Posted on Oct 08, 2007
John M Grau
I leave today for NECA’s convention in San Francisco, and since most of our chapter leaders are leaving in a couple days to attend the Board of Governors meeting, I want to offer some thoughts on proposals before the Board that I haven’t addressed in previous postings.
Bylaw Amendment #1 deals with the issue of secret ballot voting. It has been our policy and our tradition to keep all Board of Governors ballots secret. However, last year the majority of Governors voted to change this practice and do away with secret ballots. This bylaw amendment will formalize that intent. Transparency is one of the new tenets of corporate governance, and non-profit associations are also adopting many of those practices.
Bylaw Amendment #3 is just some technical corrections to the indemnification section of NECA’s bylaws. Before their revision in 2004, NECA didn’t have an indemnification clause in its bylaws. In today’s litigious society, a membership organization like NECA and its chapters should offer protection for our volunteers performing work on behalf of the association. We do carry insurance coverage for these liabilities, but even the best coverage can have some unintended gaps – thus, this clause in our bylaws. I would urge anyone with a leadership position in a voluntary organization to check the indemnity coverage offered by that organization.
Bylaw Amendment #2 and Ordinary Proposal # 4 both address the composition of Council on Industrial Relations (CIR) panels. The twelve member CIR panel consists of six IBEW appointees and six NECA appointees. The intent of Proposal #4 is that the CIR has someone with knowledge of systems (IBS) work when the CIR hears an IBS case. Amendment #2 changes the composition of the six-person NECA panel by adding one contractor and removing the NECA regional executive director. Proposal # 4 makes sense; Amendment #2 doesn’t.
[In making his appointments to the CIR panel, the NECA president] strives for a strong balance of expertise, including contractors and chapter managers from around the country, as well as national labor relations professionals. Adding IBS experience to the panel for relevant cases is a good thing and follows what we have done for our cases that involve line construction. However, taking away the extensive knowledge and deep expertise that our regional executive directors bring to CIR would be a bad thing. The CIR is an important and effective tool for resolving labor disputes within our industry, and we need to keep our best people on it. (I know Geary Higgins recently dedicated several “Between the Lines” columns to discussions about the CIR recently. NECA members can read them here, here, and here.)
I look forward to a lively Board of Governors meeting and an exciting convention. See you all there.