Discuss the proposed Coop By-laws


#21

Ah, right. Yesterday was the last day. My mistake.


#22

The final version of the bylaws are finally completed and ready for review:

English: https://mayfirst.org/files/bylaws.en.pdf
Spanish: https://mayfirst.org/files/bylaws.es.pdf

The leadership committee carefully took into account this entire discussion and made a number of changes in response. The changes don’t perfectly meet everyone’s requests, but we tried our best.

In particular:

  1. The “Workers” committee is changed to “Worker Review” committee
  2. We clarify that the guarantee of proportional representation on the Board for organizations we have a special relationship with (i.e. Mexico Coop) only applies to the board members elected at large and not the board members reserved for the workers.
  3. We clarify that proportional representation means it is based on the number of members from the organization with the special relationship relative to our total membership.
  4. We clarify that all members vote for all candidates (in practice it means we don’t limit Mexican members to just voting for the Mexican candidates and the rest of our members to just voting for the other candidates). Instead we all vote for everyone
  5. For reasons of brevity and simplicity we did not mandate how these elections would operate exactly, but I think there is general agreement that Mexican candidates will only run against Mexican candidates for the available seats allocated to them and all other candidates will only run against the other candidates eligible for the remaining seats.
  6. After a lenghty discussion, we removed the race and gender requirements for the board as a whole based on a belief that it would be too hard and manipulative to enforce.
  7. Based on a discussion, we chose not to limit the mission to just digital technology based on the belief that keeping it open does not hinder us while keeping our future more flexible.

#23

Also, the date for the vote to begin is set for June 11 and will last a week. On June 11, everyone will get an email with a voting token.


#24

Life issues have prevented my usual attention to such matters, so please excuse this late injection.

I never heard of a Subchapter T corporation form until today from another venue. And I do not know anything about New York laws or this IRS? category.

The link was this rather lopsided discussion: Subchapter T corp

Might it be relevant?

Further details:

Disco Duck


#25

https://www.wegnercpas.com/worker-co-ops-operating-under-subchapter-t-and-the-new-tax-law/

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/subtitle-A/chapter-1/subchapter-T


#26

Thanks for your links and though on subchapter T. I had never heard of it. However, the main benefit seems to be avoiding the payment of taxes. Since we are moving forward as a non profit membership organization (and still retaining our 501c3) we won’t be paying taxes anyway. In fact, I think we do not apply to the subchapter T rules because we are a nonprofit.


#27

I am coming this organization with little knowledge of background or context. I am aligned with your purposes and want to support the development of co-op platforms such as this. I have some experience with democratic organizations and bylaws and see a lot of good stuff in these but also some serious problems and gaps that will catch us up down the road.

Would it be better for me to enter each issue as a separate post or everything in one post all together? (I am thinking separate posts would make it less likely for something the get dropped.) Or is it too late to make significant changes?


#28

Hi Scott, it’s too late to propose any changes much less significant changes for the upcoming vote.

The by-laws being proposed are the result of a 6 month process starting at the end of last year involving dozens of members meeting fairly regularly in real time and also on this forum. Based on all the feedback and a review by our lawyer from the Urban Justice Center, our Leadership Committee approved the final wording that you are seeing.

That doesn’t mean they are no gaps or problems with the by-laws, or that the by-laws cannot be changed at a future date - it just means we’ve closed the period for changes on this round and are asking members to review them and ask clarifying questions prior to voting.

If you see gaps or problems, please feel free to share them here now. It’s possible we actually have considered them and a discussion might be enlightening for you or other members reading the forum. Or, if there are gaps that have not been considered, the discussion can serve as a basis for the next round of changes.


#29

Ok. That makes sense. I didn’t think you would be able to make changes at this point but I think it’s too bad there wasn’t a period for the wider membership to chime in (if there was, I apologize for not paying attention).


A.
One of the biggest issues is the membership quorum of 100 members. That’s not very many in what I assume could be a membership in the thousands or millions.

Compounding that is the ability to propose actions that are not on the agenda of an annual meeting. (Only special meetings require notice to include the meeting’s purpose.) It could be quite easy for a few people to take over the resources of the organization.


B.
Section II.4 says the quorum only counts those who participate in person or by proxy but not electronically and II.6 allows members to participate electronically.


C.
There is mention (II.6) of remote voting lasting seven days. This implies that decisions will not be resolved until after the meeting is over and the seven days have gone by.

II.6 only allows members who are those present (in person or electronically) a vote. I think voting needs to be open to the whole membership for the seven days after the meeting and if so, I think there should be a requirement to record all meetings and make them available to the membership so folks are educated on the issues.

There are decisions that require all members or a majority of members. I doubt if we would be able to get all or a majority of members to a meeting. This also argues for votes outside of meetings and votes by members who do not attend the meeting but review the recorded meeting.

This is all quite muddled, both the bylaws and my response.


