Assistant Classification Representatives
The following bylaw amendment (in
blue) was submitted with the purpose of helping
representatives fulfill board duties and attend to member needs:
Section 2. The board of trustees shall be composed of the
president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, immediate
past president, and a unit representative elected by the unit from
each of the following classifications of employees of the school
district if represented by the local Public School Employees
organization. An elected assistant unit
representative may act as unit representative at board meetings in
the unit representative’s absence.
Duties of Officers
Section 6. Trustee. A trustee shall represent the
classification of employees which elected them and express to the
board of trustees the needs, desires, and concerns of the members in
Assistant Unit Representative.
An assistant unit representative shall act for the unit
representative at board meetings in the unit representative’s
absence. The assistant may perform other acts directed by the unit
representative to assist the classification of employees which
With growth in our chapter, unit
representatives carry a much greater load today than in previous
years. This amendment will provide unit representatives a moderate
level of assistance with board meetings and serving member needs.
It will not affect the desirable parity between classifications on
the board as only one unit representative will be allowed to
participate. This amendment is meant to apply equally to all
classifications and, with the assistant being an elected position,
will assist in the training of future representatives and the
promotion of leadership within the chapter.
Co-Representatives are Best Solution
UDC Commentary: The well established
principle in governments of divided power adds to organizational
stability. An example of this the separation of the US
Congress into two groups, the
House of Representatives and Senate. Another principle used in
democratic governments is to empower minorities. This is seen
in Congress where the House membership is proportional to the
US population, while in the Senate membership is equal between
The House corresponds roughly to our
Camas PSE general
meetings, and the Senate to our board of directors. In general meetings voting is proportional to membership, while at board meetings voting is equal among classifications.
This organizational structure provides a check to a serious weakness
of democracies, that of majorities dominating minorities. The equal
vote among classifications on the board allows minority
classifications, who are essential to the district's operation, the
power they need to protect their interests. This is why board voting
must stay equal between classifications and why allowing two reps
for classifications over 50 members can not work. In addition,
the PSE state board may not approve such a by-law change.
There is though the real problem of
growing union membership, with reps overburdened and membership
unable to get the help they need. A reasonable alternative to
address this problem would be to allow co-representatives. All
classifications would be allowed to have co-reps with one board vote
between them. The rep elected by the majority of the
classification would have first voting rights, while the minority
rep could vote in the majority rep's absence. Each of these
reps would be elected independently to allow for broader
representation of the classification. Therefore, no team
co-reps would be allowed. In addition to providing more
competent help for membership, co-reps would allow for the mentoring
necessary to those willing to serve in this important voluntary
Classification Rep Bylaw Proposal
UDC Commentary: The bylaw amendment below
by bus driver Mary Williams
addresses the problem of growth in Camas PSE. The continuous
expansion of Camas Schools makes the union's growth an
unavoidable issue that needs to be attended to with care and competence.
With more employees demanding increased time of volunteer board members,
we need more people to shoulder the load of representation. The
number of board
positions now is nearly the same as when the chapter was first instituted.
It's time for change, it's time to add more classification reps.
Any proposed increase to the number of
officers must be for fully vested positions, especially concerning
the responsibility of voting on chapter issues. The suggestion by
some to make additional representatives nonvoting can not work.
This has been tried before and we know it doesn't work. That's
what the previous co-representatives essentially were: two people with
one vote. The reason it doesn't work is because the non voting rep
doesn't have the core responsibility essential to the position.
They are less motivated to attend board meetings and stay informed of
chapter business, and consequently less able to assist the membership.
Nonvoting rep's can never function as a true representative.
With an increase in chapter membership, we
need more and fully functioning classification reps to handle union business
and assist the membership.
All classification reps need to be able to vote.
Bylaw amendment as submitted by Mary Williams:
Section 2. The board of trustees shall be composed of
the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, immediate past
president, and a unit representative from each classification listed
below. The representatives are to be elected by the members within each
of their perspective classifications. unit from each of the following
classifications of employees of the school district if represented by
the local Public School Employees organization. Each classification will
be allowed one representative, except in the case of more than 50
members in a classification. In the case of classification with more
than 50 members, two representatives will be allowed.
2. Food Service
6. Grounds Maintenance
7. Professional Technical
8. Crossing Guards
10. Other units requesting further affiliation
Area School District Wage Information and
Result: The Camas PSE
board recommended "Do Not Pass" to the membership. Bylaw was passed
with a minor amendment.
