IUE-CWA officers and stewards are working men and women committed to preserving the American Dream for union members and their families. They work side-by-side with members to choose priorities and guide workers through tough workplace situations on both the local and national level.
“If I were a worker in a factory, the first thing I would do would be to join a union.” F. D. -Roosevelt
It 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 Commitee
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 ad 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.
“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
Questions For The President
Do you make a special point of emphasizing the responsibility of people with union offices to attend union meetings?
Is a proper agenda prepared for each meeting?
Do the meeting start on time and end on time?
Are meetings conducted so that everyone gets a chance to speak?
Do you deal sympathetically with people who are unfamiliar with parliamentary procedure?
Have you streamlined your meetings so that letters are summarized, and not read in full?
Does every committee have an opportunity to make a report at each meeting?
Do you see that committee reports are short and to the point?
Is routine business handled in the Executive Board meetings?
Do meeting announcements tell what is going to happen at the meeting?
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?
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?
Do you keep a notebook which lists the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all people you must work with?
Are you familiar with all the jobs at the workplace, the working conditions, the wage rates and grievances?
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?
Do you cooperate with your International Representative by keeping him or her informed on all developments?
Do your committees and officers have clearly defined responsibilities?
Are you sure to refer letters and people to the proper officer or committee?
Do you back up the people who work in the union?
When it is necessary to reverse someone, do you let the person involved change his or her position gracefully?
Are you sure to keep all the people who should be informed of what’s happening?
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?
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)?
Do you make a conscious effort to stay ahead of your membership, or at least try to spot developments before they become problems?
Do you have a new member’s class?
Do you use leaflets to get information to members?
Do you make sure that bulletin boards are used effectively (kept neat, old notices taken down, timely notices put up)?
Do you use the total leadership of your local union to carry a union message and union news?
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?
Does your local have a retiree’s council?
Are your standing committees as active and representative of the membership as possible?
Do you communicate with the schools and other community organizations in your area offering to supply a speaker on the union?
Do you enlist the help of the retired workers in your community relations programs?
Does your Legislative Committee operate between elections as well as at elections?
Is the membership kept informed by leaflets and special bulletins of the actions and votes of their representatives in government?
Do you tell your membership when important bills affecting them come up in Congress or the state legislature?
Are you encouraging within your union an understanding of national and international events, as well as local bread and butter issues?
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?
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?
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?
Do you invite community and national leadership to address your meetings?
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?
“Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America.” John L. Lewis
The Vice President is expected to assist the President and to carryout responsibilities assigned by the President.
In the absence of the President, the Vice President chairs meetings. The Vice President should help keep order at meetings.
In the absence of the President, the Vice President assumes the duties of the President.
The Vice President should be an active member of the local union. This can be assured if the President assigns special duties or responsibilities to the Vice President.
In many locals, the Vice President is responsible for the activities of the very important Constitutional Standing Committee
“Don’t Mourn for me — Organize!” Joe Hill Last words spoken before his execution, November 19, 1915
The Recording Secretary of a local union has the following duties:
Keep all records of the meetings of the local union, Executive Board and negotiating committee.
Conduct all correspondence and present the correspondence to the local union meeting.
Provide the union regularly with an up-to-date mailing list of the local’s members.
Keep careful files of correspondence, minutes, grievances, literature and other records.
The kind of meeting (regular, special or Executive Board).
The name of the organization.
The date, time, and place of meeting.
The name of chair and secretary.
The approval or correction of the minutes of the previous meeting.
Summaries of reports of the officers and committees including recommendations made and the action taken on them. Receipts and disbursements since the last meeting as given by the financial secretary and treasurer, should be stated in the minutes.
The text of all motions made and seconded, the name of the maker, and the action taken on the motion. When the vote is by show of hands, roll call, or secret ballot, the exact vote for and against the motion should be entered.The secretary must get the correct wording of the motion. If the secretary is not sure, he or she should ask the chair to repeat it. It is not necessary to write up the discussion on a motion, although it is a good idea to summarize the debate on important motions.
The time of adjournment.
