Rules of Order for Branch Meetings
The By-Laws of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association state that Advice on the Conduct of Meetings, published by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, supplemented by Robert’s Rules of Order, shall govern procedures of all meetings when not inconsistent with the Constitution and By-Laws. The suggested order of business for the conducting of a meeting is as follows:
1. Call to Order
The chairperson calls the meeting to order with a statement such as: “The meeting will now come to order.” If the president is not present, the meeting may be called to order by the vice-president, or by any designated person.
2. Adoption of Agenda
It is a practice to circulate copies of the agenda of the meeting in advance. The meeting should begin with the consideration of the agenda. The chairperson will ask if any of the members have additional matters which should be placed on the agenda. After these have been taken care of, the chairperson will make a statement such as: “If there are no further items to be added to the agenda, would somebody move that the agenda be adopted?” The member should then move: “That the agenda be adopted.” or “Adopted as amended.” A seconder is required.
The chairperson asks if there are any errors or omissions in the minutes of the preceding meeting. It is more efficient to have these minutes prepared and distributed rather than having the secretary read the minutes since this is sometimes a tedious exercise. The chairperson will ask “if there are no errors or omissions then a motion to adopt the minutes is in order.”
A member should then move: “That the minutes of the (date) meeting be approved as presented.” In less formal meetings it is sufficient for the chairperson, if no one answers the call for errors or omissions, to say, “There being no errors or omissions, I declare the minutes of the (date) meeting approved as read.” Should there be a mistake in the minutes, it is proper for any member to rise and point out the error. The secretary should then make an appropriate correction or addition. The motion will then read “…approved as amended.”
4. Executive Minutes
At a branch meeting the minutes of the previous executive meeting may be read or distributed or highlighted at this point. One purpose is to give information to the membership about items of business that have been handled by the executive. Occasionally a member will ask for more information regarding the matters disposed of by the executive, and sometimes the general meeting will want to change the action taken by the executive. Such cases are rare, but it must be remembered that the executive committee is responsible to the membership as a whole.
On important matters of business, the executive committee may have been able to arrive at recommendations that can later be considered by the general meeting. The presentation of the executive minutes or relevant sections of the minutes can therefore prepare the membership for the discussion of important business on the agenda of the general meeting. The executive minutes are not adopted or amended until the next executive meeting (having been presented to the general meeting for information only).
The chairperson now calls upon the treasurer to present a report on the finances of the branch. For a regular meeting this need be only a simple statement of the receipts and disbursements since the last financial report, the balance of money held in the account of the branch, and some information about bills that need to be paid. The treasurer will either begin or conclude the report with a motion: “That this report be received.” At the annual meeting the treasurer should submit a detailed record of the financial business of the year and this report should be audited (i.e. checked thoroughly by at least two persons other than the treasurer, to ensure that they present fairly the final position of the branch and the results of its operations for the year).
Although it is not necessary, as indicated above, to have a motion to “adopt” the treasurer’s report at a monthly meeting, it is advisable to adopt the audited annual report. The treasurer should move: “That this report be adopted.”
Before the meeting, the secretary, in consultation with the chairperson, should separate the correspondence received into two groups – those requiring action and the others. Correspondence that will probably require no action is either copied and distributed, read or summarized by the secretary. Usually it is sufficient to have one motion – “That the correspondence be received and filed.” Correspondence that requires action by the meeting will then be dealt with one at a time. The chairperson may state, that action on this correspondence will be delayed until “New Business” or may prefer to have discussion on each item at this point. Each item of correspondence in this group will require a separate motion to dispose of it.
7. Unfinished Business
Any business that has been postponed from a previous meeting, or that was pending when the last meeting adjourned, is called “old” or “unfinished” business or “business arising from the minutes.” It is advisable for the chairperson to remind the meeting of the history of this business before discussion begins or call upon someone with special information to do this.
8. Committee Reports
Before the meeting, the chairperson should check with committee chairpersons to determine which committees have reports ready for the meeting.
In establishing the order in which committees should be heard, usually, standing committees are given precedence over special or ad hoc committees. (A standing committee is one that functions over an extended period of time; a special or ad hoc committee is set up to deal with a special problem and is discharged when its task is completed.)
Committee reports should be copied to facilitate business and a copy should be placed in the branch’s files.
Before presenting (or after concluding) a report, the chairperson of a committee will move: “That this report be received.” This motion is seconded and is usually passed without debate. Questions may then be asked of the committee chairperson. Recommendations given in the report are then considered one by one, unless the meeting agrees otherwise. Each will require a motion: “That recommendation number __ be adopted.” Amendments may be proposed by any member at the meeting. After all the recommendations have been dealt with, motions may be received from the floor dealing with the substance of the report or the work of the committee concerned. Finally, the committee chairperson moves: “That this report be adopted.” (or “…adopted as amended.”)
Occasionally it becomes evident that the report of a committee, or one of the recommendations, is not acceptable to a large proportion of the membership present at the meeting. In such cases a motion will sometimes be made to refer the particular recommendation, or even the whole report, back to the committee for further study and report to a later meeting. The committee will be asked to review its work in light of the discussion heard.
9. New Business
When all unfinished business has been disposed of, the chairperson will say: “New Business is now in order.” Any member who wishes may now bring up new items for consideration if the agenda has been adopted earlier, items of new business are now taken in order.
The chairperson should give committee chairpersons and others an opportunity to make special announcements.
When the branch is to hear a special speaker, it may be advisable to have the speaker before the official business begins, i.e. after the agenda has been adopted. In other cases the program occurs at this place in the agenda. The chairperson of the meeting may ask the program chairperson to take charge at this point.
This motion requires a mover and seconder and is voted on without amendment or debate.