(Sept. 2007) In
order to assist candidates to effectively communicate their
qualifications for an elected office in Camas PSE, the following
bylaw is proposed by Camas PSE Union Democracy Caucus:
Addition to Article VIII, Sec 1: “Candidate statements may be
submitted for distribution with the notice of election and
posting on classification bulletin boards. Statements must be
submitted as a computer document no later than 20 days prior to
the election, be 250 words or less, and may include a picture.”
proposal is being made for the February Camas PSE meeting.
Candidate Flyers To Be Allowed On Camas PSE Boards
January, 2007 - At the chapter meeting of Camas PSE, it was agreed
that allowing candidates to post flyers on union bulletin boards
would be helpful in enhancing the election process. Candidates
could post information such as the reason they are running for
office, their agenda or platform, and their qualifications. Posting
this information will give members more time to consider the
qualifications of candidates before the election. A bylaw will be
formulated to formally incorporate this permission.
We Need A Chapter Assisted Forum for
Posted 6/13/06. This forum
doesn’t need to be anything more than allowing and assisting candidates to
post an explanation of their qualifications and campaign ideas on PSE
bulletin boards. It could also include ensuring candidates as little as one
single minute at the election meeting to briefly state their qualifications
and ideas if they want to.
Whatever forums are approved
need to be extended fairly to all candidates. It might be advantageous to
include a bylaw that assures candidates of the chapter’s willingness to
extend to them the means necessary to communicate their ideas.
Since Camas PSE usually has to
scrape for candidates to run for office, it would seem very much to our
chapter’s advantage to implement these guarantees of support to candidates
and thus encourage more to run for and serve in elected office.
Election Reform Proposal
Posted 6/1/06. During our recent
chapter election, there was an irregularity, certainly unintentional, but
still a situation that significantly impacted the democratic election
process which Camas PSE ascribes to, and which this Union Democracy Caucus
strives to promote.
As we were beginning the election, Chapter
president Kathy Duley asked if anyone would like to hear the presidential
candidates, Ivan Frey and herself, speak and/or answer questions. Given that
these meetings are long, the chorus response she got of “NO!” may be
understandable. But how then do presidential hopefuls effectively
communicate their ideas and plans to the chapter members? Presently there is
no chapter assisted way for candidates to communicate their ideas to the
members as a whole. This is not a good situation given that it’s in Camas
PSE’s interest to assist these candidates in the election process. Doing so
will encourage a greater participation of members as candidates and
ultimately in serving as chapter trustees.
A discussion of how this can be done will be
for a future post.
Bylaw Meeting Results
April 25, 2006 -
Bylaw amendment was changed from
"ten days" to “ten working days,” which with weekends is roughly equivalent
to 15 days, especially for our typical Monday or Tuesday evening meetings.
Even though we lose one day notification, given the preference for
simplicity of language in the bylaws, this is a suitable outcome.
Monday, April 24, 2006, 6:30 pm, Trans Center
on Election Notification Bylaw
Proposed amendment: change
“at least fifteen (15) days advance notice shall be given the membership
prior to the holding of the election” to “at least ten (10) days advance
days notification for officer elections is already a very minimal amount of
time. The qualifications of candidates need to be discussed and people need
notice to schedule the date and time to be there. The “ten working days”
provision of Sec. 1 is necessary to prevent notification during vacations.
If PSE finds it hard to recruit candidates to post a slate with the notice,
then it should instead address disrespect of trustees and candidates. The
bylaws state that “Members shall have the right to fair and democratic
elections at all levels of the chapter”
(Article VIII, Sec. 1).
Reducing Section 6 notification to 10 days is not sensible, and 15 days
notification is not an undue burden on the union.
Sec. 6: “Members of the board of trustees shall be elected by secret ballot
vote, and the balloting shall be so conducted as to afford all members a
reasonable opportunity to vote. At least
fifteen (15) days
advance notice shall be given to membership prior to the holding of the
Sec. 1: Members shall have the right to fair and democratic elections at all
levels of the chapter. This includes
ten (10) working days
notice of nominations and elections, and equal opportunities for competing
candidates to state their qualifications and reasons for seeking office to
the chapter membership. Elections shall be conducted by secret written
ballot and certified by the chapter secretary.
Bylaw Proposal (this Bylaw was passed)
The following bylaw proposal will
be considered at the January 27th, 2004 (Tuesday) PSE
"The election of
the Classification Representative for Transportation will
be held each year at a classification meeting at the
transportation center and will occur within thirty days
before the May General Election Meeting."
