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Summer in Review: Parliamentary Procedure and Bylaws Workshops

By Sean Lundergan, Boyle Fellow

Patti Legault-Frank, a longtime parliamentarian and governance specialist, ran a two-day workshop series at the Guild in July that provided in-depth instruction on parliamentary procedure and bylaws. The first of the three-hour sessions covered both organization-specific rules and Robert’s Rules of Order, and it brought some life to a topic that’s often seen as byzantine and tedious. She discussed the relevant roles individuals may play within meetings and the ways that knowledge of procedure can translate into power.

With that background on rules of procedure, students returned the following night for a session on the role of bylaws. Legault-Frank emphasized the importance of writing unambiguous, complete clauses into bylaws, and of reading those bylaws critically and carefully; she ended the session by answering questions from students, facilitating class-wide discussion and weighing in on parliamentary and bylaw-related issues students faced in their own unions.

We were lucky to have several organizations represented both nights, with students from Carpenters Local 346, Carmen Local 589, Carpenters Local 339, Plumbers Local 12, South Asian Workers’ Center, Iron Workers Local 7, and AFSCME Local 1700. The workshops equipped these workers with a deeper understanding of their organizations’ internal structure, and they served as a successful conclusion to our summer sessions.

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