The minutes of a meeting are an accurate and permanent record of the activities and official actions of the local. They are also a reminder to members of what went on at the last meeting. The minutes should be clear and accurate so that when referred to at a later date there is no doubt what action the members took or didn’t take on the business brought up. They should contain enough detail so that when they are read at the next meeting, a member who was absent will understand what happened at the last meeting
Take notes during the meeting. Have a copy of the agenda in front of you as a guide. Write up a rough draft of the minutes as soon as possible so notes do not get “cold.” If you are not sure how it sounds, read it aloud to yourself. Be brief but exact in wording. Don’t put in the details of discussion, reports, and speeches.
The minutes should not in any way reflect the personal opinion of the secretary.
Copy the minutes into the minute book. The minutes should be typed or written in ink in a well bound book with strong covers. The secretary should sign the minutes of every meeting.
If a correction is made in the minutes at the next meeting, the secretary writes the correction at the end of the minutes and initial it.
When called upon by the chair during the union meeting, the secretary reads the minutes of the previous meeting so that the membership may approve the accuracy of this official record of their action. The secretary should stand and read slowly and clearly. It is not a wise policy to insist that if a matter isn’t very important it should be read fast and gotten over with. In some locals the minutes are typed and distributed to the membership.
The secretary can be an important aid to the chair during the meeting by helping the chair following the agenda and reading back accurately worded motions when needed.
The recording secretary often has the job of handling correspondence. This includes initiating and answering letters, keeping the proper committee chairs and local union officers informed of correspondence received, keeping the membership informed of communications, and maintaining an efficient file of correspondence.
All letters and bills received by the local should be reviewed by the Executive Board before the membership meeting. Some local unions elect a Corresponding Secretary to handle communications.
At the proper point in the order of business — after the reading and approval of the minutes — the President asks the Secretary: “Are there any letters or bills?” The Secretary then reads or summarizes them.
Letters from the International Officers of the union and other important correspondence should be read completely at the meeting. But many letters can be summarized and do not need to be read in full. The secretary or whoever is doing the reading might say: “We have a letter here from the March of Dimes asking for a contribution. Does anyone want me to read the whole thing?” Or, the following form for a summary might be used:
Letter is from:Date:
Action requested or required by local:
Every letter which the union received should be at least mentioned to the members. They are entitled to know what correspondence their union is engaged in. It might be a good idea for the Secretary to bring the file of letters to the meeting and let interested members look them over after adjournment.
In some cases where the letter may be long but important, it might be wise to read only several key sentences or paragraphs. The secretary should go over the letters beforehand and underline the parts he/she plans to read. For example, the secretary might say, “this letter announces the monthly meeting of the State AFL-CIO Council on February 25. I will read the last paragraph of the letter which deals with the threat of a “right-to-work” bill in our state.”
Open all letters when they are received and show them to the officers. Give the proper letters to the committee chair. When a letter deals with a subject that is the responsibility of a committee, that letter should be passed on to the committee chair immediately. For example, if the local received a letter from the District announcing the District Summer Leadership Training Institute, that letter should be immediately directed to the attention of the chair of the education committee.
Some large locals may find copying machines useful. Where this is not possible, it is a good idea to put a routing slip on the top of the letter. List all the people who should see the letter, in the proper order. When one person has seen it, he/she crosses-off his/her name and pass it on to the next person on the list.
Regardless of who is writing the letter, before it is written decide what you want to say. Often it takes a good deal of thought to get the situation clear in your own mind and to organize your ideas. Think over the purpose of the letter. Why are you writing it? What point do you want to make? What are you asking for in the letter? What information do you want? In the first paragraph, explain the subject of the letter – what it is about.
The next paragraphs should give all the important facts or information. Remember that the person receiving the letter does not know as much as you do about the problem or the local. Tell the individual what needs to be known.
Write letters as if you were talking. Avoid big words. Use common every day language and short sentences. This makes your meaning clear.
Stick to one subject in a letter. Always include your name and office or title in the local; the local number; the address to which you want the reply sent.
Keep a carbon copy of all important local correspondence and keep an adequate file of correspondence.
The purpose of filing is to keep letters and records that the local may need in the future. It is not necessary to keep every piece of correspondence or every leaflet that the local receives. However, when in doubt, it is best to save it — then go through the files once a year and throw out all materials no longer useful.
