President

If I were a worker in a factory, the first thing I would do would be to join a union.” F. D. -RooseveltIt is the President’s responsibility as the chief executive officer to give leadership in the activities of the local. The way to accomplish this is to regard all the officers as a leadership team and see that regular meetings of the officers are held so that the problems and programs of the local are thoroughly discussed.

CHAIRS LOCAL UNION MEETINGS

When the membership meeting is called to order, the President and the Executive Board should have ready a prearranged agenda of business that they intend to raise with the members. They should have discussed major issues before hand and formulated their collective recommendations to the membership on what should be done.

In chairing the meeting, the President should act as an impartial moderator of the game, rather than a participant.

The President must keep the meeting moving along and give the members the feeling that each has an opportunity to address the issues.

SERVING AS EX-OFFICIO MEMBER OF ALL COMMITTEES

The President has the responsibility to see that Committees are structured to represent the diversity of the local members. The President must make sure that committees function and are engaged in those activities to promote the welfare of the union.

The President has the right to appoint committees not filled by election, making sure members selected, are committed to implementing the goal of the committee.

CHAIR OF THE NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE

This is one of the greatest challenges to the President to obtain the best deal for the membership. This means the President, like the Boy Scouts, must be prepared and know about collective bargaining techniques and strategies. It requires knowing as well when to stop talking and to listen. It means keeping cool and working closely with the entire negotiating committee.

PRESIDENT AS THE UNION SPOKESPERSON

The President is the chief spokesperson and representative of the local to other organizations within and outside the labor movement.

This means the President must know the AFL-CIO structure and be knowledgeable about the other organizations and institutions that work closely with the labor movement.

PRESIDENT’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR LOCAL UNION FINANCES

The President must sign all checks in conjunction with the treasurer or the financial secretary. You must be bonded as required by the IUE Constitution. In addition, you should make certain that you and all other persons who handle funds or other property in the local are bonded in accordance with the requirements of the Labor-Management and Disclosure Act of 1959.

The President must make sure that all checks are properly drawn and that the bills being paid have been approved by the membership. All checks and all vouchers are signed by the President.

As chief executive officer of the local, the President is responsible for the constitutionality of every motion that is passed by the local. Any motion that would expend money unconstitutionally should be ruled out of order.

QUESTIONS FOR THE PRESIDENT

“My friends, it is solidarity of labor we want. We do not want to find fault with each other, but to solidify our forces and say to each other: We must be together; our masters are joined together and we must do the same thing.” — Mother Jones 1902, Speaking before the convention of the UMWA, Indianapolis, IN

  1. Do you make a special point of emphasizing the responsibility of people with union offices to attend union meetings?
  2. Is a proper agenda prepared for each meeting?
  3. Do the meeting start on time and end on time?
  4. Are meetings conducted so that everyone gets a chance to speak?
  5. Do you deal sympathetically with people who are unfamiliar with parliamentary procedure?
  6. Have you streamlined your meetings so that letters are summarized, and not read in full?
  7. Does every committee have an opportunity to make a report at each meeting?
  8. Do you see that committee reports are short and to the point?
  9. Is routine business handled in the Executive Board meetings?
  10. Do meeting announcements tell what is going to happen at the meeting?
  11. Do you use workplace charts to show where the “key” people are in the workplace, the extent of organization, and the location and frequency of grievances?
  12. Do you set up a calendar at the beginning of each year, indicating all the events and situations you can anticipate for the year, and mark the day you must start preparing for each event and situation?
  13. Do you keep a notebook which lists the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all people you must work with?
  14. Are you familiar with all the jobs at the workplace, the working conditions, the wage rates and grievances?
  15. Do you keep in touch with the regional office and other locals in the same occupations, so you know what is going on around you?
  16. Do you cooperate with your International Representative by keeping him or her informed on all developments?
  17. Do your committees and officers have clearly defined responsibilities?
  18. Are you sure to refer letters and people to the proper officer or committee?
    1. Do you back up the people who work in the union?
    2. When it is necessary to reverse someone, do you let the person involved change his or her position gracefully?
    3. Are you sure to keep all the people who should be informed of what’s happening?
  19. Are you on a constant lookout for new union leaders? When a man or woman shows an interest in union work, do you give them an assignment in line with their interests? Do you encourage them?
  20. Do you meet with the committee chairpersons and officers regularly to discuss their work with them (and especially before they have to make reports or begin to work on major jobs)?
  21. Do you make a conscious effort to stay ahead of your membership, or at least try to spot developments before they become problems?
  22. Do you have a new member’s class?
  23. Do you use leaflets to get information to members?
  24. Do you make sure that bulletin boards are used effectively (kept neat, old notices taken down, timely notices put up)?
  25. Do you use the total leadership of your local union to carry a union message and union news?
  26. Have you made an effort to get members to attend union meetings – by announcing meeting on special leaflets and announcements, by lighting the union hall on nights there are meetings, by painting the hall attractively, by having the chairs for the meeting arranged, by making sure the room is warm on cold nights and well ventilated always, by making the union hall a useful center (club rooms, etc.), by having music at the beginning and end of meetings, by displays of books and pamphlets for sale, and by cordiality to new faces?
  27. Does your local have a retiree’s council?
  28. Are your standing committees as active and representative of the membership as possible?
  29. Do you communicate with the schools and other community organizations in your area offering to supply a speaker on the union?
  30. Do you enlist the help of the retired workers in your community relations programs?
  31. Does your Legislative Committee operate between elections as well as at elections?
  32. Is the membership kept informed by leaflets and special bulletins of the actions and votes of their representatives in government?
  33. Do you tell your membership when important bills affecting them come up in Congress or the state legislature?
  34. Are you encouraging within your union an understanding of national and international events, as well as local bread and butter issues?
  35. Do you discuss with local union leaders the issues that are of most concern to your membership – like taxes, health and safety, air and water pollution, energy – and encourage concentration on these and other issues through projects and programs?
  36. Do you see that your local union paper, or a simple fact sheet, carries news of the activities of your COPE Representative to the membership?
  37. Have you worked out with your publicity committee and/or education committee regular distributions of leaflets on key issues, or facts about coming elections, or notifications about community activities that might be of interest to your membership?
  38. Do you invite community and national leadership to address your meetings?
  39. Do the people in your local know how the IUE was organized, what it has won, how it is in the main line of labor history?