Canada Employment and Immigration Union -

Local Administration

Key administrative practices

The local executive as a whole is responsible for the administration of the local, but much of the work falls to the local secretary or secretary-treasurer. The information below provides useful tools to aid in the administration of local unions, but, as always, local officers are urged to take advantage of training opportunities and union support resources in their effort to become sound administrators.

Minutes of executive and membership meetings

The secretary or secretary-treasurer takes the minutes of meetings and is responsible for maintaining these records and distributing them appropriately. There is no expectation that a verbatim record be kept. Instead, meeting minutes need to convey, briefly, the substance of the proceedings and the decisions taken.

The traditional format of meeting minutes captures the following information:

  • The nature of the meeting (annual general membership, executive, special membership)
  • The particulars of date, time (including start and adjournment times), place
  • The names of the chairperson of the meeting, the secretary and other local officers in attendance
  • The number of members present
  • The particulars of decisions taken (adoption of minutes from the previous meeting, movers and seconders of motions and the decisions taken, reports received)
  • The nomination and election of members to various positions

Members new to the position of secretary will likely find the minutes kept by their predecessor a useful guide. When assuming the job of secretary, a critical first step is obtaining minutes of past meetings from the previous occupant of the position.

Managing the storage of information

As the chief information officer of the local, the secretary must maintain an appropriate storage system. This does not have to be complex to succeed. Information categories suggest themselves easily, and typically include training, collective bargaining, grievances, membership records, meeting minutes, and committee reports.

The system for managing information will be a combination of paper and digital formats, and the usual precautions regarding privacy and security apply to both. If filing cabinets are used, they should be located in appropriate locations and kept locked. Digital files should be kept on a secure computer (not on a system owned by the employer). If a local wishes to store files on a commercial internet server dedicated to this purpose, it should investigate carefully the firm operating the service and protect the files it stores through reputable encryption software. Information on PGP encryption is available here.

Managing the distribution of information

Information will flow to the local secretary from a number of sources. Letters, reports, membership printouts, and cheques all need to be routed appropriately. There are a limited number of destinations for this information and they are:

  • The local executive. If the communications received must be acted upon by the executive as a whole or an individual member of it (the treasurer, for example), the secretary must first decide the urgency of the matter. If the required action can wait until the next executive meeting, the matter should be filed for review at that time. If the matter is urgent, it should be referred immediately to the local president.
  • The membership. Some information received must be dealt with at a general membership meeting. If the local executive has taken action on an item, it is appropriate to inform the membership. Other matters may be beyond the authority of the executive and must be put to the members for a decision.
  • Committees of the local. Correspondence to local committees should be given to the committee chairperson with whatever instructions are necessary. There will be issues on which the committee must make recommendations for the consideration of the executive or local membership and others requiring action by the committee itself. In all instances, the secretary should create an appropriate trail of the route, timelines and instructions accompanying each document.
  • The CEIU Regional Union Office. Changes to the local executive and steward body, amendments to local rules and the minutes of local membership meetings should be sent the the CEIU Regional Union Office responsible for the local.

Similarly, the local will generate information destined for a variety of recipients and the secretary should manage this in an organized fashion.

The popularity of e-mail can make the distribution of information easier for all concerned within the local, but only if it is used carefully. Poor e-mail practices encourage recipients to ignore or delete messages and the secretary should take the lead in avoiding them. E-mail practices continue to evolve and local leaders should adopt better methods as they emerge.

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