Having 20% of union
membership handling the common affairs of the union at
the general meetings is plenty satisfactory, but having
20% of the bus drivers voting on their representative is
not. We need to elect our rep on site with maximum
Union Democracy Caucus
This is a rank and file
organization that defends and promotes democratic
processes in the Camas Chapter of Public School Employees
Union of Washington.
Contact this caucus by
Association For Union
Questions and Answers -- Forming a caucus
Q: "I need information on
the caucus I have started. I have questions such as: does
a caucus have a formal internal structure? Must a caucus
be formally registered with the union, or any other body?
Who determines qualifications for membership? And on and
on. Sorry, I can't find the answers to my questions on
your site, and I'm not sure which books to order from
AUD. I would also like to contact rank and file groups to
see what they have done and how they do it. Thank you for
any help you can give."
A: Great question. Forming a
caucus is one of the best ways to organize for democracy,
member control, and reform of your union.
What is a caucus? Most caucuses
start out (and many remain) small informal groups of
like-minded members of a union who wish to pursue some
common goals. Most caucuses are independent of the union
and they are certainly not subject to control by the
union leadership. Nor do you have to register your caucus
with the union.
There may be several caucuses in
a union, including one or more organized by the union
officers, themselves, for example, to promote their
candidacies in an election or to advocate some point of
view. (These are not to be confused with official
union-sponsored caucuses, like a women's caucus or people
of color caucus. These official caucuses may be governed
by the union bylaws and subject to control by the union
Is a caucus different from a
committee? No. Call it whatever you want. Some call their
caucus a committee -- for example: "The Committee
for A Just Contract." The name you pick may tell
people what you are fighting for. You will probably want
to make it clear in your literature that your caucus is
independent of the union to avoid confusion about whether
you are speaking as official union representatives.
(Again, be careful not to confuse an independent
committee with an official union-sponsored committee.)
Who can belong to a caucus or
committee? That's up to you and your fellow caucus
organizers and members. Usually, a caucus will accept
anyone who supports its goals and is willing to work to
Do caucus members have to be
members of the union? No. One of the larger union reform
caucuses, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, accepts into
the caucus not only union members, but also their spouses
or significant others. Who is eligible to belong is up to
the caucus members.
What kind of structure does a
caucus have to have? Whatever works best for you. Some
activists create a structure that resembles their union's
structure, with officers, bylaws, etc. Others are more
informal, with an elected steering committee, or just a
committee in which everyone participates equally. As time
goes on, you may find that you need to formalize your
structure and create bylaws. But at the beginning, don't
worry about structure. Focus on your goals and strategy
-- what it is you want to accomplish, and how you plan to
get there -- and get to work.
Do we need to incorporate into a
501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization or 501 (c) (5) labor
organization? No. You can be an unincorporated membership
association. Again, don't waste your time and energy on
the creation and administration of some elaborate legal
structure. Do only what's necessary to accomplish your
Of course, you will eventually
need to raise funds, for example, to print leaflets,
t-shirts, or send mailings, etc. You may want to charge
yourselves dues or hold a raffle. You'll want to be very
careful with money. This is particularly important when
it comes to union elections where there are often strict
rules about use of funds. If you decide to open a bank
account in the group's name, your bank may require you to
provide it with bylaws designating some officer who is
authorized to handle money and sign checks. O.K. Now the
time has come to adopt bylaws. But don't write a book,
just stick with the basics: what is the name of your
organization, what are its goals, who is eligible for
membership, how do you make decisions, who in your group
has what authority, how can members change the bylaws.
Once your group has been around
for a while, and you've decided to go for the long-haul,
you may then find it helpful to set up a parallel,
not-for-profit educational organization and perhaps seek
funding from foundations. For example, Teamsters for a
Democratic Union teams up with a related not-for-profit
organization, the "Teamster Rank and File Research
and Legal Defense Fund." O.K. Now we're talking
about getting lawyers involved, incorporating, and filing
for tax-exempt, Section 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.
Generally speaking, however, less is more: less structure
usually means more participation and greater flexibility.
To recap: the most important
considerations when establishing a caucus in your union
are going to be your mission and your strategy for
implementing it. What do you want to change and how do
you propose to make those changes. These are far more
important than bylaws or tax considerations. Only after
your caucus has gotten off the ground and started
fighting big battles will you need to address such legal
Questions to consider: Where are
you going and how will you get there? How are your goals
related to the concerns of your coworkers? Do you just
want new faces in the top positions? Or do you have a
plan for changing the way the union works? Say you win
office, what will make the new officers different from
the people they replaced? What will you do differently?
