the Steering Committee. Should the Steering Committee vote not to approve the proposal or judge it to be non-urgent, it can still be approved at the next General Meeting.

Proposed Draft:
For urgent actions between General Meetings, any member can bring a proposal to the Membership. The action can be approved with quorum plus one approving the action, or three members in good standing, whichever number is higher. Steering Committee members cannot make up half or majority of the votes. If approved, the Steering Committee, Membership Committee, or a delegation will be in charge of accomplishing the action.

Description of Changes:
The proposed amendment the bylaws streamlines the approval process for urgent actions between General Meetings by allowing any member to propose actions directly to the Membership. It establishes a new voting threshold that requires either a quorum plus one or a minimum of three members in good standing to approve an action, whichever is higher, ensuring sufficient member participation. Additionally, it includes a restriction that prevents Steering Committee members from making up half or more of the vote to avoid overrepresentation. Finally, it specifies that upon approval, the Steering Committee, Membership Committee, or a designated delegation will be responsible for executing the action, and takes away the Steering Committees ability to block actions approved by the Membership.

I made suggestions during the two Bylaw Review sessions. (See Early 2024 Bylaw Review).

Some are reflected above. Some are not.

For example, under ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP, SECTION 4: CENSURE AND REMOVAL OF MEMBERS, I advocated for giving all members the ability to recommend censure and expulsion, not just Steering. But that did not make it into the draft of this post.

I mostly wrote brief summaries of the amendments put forward by one or more attendees during the two days in which a review of the Bylaws was conducted. The description of changes seen here are @chima’s edits.

I think this subsection should specify whether attendance is the number of attendees at the start of a General Meeting or the number of attendees at the end of a General Meeting because they can vary.

For example, the August 10th, 2023 General Meeting started off with 8 people in attendance, but Alex and Sam left before it was over. And in those situations, the Secretary needs to know which number to use in calculating the average attendance because it will make a difference.

Fixed. That’s why you shouldn’t do things so late at night! I kept reading the edit as “member OF the steering committee” and thinking I needed to submit an amendment after changing it to member and the steering committee.

I agree, but it needs to be added as an amendment since we did not read that part off during the last meeting.