Parliamentary Procedure for Local Union Meetings
Simplified and In Brief
In order for Local Union Meetings to be efficient and democratic, it is important that everybody follow the rules that govern the action and conduct of the assembly.
We all know how little meaningful work gets done when a meeting is degraded into a gripe session or is unfairly dominated by one Member or one issue.
Without a system in place to keep everything fair and orderly, the democratic process is severely threatened. That system is called “parliamentary procedure”.
The purpose of this primer is not to cover every aspect of parliamentary procedure, but is intended to serve as a brief overview. It is meant to serve as a tool to help all of us better understand how to participate in the most democratic meetings possible.
The fact of the matter is this: Local No.4 has struggled to maintain proper decorum and accomplish meaningful business at meetings. This is a major contributing factor to long unproductive meetings. Let's work together to shift the tide!
Parliamentary procedure is primarily about conducting Union Meetings in a formal, professional, and, above all, democratic manner. Every Member has a right to know just what is being decided. The majority rules, but never at the expense of the rights of the minority. All Members enjoy the same rights and responsibilities.
A motion is a formal proposal by a Member during a meeting that the assembly take some certain action. The basic form of the motion is the Main Motion.
A Main Motion is brought before the assembly:
1. Motion is moved: While no motion is being considered by the assembly, a Member seeks recognition from the chair. Once she is recognized she has the exclusive right to be heard at that time. The Member then makes the motion, “I move that we allocate $300 to purchase educational materials”.
2. Motion is seconded: Someone without needing to be recognized, seconds the motion. The seconder is not claiming to agree with motion. The seconder is stating that the motion should be discussed
and voted on by the assembly.
3. Motion is stated: The chair states the question, “It is moved and seconded to allocate $300 to purchase educational materials”. As the chair turns to the maker of the motion, she states, “Are you ready for the question?” The motion no longer belongs to the mover; it now belongs to the assembly.
A Main Motion is considered by the assembly:
4. Motion is debated: All remarks by the Members are made to the chair, never to or about another Member. Debate can be closed only by a 2/3 vote by the assembly. Debate should be short and to the point. (see Debate Protocol for more information)
The wording of the motion when the question is put is the way it goes into effect. A voice vote is the regular method when a majority vote is required for adoption.
A rising vote is the normal method when a 2/3 vote is required for adoption. A ‘show of hands’ is intended for small assemblies or after an inconclusive voice vote.
6. Vote is announced: The chair makes the following statements:
“The ‘ayes’ have it.” Or, “The ‘Noes’ have it.”
“The motion is adopted.” Or, “The motion is lost.”
The chair states the effect of the vote or orders its execution.
The assembly then turn their focus on the next order of business
“The next item of business on the agenda is ...”
The six steps may be reduced should the chair present a motion and receive unanimous consent. Such as: “If there are no objections, the Local will allocate $300.00 to purchase educational materials”. If there are no objections, the motion passes, if any objections are raised, the six steps would be used beginning with Step 2. This privilege of the chair is meant to speed up and condense business, not remove the input of the Members present. That's why if there is any objection, the normal six steps apply.
There are some basic rules that should be followed when it is time for the assembly to debate a motion. They are similar to court room proceeding rules.
• Only one person speaks at a time, directly to the chair.
• A speaker must be recognized by the chair before speaking.
• All comments are made through the chair.
• Comments are confined to the current issue before the assembly.
• Discussion should alternate between Pro and Con when possible.
• No reading of lengthy papers or long speeches.
• No cross conversations amongst the assembly. Avoid chatter.
• As a general rule, no interruptions. They are allowed in some instances.
• No verbal attacks of other Members, NEVER make it personal.
• If decorum can't be maintained call a recess or ask disruptive Members to leave.
The assembly's right to order out weigh an individuals right to use personalities,
profanities, or similar undemocratic behaviors.
• Decisions are null and void in the absence of a quorum. The vote of the Executive Board
would stand in such event.
• All decisions are binding on all Members regardless of how they voted.
• All rules must be respected and obeyed in order to protect the minority.
This list of motions is by no means all inclusive, again it is simplified considerably. There are also order of precedent issues that are not covered. This list is meant to orient us regarding some of the most common motions and help us along with a model script.
Main Motion – Propose some action
“I move that the Local...”
Amend – Improve a proposal
“I move to amend the motion by...”
Close Debate – Stop discussion and vote now
“I call the previous question”
Refer – Delay a decision
“I move to refer the motion to the Health and Safety Committee”
Postpone – Delay a decision
“I move to postpone the motion until...”
Postpone Indefinitely – Kill a motion
“I move to postpone the motion indefinitely”
Request for Information – Obtain information
“Can the Financial Secretary tell us if we have enough money for...”
Point of Order – Challenge the ruling of the Chair
“Point of Order. We can't vote on this motion as another is on the floor”
Division – Assure the accuracy of a voice vote
Adjourn – Close the meeting
“I move to adjourn”
Page Last Updated: Jun 01, 2022 (13:00:16)