Unifor’s community chapters are a new form of union membership that aims to reach out to groups of workers that are generally excluded from union membership. Potential groups of people may include workers in workplaces where organizing campaigns have not yet succeeded; workers in precarious jobs; unemployed workers; students and any other group of workers hoping to improve their economic and social conditions.
Here’s what our Unifor Constitution says about Community Chapters:
Unifor understands that strong local unions are rooted in strong communities. We can help build strong communities and enhance our collective strength in the struggle for social and economic justice by opening our union to workers who currently have no access to union membership, because they have no collective agreement, or job, or hold temporary contract or other precarious employment. This effort will support our drive to build new bargaining units and strengthen the heart of the union.
11 points for union meetings
Using the following 11 points, you will be able to participate effectively and democratically in local union meetings.
- THE MOTION: You make a motion by raising your hand to get the chair’s attention. After being recognized by the chair you state your name and say, “Sister (or Brother) Chair, I move that we…,” and state your motion. Motions are proper only after they have been offered to and accepted by the chair, and have been supported (seconded) by another member. You make a motion when you want the group to take some action like sending a letter, accepting a report, spending money to help a community struggle, etc.
- THE AMENDMENT: Amendments are offered in the same way as motions. You make an amendment when you agree substantially with the motion that has been made but want to make some change to it before it is adopted. For example, a motion has been made to hold a special local union meeting, but no date has been specified. You want to be sure the meeting will be held at a time when all members can attend, so you amend the motion to include a suitable date, by saying, “Brother (or Sister) Chair, I move that the motion be amended to read …”
- NOTICE OF MOTION: If a motion is of particular importance, or if it deals with policies, by-laws, or the constitution of a body, it is often best dealt with through a notice of motion. A notice of motion will state the substance of the motion, and will specify a future meeting at which the motion will be discussed.
- VOTING: Voting on motions is normally by a show of hands. The chair will ask those in favour of the motion to raise their hands. Then the chair will ask those who are opposed to raise their hands. The chair rules on the result of the vote. A simple majority is required to pass most motions.
- HOW TO END DEBATE: If you think there has been enough discussion of any issue, you may try to close discussion. You end debate by getting recognition from the chair, after which you say, “Sister (or Brother) Chair, I call the question.” If the motion to call the question passes, debate on the issue ends and the chair must call for an immediate vote. If the proposal to put the question fails, debate on the motion continues.
- HOW TO TABLE: If you feel the motion before the meeting should be delayed so that more information can be made available, you may move a motion to table. If it is seconded and the motion to table
passes, the main motion is put aside. A motion to table is not debatable, and should be put to an immediate vote by the chair.
- POINT OF INFORMATION: If at any time during the meeting you are confused about the business being discussed, or if you want the motion that is being considered more clearly explained, you may rise to ask the chair for a point of information. Remember that a point of information is to receive information, not to give it.
- POINT OF ORDER: If you disagree with any of the chair’s rulings, or if you believe that the person who is speaking is not talking about the business being considered, you may raise a point of order and state your objection to the chair. The chair then is required to rule one way or the other on your point of order.
- POINT OF PRIVILEGE: You rise on a point of privilege when there is a need to immediately address a situation that affects the comfort, convenience, integrity, reputation or rights of a meeting or an individual member, such as turning the heat up or down, asking the speaker to talk more loudly, etc.
- APPEAL FROM THE CHAIR: If you disagree with a ruling of the chair on a point of order, you may “appeal from the decision of the chair.” After you make such an appeal, it must be supported by at least one other member. You will then be given an opportunity to state your reasons for believing the chair should be overruled, after which the chair will have an opportunity to give her/his reasons for the ruling. No one else may participate in this discussion. The chair will place your appeal before the group for a vote. The group will then, by majority vote, overrule your appeal and uphold the chair, or support your appeal by overruling the chair. Since appeals from the decision of the chair tend to delay meetings, they are used only when the rulings of the chair are of such great importance that the member cannot in good conscience allow them to stand.
- MOTION TO ADJOURN: A motion to adjourn is always in order. It must be seconded and requires a majority vote to carry. It is not debatable. While a motion to adjourn is in order at any time, it is most commonly put when the business of the meeting is concluded. Some by-laws may have a fixed time for adjournment, but allow for motions to extend the time.