Reflections on attending November 12th’s board meeting

On Wednesday, November 12th, Cassie Galentine, Tamara Niella, and I went to our union’s executive board meeting. Our executive board consists of ten officers: President, Organizing, Grievances, Political Education, External Relations, Operations, Member Communications, Membership, Equity and Inclusion, and Treasurer. Our board meetings are public, or at least open to members of our union.

Tamara and I met up at a nearby Starbucks before walking over together. After picking up a half-caf Americano, we walked a block to get to our union office, where most of the board had already arrived as well as Cassie. Despite being a board member myself last year, I admit to feeling awkward entering that backroom space where our union conducts board meetings. Tamara and I pulled out chairs and squeezed into the space; the meeting began without introductions beyond ‘hellos’ from a few friends.

While we gave a heads-up as to our attendance, we didn’t get any access to a meeting agenda, and were left to follow along what was brought up. The board proceeded to approve their agenda, and approve the minutes from previous meetings. I believe minutes are accessible to members upon request, though they aren’t currently available on our website.

The meeting began with a discussion by Marchman that concerned various points: membership cards had been sorted, he had a meeting with an AFT data analyst, he spoke to a member of the Labor Education Resource Center (LERC) on campus, discussed organizing a webinar around Jane McAlevey’s work, brought up a hundred dollar donation from an old member, and the fact that Oregon State University (OSU) is in the midst of bargaining their contract and would welcome support. OSU members routinely came to support our bargaining sessions, and I have a fond memory of Nick Fisher helping us move signs back to the office while discussing his work on bees with me.

Alberto, our Treasurer, discussed budget items and the need to approve budget changes at a General Membership Meeting (GMM) as per our bylaws. The board discussed the upcoming executive council (ecouncil) meeting, for ecouncils have the task of approving GMM agendas. We have an upcoming ecouncil this Wednesday, where we’ll approve the GMM agenda. It is the case that ecouncil members (stewards, caucus chairs, and to be honest, regular members) can submit our own agenda items.

There was extended discussion of the GMM agenda. The board proposed a budget discussion, political endorsements, “we won a contract (what is it)?”, and officer/caucus reports. There was also discussion of an item about organizing around international GEs, but it was not clear to me what that would be or who was taking on the work of producing it. Multiple board members expressed the feeling that members are checked out, with one board member commenting that “people are gonna be like, ‘we got a contract’ and move on…” On this sentiment, I feel it’s still our job to tell them it’s time to move forward and not away.

The board brought up that Jess Neafie is no longer going to serve on our Health Care Trust, which manages our health insurance. The President has the right to appoint a willing member to the trust, and this is a good chance to seek out someone willing to step into a leadership role. As some members have reported issues with our health insurance plan when it comes to being covered for chronic pain treatment, it would be wonderful to have a thoughtful member who recognizes the distinction between cure-oriented and therapy-oriented medicine. The board tossed around the names folks who’d served in leadership for a time.

Morgan (Membership) brought up the idea of meeting up to do fiber arts. The board was enthusiastic about the idea of meeting to build community, support, and scarves. Discussion touched on getting supplies for interested people to participate.

The meeting concluded with announcements. Rajeev (External) shared that Sunrise Eugene would be holding a die-in from 1-3pm in the Erb Memorial Student Union (EMU) on Friday, November 15th. Sunrise Eugene is a part of the Sunrise Movement, which describes itself as a group of young people fighting to stop climate change. Its members consists of many undergrads who came out to support our actions over the last months, and I expect our members to support them in kind. Alberto (Treasurer) and Marchman (our staff organizer) announced again that OSU would be bargaining that day as well; Marchman offered to drive up anyone interested.

The meeting ended just about an hour in; as Cassie, Tammy and I had expected to be there until 12pm, we stopped at the nearby Starbucks to decompress and discuss. We reflected on the experience: it was an unfamiliar, at times intimidating space. We also felt it was good to have attended, and plan to keep doing so; though ideally, we take turns so we give each other breaks. Thanks again, Cassie and Tammy, for coming and take notes (which I relied on heavily to refresh my memory for this post). Cassie has also generously shared her notes from the meeting, and you can find them below.

-Ric

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