This is the fourth installment in a series of posts designed to explain the structure and function of your union. Knowing how your union works and who to contact when you have questions or issues you want addressed will help you make the most of your career. Today we’re looking at the inner-workings of MEC Meetings.
The MEC meets at least three, but usually four, times per year for Regular MEC Meetings. “Regular” means it is one of the regularly scheduled meetings, typically held quarterly, and the MEC can conduct regular work (like elections and full committee/officer reports). “Special” Meetings can also be called when the MEC needs to meet about a specific issue before the next regular meeting. Special meetings are common during active negotiations so the MEC can provide direction to the Negotiating Committee.
The typical regular meeting includes reports from each of the MEC officers, presentations from our MEC-level committees (we’ll talk more about committees in a later installment), and consideration of proposed resolutions. Meetings sometimes include guest speakers, from the president of ALPA, to Delta leadership, to representatives from other ALPA carriers, other union leaders or industry experts. All pilots are welcome to attend the open session portions of any MEC meeting.
MEC meetings are governed by a combination of the ALPA Constitution and by-laws, the Delta MEC Policy Manual and Robert’s Rules of Order. The result is a set of rules and procedures that allow the representatives to make decisions efficiently while preserving all due regard for the rights of the minority. If you attend a meeting, you’ll hear terms you may recognize from attending a local city council meeting or following Congress.
Most actions (considering a proposed resolution, changing the session from open to closed, adjourning the meeting, etc.) require a motion by one representative, a “second” from another, followed by debate and a vote of the members of the MEC. When a vote is held, each voting representative will vote (or abstain). All of these actions are recorded in the Secretary’s minutes. (Technically, nearly everything requires a vote. But often when the will of the group is clear, the chairman will propose a particular course of action without calling for a vote. If any member objects, then a vote would be held.)
Here are some common terms you may hear at a meeting:
Open Session/Closed Session: Presentations and discussions are typically held in open session, unless the material covered is confidential. The portions of a meeting that are held in closed session are not recorded in the meeting minutes or summary, and only those who are necessary to conduct the business can stay in the room. The most common reasons to close a meeting are: (i) the MEC is receiving confidential information (from the Company or another source), and (ii) the MEC is discussing strategy for negotiations or other purposes.
Executive Session: The MEC also has the option to discuss portions of the meeting in executive session, a version of closed session where only the MEC representatives and officers (and possibly select personnel) remain in the room.
Council Caucus: This is a break with a particular purpose: to allow the representatives from a council to discuss an upcoming vote or other issue amongst themselves, outside of the meeting and rules of order. Usually each council’s representatives meet separately, but sometimes subject matter experts are requested when relevant to the discussion.
Speaker’s List: When a representative wants to ask a question of the presenter or address the MEC, he or she is put on the speaker’s list and given the opportunity to speak in order.
The MEC acts through resolutions, which are normally written, debated by the body, subject to a vote and then reported in the meeting minutes. The MEC Policy Manual contains rules encouraging members to submit proposed agenda items well in advance of the meeting to allow the other members to prepare. Each resolution is assigned to one of three “drafting committees,” which are smaller groups where MEC members discuss the proposals and develop recommendations. Each drafting committee then presents its recommendations to the full body for debate and a vote. Results of these votes can be found in the resolution tracking document on the Secretary’s Page.
The MEC can act informally, too. This often happens with respect to MEC committees, when the MEC, by majority, tells the committee how/if they should pursue an issue or idea. In most cases, the ultimate result will be addressed through a formal MEC vote. For example, the MEC may informally advise the Communications Committee to explore an option before formally providing direction to pursue a particular course of action. Then, if necessary, the MEC will vote on the action. This process ensures oversight of the actions of the MEC committees and administration.
All pilots are invited and encouraged to attend MEC meetings. Meetings give you a chance to learn more about how your union operates and meet the people making decisions for Delta pilots.
If you can’t attend a meeting, you can still follow along. For live updates, check out our Delta MEC Comm Twitter account during the meeting. We also post the daily overview on our Facebook page and a full summary of each day’s meeting is typically posted and emailed to the pilot membership the following day on alpa.org/dal (i.e. Monday’s summary is distributed on Tuesday). Meeting minutes, resolution tracking and presentations are posted on the Secretary’s Page.
And if you have an idea that you would like the MEC to pursue, you can bring a proposed resolution to your own local council for discussion at a local meeting. If your council supports the proposal, your representative can put it on the agenda for an MEC meeting. We’ll cover local council and MEC level resolutions in detail in a later installment of this series.