Some letters should be given to committee chairs, and they should make the decision whether to keep them. (Information, for example, on current bills in the state legislature might logically be passed on to the Legislative Chair.) Official letters from the International or District should be kept and filed. Copies of all official letters written by the local on important local business should be kept for several years. Clip the copy and the answer together. Correspondence files, such as these, are the property of the local. When the secretary goes out of office, he or she should turn them over to the new secretary immediately.
Every local should keep a file of written grievances. This type of file may be kept by the date the grievance was written. Or it may be kept by the subject of the grievance – a file on seniority grievances, a file on overtime grievances, rate grievances, safety grievances, etc.
A file should also be kept on every arbitration case, containing all background materials, the brief, etc.
Other files the local may wish to maintain for bargaining or grievance purposes are:
Minutes of grievance meetings.
Copies of company posters or notices to employees regarding hours, vacation, etc.
Reports published by the company on the insurance plan, number of pensioners, etc.
Literature from the International Education, Publicity, or other Departments.
Important records of committee activities should be kept. For example, there should be a file of local newspapers, or handbills, publicity releases to newspapers, etc.
Committees will find it helpful to keep files of information that may help them in their work – Legislative Bulletins, Education Bulletins, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, etc.
A Word of Caution:
`The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” Cesar Chavez
Your job is a difficult one at best and vitally important to your local union. DO NOT HESITATE TO DEMAND TIME TO DO IT RIGHT! If motions are made too fast to write down at the time . . . ask for a restatement by the maker so you can get it in writing correctly.
You will be held accountable for it later and should make sure it’s correct!
Some locals require that motions be re-read BEFORE the members vote. This requires the Recording Secretary to have the motion written down accurately!
Don’t assume everyone understands words to mean the same thing.
Your language should be as clear and uncomplicated as it can be. Re-read your written words from the viewpoint of a person who knows nothing about the subject … you will be surprised at the results.
Avoid the multi-syllable words which may not impress but CAN confuse others. Those “$5 words” tend to clutter the thought you want to come through … especially when the reader is unfamiliar with your terms.
Use simple short sentences that make single points. Wherever possible, avoid tying many ideas together with all those “and,” “but” and “alsos.”
Some Helpful Suggestions To Try
The following is offered as one system by which note-taking can help the Recording Secretary do the job of assuring accurate minutes:
A loose-leaf binder (with plenty of paper) should be used to take down the rough notes of the meeting.
The notes should be made on ONE SIDE of the paper ONLY!
Notes taken in previous meetings should be preserved in the binder for quick reference if needed at later meetings.
A listing of old business referred to the current meeting (if any) should be listed at the top of the page for quick reference.
As Recording Secretary, you should develop a “shorthand” of your own by which commonly used words or phrases can be abbreviated. “Moved and Supported” can be shortened to M/S, for example.
Protecting the funds and assets of the Local is the fundamental job of the Treasurer. Treasurers must carry out their duties and make sure that they comply with:
Union and Local Policies
The Duties and Responsibilities of the Treasurer are to:
Share in responsibility of internal and external organizing. (The H-166 can be helpful in targeting internal organizing efforts.)
Make worksite visits. (All officers should talk with the members at different worksites occasionally.)
Provide communication link between members and the President.
Perform all duties as required by the CWA Constitution and Local Bylaws.
Prepare budget in consultation with other officers.
Maintain financial records.
Receive funds due to the Local, including dues payments from the International, cash dues, initiation fees, etc.
Handle expenditure of funds.
Secure authorization, documentation and explanation.
Keep bank account records.
Report on finances to Local.
Report to membership.
Furnish financial statement to International.
Maintain records on employees.
Prepare Forms W-4, W-2, W-3, 1-9.
Prepare Forms 1099, 1096.
Prepare Journal Ledger.
Meet Federal Report requirements. LM reports.
Form 990 Unemployment Compensation Form 940 Quarterly tax report Form 941
Meet state, county, city report requirements.
Arrange for annual audit.
Handle bonding coverage.
Manage Local’s assets.
Invest Local funds consistent with sound accounting practices and policies of the Local.
We strongly recommend that you take a few days and work through this list. Familiarize yourself with each of these documents and requirements. As you go through these items, note information that you may want to refer back to at a later date. If you have any questions on these items, ask your Local President or your Staff Representative.
Review CWA Constitutional requirements for Treasurer (See CWA Constitution Articles VI and XIII, Section 9.)
