Dear Mr. Pallotta:
We are members of the UFT in NYC. Recently we have been reviewing Robert’s Rule of Order as it pertains to remote meetings. There’s been a large increase in member participation which is a potentially positive development. There were 2,094 members attending the January D.A. This is a big increase over the typical turnout at Albert Shanker Hall. It’s unfortunate that so few resolutions on issues related to teaching during the pandemic have been allowed to reach the floor for debate.
We are alarmed at how these sessions are carried out. Members are muted, unable to freely ask questions, they cannot engage easily in Delegate Assembly for motions, and someone screens questions ahead of time (so people known to be vocal or problematic will not be called on).
Additionally, the rules for remote DAs eliminated the ability of participants to raise a point of order, a point of information, a point of personal privilege or any other motion that interrupts debate. The body is ultimately responsible for enforcing its rules, not the president or even the parliamentarian.
We read Robert’s Rules of Order on electronic meetings after a UFT Solidarity motion against Remote Danielson was ignored. We believe the way the UFT does them is not exactly proper. For an electronic meeting, a group using Robert’s Rules of Order must have “conditions of opportunity for simultaneous aural communication among all participating members equivalent to those held in one room or area.”
Having someone screen questions and not being able to make a motion would not meet that definition. Eliminating the ability of participants to raise a point of order or a point of information does not meet this definition as well. Pressing 0 should be all a member needs to do to get to the floor.
We want NYSUT to direct the UFT to follow the UFT Constitution which mandates the use of Robert’s Rules. Doing so would inform union locals to change the way they do meetings, assemblies, and town halls. We want our union local and other locals in NYS to engage in democratic discourse and not a watered-down version meant to stifle dissent.
FYI, here is a link to the sample electronic rules that do not include limits on member rights.
Please let us know when you receive this and when you plan to motivate the UFT to make these changes.
Lydia Howrilka, James Eterno, John Lawhead and Quinn Zannoni
UFT SolidarityBuilding a Stronger Union. Brick by Brick.
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