D.
Section II.8 purports to list actions that require member approval but actually lists special voting requirements required for certain actions. It’s fairly clear what is intended but the language is unnecessarily confusing. For example, it would be better to word II.A as “A. The election of directors of the Corporation. This shall require a plurality of the votes cast at a meeting of the members.”


E.
The second sentence in III.2 is not about Qualifications of Directors. It belongs under the next section III.3 about Number of Directors.


F.
The first sentence of section III.7 permits removal of a Director (with or) without cause, without any Directors present. This seems a bit too easy: it requires no cause and can be accomplished by just a quorum of members present. The rest of the section talks about requiring Directors to be notified and present to remove a Director with cause. But the the first sentence already covered both the with cause and without cause situations, so the rest of section is either moot or contradictory.


This document has all the earmarks of a committee trying to write a document together. You have certainly made a valiant effort but it rarely succeeds. With legal documents it’s basically impossible to maintain consistent language, clear terminology and general legal coherence. Normally a committee might outline the points they want to the bylaws to cover and then someone with experience would work with the committee to put it together in a legally binding document that makes those points clear to one and all.

I think we will have great difficulty putting these bylaws into practice when disputes arise. I am finding it hard to recommend a yes vote even with the hopes these problems will be fixed at some future date. I fear the Corporation is being built on a shaky foundation.


#30

I want to say that I mostly understand the intent of this document and I could easily vote YES in spirit, with the understanding that someone with a legal background would then revise the document and work with the leadership team to clarify things and eventually bring it to the members for final approval.


#31

(Español)

Muchas gracias al Comité de Dirección por conducir este proceso, reciban un saludo.

Considerando que los estatutos propuestos no hacen mención explícita de la Cooperativa Tecnológica Primero de Mayo-Enlace Popular de México, me gustaría saber en qué terminos el Comité está pensando esa llamada “relación especial”.

Me parece que la redacción de la segunda pregunta en este proceso de votación hace explícita la existencia de la cooperativa mexicana para convalidar lo que establecen los estatutos, …y los estatutos no la mencionan. ¿Cómo debemos interpretar eso?

Para quienes no conocen el proceso de esta instancia de organización, aquí unas referencias:
https://support.mayfirst.org/wiki/projects/laneta-transition
https://support.mayfirst.org/wiki/projects/mexico-coop.Es

Gracias


(English)

Many thanks to the Leadership Committee for conducting this process, greetings all.

Considering that the proposed by-laws do not make explicit mention of the Primero de Mayo-Enlace Popular Technology Cooperative, I would like to know in what terms the Committee is thinking about this so-called “special relationship”.

It seems to me that the wording of the second question included in yesterdays email call makes explicit the existence of the Mexican cooperative to validate what the by-laws establish, … and the by-laws do not mention it. What should we understand from it?

For those who do not know the process of this instance of organization of members, here are some references:
https://support.mayfirst.org/wiki/projects/laneta-transition
https://support.mayfirst.org/wiki/projects/mexico-coop.Es

Thank you


#32

Hi Scott,

Well, we did have a 6 month period for member feedback and also an explicit two week period for feedback on the final wording (see extensive discussion on this very thread). Sorry you missed those emails. It looks like you recently joined, which might explain it.

A. New York state law requires us to have a minimum of 100 people (or 10%) present in real time for a valid membership meeting. We could voluntarily increase the number, but that opens us up to paralysis. It means if we don’t get that number of people, we cannot make a decision as an organization. Also, as an international organization, the only fair way to meet is online and a real-time online meeting with more than 100 people is frustrating to participate in. So, our compromise is to meet the requirements of NY state law, and then ensure that all decisions are handled by a ballot that all members can easily participate in.

B and C. We have to have a quorum in the real time meeting for it to be a valid meeting that can make decisions (this is NY state law - I wish it weren’t). Once we have quorum at this meeting, any member can demand that a decision be made by electronic ballot. We expect this to be the norm for all meetings, but really it just takes one person to demand it.

D and E. Please feel free to submit your proposed changes for the next membership meeting :).

F. The first section is what is required for the membership to remove a director. Members can remove directors without cause (provided there is quorum and 2/3 vote in favor). This ensures that the members really do control the organization - they can recall a director. Getting 10% of the membership to a meeting and getting 2/3 to vote to remove a director is a very steep climb. The rest of the section describes what is necessary for the board of directors to remove a director. The board can only remove a director for cause. This is to ensure the board can’t simply eliminate a minority faction.

I appreciate your constructive criticisms and concerns and I think we can use many of them in future drafts.

However, your final two paragraphs make a lot of assumptions and I find disrespectful. Remember - you are coming into a process very late as a brand new member of the organization. Over 50 individuals have worked hard putting these by-laws together before you even joined and in fact did follow the steps you describe (first an outline, followed by fleshing out the general points, followed by two peole consutling with a lawyer).

Please consider asking questions prior to making such assumptions.


#33

Hi Enrique,

In the process of finalizing the by-laws, we realized that if we wanted to have a special relationship with another organization, besides the Mexican Coop, we would have to modify the by-laws to add that relationship.

