Wait, when are unit elections?
Per our local’s Bylaws, unit officers are elected annually “in January or February.” Each unit must send notice of the date and time for unit officer nominations 20 days in advance of the meeting. Ask your unit officers when elections will be held! If you have more questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The earliest you can hold the nomination meeting is Jan. 1, which is a holiday (it’s a Monday this year). To hold your nominations on Jan. 1, you’d have to send out a notice of the meeting by Dec. 12).
How do I even run for office?
Your unit will hold a nominating meeting. At the nominating meeting, have someone nominate you or nominate yourself! If more than one person runs for the same office, our local Election Committee will coordinate a mail-in ballot election with the candidates. Every member of your unit will get a ballot that they will have to mail back to be counted.
Do I have enough experience to run for office?
We are going to hold a day-long training session for new officers in early 2024, so you can ask all sorts of questions and make connections to get all the help you need! After that, there are workshops and trainings to build your skills provided by our local and The NewsGuild!
How do you think the folks who are holding those offices today got their experience? By stepping up! You don’t have to memorize the contract to be a unit officer! It’s not about the job you take, it’s about the work you want to do! If you want to do something, or want your local or your unit to do something, that’s the best reason to run for office! Chances are, that current officer you think has tons of experience would really like your help and is happy to teach you what they know!
What unit officer jobs are up for election?
Local bylaws set out that each unit shall elect at least three offices: a unit chair, a delegate to the local Executive Board, and an alternate delegate. Most units also elect additional officers, such as a Vice Chair or Secretary.
What do delegates do? They represent your unit at Executive Board meetings, which are held in even-numbered months (so, six times a year) where representatives from every unit vote on things like our local’s budget. Starting in 2024, delegates will be expected to serve on one or more standing committees of the local— so don’t run for delegate because someone told you that you just have to show up for meetings every other month!
What committees are there and what do they do?
Lots of stuff– historically, they haven’t been that active, but that ends in 2024! Below are the titles of all the committees mentioned in our local bylaws, and (if you were on the committee) you could add specific issues or projects you’d like our local to address to the duties of any committee, and we can create other committees as needed!
Finance Committee, which drafts the annual budget for the local– want to know how money is spent, or want funds for a special project for our members? Run for delegate and get on the Finance Committee! Also approves large expenditures and consults on employee raises and benefits.
Personnel Committee, which this year will be drafting a new personnel policy to replace the one we’ve had since 1993. We’ll also likely be revisiting employee benefits packages, and are looking for ways to spend money that will get our members more engaged? Does that mean appropriating money for everyone to get a copy of “Legal Rights of Union Stewards” or a Chicago Guild T-shirt? A Guild-wide bowling tournament?
Bylaws, Legal Affairs and Professional Concerns: deals with changes to our bylaws– which need to be reviewed this year, because our committees need better names and clearer functions. Also, The NewsGuild Constitution was amended this year to require us to remove gendered language (he/she, his/hers, etc) from our bylaws. Our local also needs to address serious professional concerns related to Artificial Intelligence– which our employers are hoping will be able to write news articles or translate court hearings.
Elections and Special Events Committee conducts elections– if there is a contested race in your unit, the Elections Committee will inform you of the rules and monitor the voting process. They also come up with the slate of delegates we send to our international convention (but there is no convention this year).
Office & Technology Committee oversees our local’s office needs, which are kind of in flux lately. Our current offices are in a co-working space in the Loop, and we have discussed relocating to space inside another union hall or just to a more convenient location for members, as historically, our office space is seldom visited by members.
Human Rights, Health & Safety Committee is generally supposed to monitor and research human rights abuses, but we have used this committee in the past to coordinate volunteer opportunities for our members and to aid local members in distress.
Organizing & Tactical Negotiating Team plans our outreach to potential new members and training for members on organizing, building their units’ steward team and planning trainings for the Steward Council (made up of stewards from all our units) and for bargaining campaigns.
Special and ad hoc committees: Got an issue you think our local needs to address, and want a team of members from across the local to help? We can create any committees we want! Make a suggestion!
I'm a current unit officer. What should I do to get ready for elections?
Set a date for your nominating meeting and send an email announcement to all your members. Here is some sample language– but you should feel free to make the message not boring! We’re trying to get people fired up to run for office! Democracy is awesome! Here is sample language to use for your unit’s nomination notice.
Maybe this should be Step 1, but start updating your member rosters ASAP– in the event of a run-off, you will need to mail ballots to members’ homes, so you need mailing addresses and will need current phone and email contacts to keep them informed. You can send a request for information to your Human Resources contact at your shop and request the information, or have your stewards start reaching out to members.
You should also start reaching out to members in your unit whom you think have leadership potential and get them to run for office!
I'm a current unit officer. How do I get people to run for unit office?
You probably already know the people you wish would step up and help out as officers: the folks who have great ideas in unit meetings, the folks who people in your unit respect and listen to, the folks who have connections and trust with members all over the shop. Talk to them! Be positive! Elections are a great way to get your unit members engaged around issues facing the unit and goals for the next year!