Do you want to change the union's orientation toward
management? Do you want to reorganize the union to make
it more democratic? Will you make it easier for the
members to vote you out than it was for you, when you
were the opposition? Where do you plan to begin? Should
you run for office or focus on organizing at the
workplace? What role will members play? Will you educate
your coworkers and get them involved in actions? How will
you help members get hold of the information they need to
be in control and hold their leaders accountable? All of
this needs to be sorted out in your caucus if you want to
Remember, most caucuses start in
someone's kitchen, a restaurant, or a bar, just a
convenient meeting place where you start sharing ideas
with like-minded union brothers and sisters. The
activists usually begin by tackling some manageable
project, not reshaping the world overnight. As new
members come on board and their talents are recognized
and tapped, the caucus can then afford to become more
ambitious. Successful caucuses usually start small and
build through action and discussion.
AUD's Union Democracy Benchmarks
I have a very basic question. What do you at AUD
think is a democratic union? How do you judge -- what are
the benchmarks? Is it enough to have elections and union
meetings? Is a union democratic if it just obeys the
legal requirements, even if those requirements are
minimal? Do you have a list of unions that you consider
We do not maintain a list of "AUD-certified"
democratic unions. We feel that judgment is best left in
the hands of union members themselves, the people most
familiar with the real workings of the institution. Visit
the rank-and-file sites on our
links page to see how
various unions measure up in the eyes of some of their
But, we like the
idea of union democracy benchmarks, so we put together
the following checklist. Warning! This list has many
limitations; we welcome your
elections that promote participation.
Union goes beyond the minimum DOL requirements
for elections (see links below): provides more
time for nominations and campaigning, union
representatives encourage members to run for
office. All members in good standing eligible to
run; no continuous good standing or meeting
attendance requirements. No ban on non-member
contributions (except employers and unions) to
candidates for union office. Officers back
members' right to time off for campaigning. If
necessary, elections run by legitimate outside
contested elections. More than minimum
required by law; members regularly challenge
incumbents; there is turnover in officers and
to membership list. In elections,
candidates have access to membership list (name,
work location, phone, e-mail) for campaign
purposes, including right to copy the list.
publications. Local newsletter/website
publishes members' views, including those
critical of officials, representatives, or union
policy; union encourages debate and discussion of
issues and candidates. In elections, all
candidates have equal use of union publications
and means of communication (website, newsletter,
e-mail list) to put out their campaign material.
ratification of contracts. All contracts
and side agreements between the union and
management subject to ratification by secret
ballot by members covered by the contract.
votes. Members vote on striking, on
return to work, and on other decision during
strike; strike votes not used to force members to
ratify contracts ("either you vote
"yes" or you vote to strike").
vote. Complete text of proposed contract
changes, amendments, referenda, etc. distributed
to members prior to ratification with sufficient
time for meaningful membership review and
discussion. Union circulates different opinions
about the contract offer.
representatives. Shop stewards and
business agents elected, secret ballot, by
members they represent, subject to recall by
members they represent; stewards and active
members trained in legal rights and organizing;
stewards council that meets to plan and
bill of rights. Workers participate
fully in the grievance process at every step,
with full information about their case and its
to information. Union representatives
give members current and complete copies of the
contract and the union constitution/bylaws.
Contract and Constitution are published on union
website. Members have easy access to information
on officers' salaries, budget, and expenses.
Union representatives regularly inform members of
their rights under federal and state law, and how
to enforce them, including rights and
responsibilities under the LMRDA.
local meetings. At least quarterly;
announced ahead of time; time and place
convenient to members; agenda circulated in
advance; real business conducted, not just a pep
rally; members encouraged to speak, make
proposals, vote, and ask questions. Reasonable
quorum (not so high as to prevent member
meetings). Minutes available to members.
organizing and communication. Members
organize in independent committees and caucuses,
publish rank-and-file newsletters and websites,
run candidates for union office. Union officers
and equality. All members are treated
fairly; union fights discrimination by management
and among members; officers and representatives
reflect membership in terms of gender, race,
language, craft, seniority, etc. Contracts,
Constitution, meetings, publications translated
into languages spoken by members.
for members. Union trains members in
legal rights and organizing, including how to
participate effectively in the union and how to
organize on the job.