Review Local Bylaws requirements for Treasurer. Highlight sections in Bylaws for future reference. Remember, the Bylaws will give you authorization for certain payments and may require specific actions. Also review the Local’s operating practices or standing rules on ongoing expenses.
Review fiduciary responsibilities of Local Officers.
Review bonding requirements. Make sure that all Local Officers who handle union funds are properly bonded. This is a CWA Constitutional requirement. Bonding coverage should be a minimum of ten percent of total assets.
Review Local budgets from previous years. Calculate what percentage of total dues income was spent on each line item last year. This will help you assess where the money is being spent and may identify areas that need to be examined by the Board.
Review previous financial reports to members. You should make a special effort to see that financial reports are easy to understand and that they reach all the membership, not just those who come to membership meetings. When members know where the money goes, they are more likely to support the union and its programs.
Review bank accounts. Bank accounts should be in the name of the Local. The Local Bylaws should require that all checks be signed by two officers. This is also a recommendation of the U.S. Department of Labor and most auditors.
Review the Local’s procedures and policies for payment of bills. Local Union funds should be disbursed only by check. The only exception is a petty cash account. When a payment is issued, the invoice or statement should be marked paid, dated and the check number noted. This will safeguard against duplicate payment. Remember all expenditures of Local Union funds must have authorization documentation and explanation.
Review the Local’s procedures and policies for payment of expenses.
Review H-166 and make sure you understand what all the information means. Note trends, increases or decreases in members or nonmembers in certain locations, bargaining units, etc.
Review federal forms and report requirements LM and 990. Locate previous years federal forms and reports and briefly review.
Review applicable federal, state and city taxes paid in previous years. For example, payroll tax, real estate, withholding tax, etc.
Review how long you must keep Local financial records. (Five years in most cases)
Review the Local’s procedures for an annual audit. This is a constitutional requirement. If the Local uses an outside audit firm, you should set up an appointment to introduce yourself to the auditor.
“A woman’s place is in her union.” Coalition of Labor Union Women (CL UVV)
As elected officials, you are responsible for safeguarding the local union’s assets and assuring that the finances are handled in accordance with the IUE Constitution, by-laws and code of ethics.
Your observance of the “Basic Trustee Procedures” will assist you in properly discharging these responsibilities.
Basic Trustee Procedures:
When Required by International And Local Constitution:
Examination of Cash Receipts Records:
Examine all documents in support of entries in cash receipts record, including company check-off letters, duplicate copies of receipts for cash dues, steward’s receipts, etc.
Check totals in cash receipts book for possible errors in addition.
Trace receipts to deposits shown by bank statements or entries in savings accounts passbooks.
Examination of Cash Disbursement Records:
The trustees should satisfy themselves that every entry in the cash disbursement record is supported by a properly approved voucher.
The vouchers should be examined in detail.
All canceled checks received from the bank should be checked back to the disbursement record, and the date, payee, number, amount, and endorsements checked. Determine that the checks are signed by the proper local officers.
Check totals in cash disbursement book for possible errors in addition.
Examine check book to determine that blank checks are not signed in advance.
Reconciliation of Cash Balance per Books with Balance per Bank Statement
Determine amount of deposits in transit at end of month. This amount should represent receipts recorded immediately prior to date of bank statement.
Determine amount of checks outstanding (i.e. checks issued and recorded which have not been returned by bank).
To the balance shown by the bank statement, add the deposits in transit and deduct the outstanding checks. The results total should equal the cash balance shown by the books.
Keep a complete inventory and make a periodic accounting for all furniture and equipment.
Verify all investments (bonds, etc.) and real estate. Determine that such items are properly titled to the local union.
Determine that adequate insurance, such as fidelity bonds, fire, burglary and liability, is carried for the protection of the local.
Make report on examination to membership and executive board meetings.
Determine that all receipts from fund-raising activities (dinners, etc.) are properly recorded on local’s records.
On expiration of term, relinquish all work papers and other data to newly elected trustees.
The trustees should familiarize themselves with the requirement of the IUE Code of Ethical Practices, their local union’s constitution and by-laws and any other documents governing the administration of the local’s financial affairs. They should exercise the utmost care and diligence in satisfying themselves that the local’s finances are being administered in accordance with the requirements set forth in such documents.