Information for NATCA Locals Regarding Membership and Executive Board Meetings During COVID-19 Crisis
The following information does not pertain to conducting Q&A calls with the membership to deliver information or discuss concerns. This information specifically addresses the conduct of a local meeting as specified in the local constitution in which the official business of the local will be deliberated and/or voted upon.
NATCA has received inquiries from a number of locals regarding whether membership and/or executive board meetings needed to conduct local union business may be held electronically, as opposed to in-person, during the COVID-19 crisis. The answer to this issue requires a balancing of the provisions in the NATCA Constitution with the unusual realities of the state and local regulations currently mandating stay-at-home periods and/or limitations on the number of attendees at gatherings.
Article VI, Section 6 of the NATCA National Constitution requires that “all regular and special meetings of the Association shall be governed by this Constitution and by Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.” These parliamentary rules only allow for electronic meetings where expressly authorized in an organization’s governing documents and disfavor such meetings due to concerns over ensuring all members have the technology to participate and protecting the processes for actions such as recognizing speakers, allowing points of order, taking and recording votes, and maintaining minutes.
NATCA’s governing documents do not contain an express authorization for electronic meetings. However, given the need to interpret the NATCA Constitution (which is a contract between the organization and its members) in accord with traditional legal principles that require a contract be applied to effectuate its intent and in coordination with the realities of the current public health crisis, NATCA offers the following guidance:
- Locals that do not need to conduct urgent local union business and can postpone local meetings until the current COVID-19 crisis has abated should do so.
- Locals that determine they must hold meetings to conduct time-sensitive and necessary local union business must develop a written plan for the conduct of an electronic meeting for this limited purpose and provide a copy of that plan to their regional Constitution Committee member prior to the notice and holding of the electronic meeting.
- Locals’ plans for an electronic meeting must ensure that all participating members be able to speak and be heard, that meeting minutes be taken appropriately, that the meeting be closed to the public and non-meeting participants and, at a minimum, provide details for the following:
- Whether the meeting platform will be audiovisual (such as through Zoom or Skype) or audio only (such as through a conference call) and which particular platform will be used;
- How a member will seek recognition or interrupt a speaker to seek a point of order;
- If members will need to download new software or buy new equipment to participate in the meeting and who will be available to assist members with technology issues or questions; and
- What procedural special rules of order might be necessary (for example, whether motions should be made in advance of the meeting and seconds be obtained prior to the meeting to take less time and how votes will be taken and reported).
Locals with questions about this guidance should contact their regional Constitution Committee member or NATCA General Counsel Marguerite L. Graf ([email protected]).