However, if we change the by-laws to simply define the nature of such a relationship, then we can add new relationships by having our members vote on them and not have to re-write by-laws each time.

Since we want to start our new coop, with our special relationship to Mexico intact, we decided to have our members vote on both the coop by-laws and (assuming yes) the special relationship with Mexico. Then, with one vote, we can continue as we have in the past.

====

Hola enrique

En el proceso de finalizar los estatutos, nos dimos cuenta de que si queríamos tener una relación especial con otra organización, además de la Coop mexicana, tendríamos que modificar los estatutos para agregar esa relación.

Sin embargo, si cambiamos los estatutos para definir simplemente la naturaleza de dicha relación, entonces podemos agregar nuevas relaciones haciendo que nuestros miembros voten por ellos y no tener que volver a escribir los estatutos cada vez.

Dado que queremos comenzar nuestra nueva cooperativa, con nuestra relación especial con México intacta, decidimos que nuestros miembros voten tanto por los estatutos de las cooperativas como (suponiendo que sí) la relación especial con México. Luego, con un voto, podemos continuar como lo hemos hecho en el pasado.


#34

Gracias Jamie,

considero que la redacción no ha sido afortunada en el reconocimiento al trabajo de la Cooperativa en México. En vez de reconocer el aporte administrativo, organizativo y político de esta instancia de organización, parece como si quienes desde aquí trabajamos buscáramos quedar exentos de pago de cuotas. Cuando por el contrario la cooperativa realiza un gran trabajo administrativo y representa a la asociación May First/PeopleLink públicamente, transfiere recursos a los Estados Unidos por concepto de cuotas de membresía, procura capacitaciones en el uso de nuestra infraestructura compartida y además cada un@ pagamos nuestras cuotas individuales y organizacionales.

Artículo II: Membresía
Sección II.1.D Los miembros están exentos de pagar cuotas si son miembros de una organización
(la Coop Mexicana) que se comprometa a participar en la construcción de un movimiento consistente con la misión de la Corporación y que tenga una relación especial con la Corporación…

Y de nuevo se insiste en ese aspecto de la exención de pagos aquí:

Artículo III: Junta Directiva
Sección III.2 Cualificaciones de los directores. Todo director tendrá por lo menos dieciocho (18) años de edad. Los miembros que estén exentos de pagar cuotas conforme a la Sección 2.1 anterior tendrán una proporción de posiciones independientes en la Junta igual a la proporción de la membresía de su organización relativa al total de la membresía de la Corporación.

Por otro lado, la cooperativa mexicana no puede ser considerada una organización que haya solicitado su membresía a May First / People Link (sino en todo caso es parte de su estructura orgánica de operación y fue creada previo acuerdo en el Comité de Dirección en su momento).

Tampoco tiene por sí misma miembros afiliados, pues todos los miembros que atendemos desde esta instancia lo son de la asociación May First / People Link. Por ello, no está claro cómo quedará conformada la Junta Directiva.Pues no podemos decir que 200 miembros de México y otros más de otros países de Latinoamérica se han afiliado a la Cooperativa mexicana. A menos que se adopte un criterio de distribución geográfica y no uno de representación política.

Saludos


Thanks Jamie,

I believe that the wording has not been successful in the recognition of the work of the Cooperative in Mexico. Instead of recognizing the administrative, organizational and political contribution of this instance of organization, it seems as if those who work here seek to be exempt from paying dues. When, on the contrary, the cooperative does a great administrative job and represents May First / People Link publicly, transfers resources to the United States previously collected from membership dues, offers training in the use of our shared infrastructure without cost and also each one of us individually pay our individual or organizational dues.

Article II: Membership
Section II.1.D. Members are exempt from paying dues if they are members of an organization that makes a commitment to engage in movement building consistent with the mission of the Corporation and has a special relationship with the Corporation…

And again that aspect of the exemption of payments is insisted on here:

Article III: Board of Directors
Section III.2 Qualifications of Directors. Each director shall be at least eighteen (18) years old. Members who are exempt from paying dues in accordance with Section 2.1 above shall have a proportion of the at-large seats on the Board that is equal to the proportion of their organization’s membership relative to the total membership of the Corporation.

In the other hand, the Mexican cooperative can not be considered an organization that has applied for membership to May First / People Link (instead is part of its organizational structure of operations and was created after agreement in the Leadership Committee).

The Mexican cooperative does not have affiliate members by itself, as all the members we serve from this organizing instance are members of the association May First / People Link. For this reason, it is not clear how the Board of Directors will be conformed. As we cannot say that 200 members from Mexico and others from other Latin American countries are affiliated to the Mexican cooperative.
Unless a criterion of geographical distribution is adopted and not one of political representation.

Greetings


#35

Hi Enrique - Thank you for the follow up. I realize now that I should have started by clarifying the intent of the by-laws with regard to Mexico.

For me, there is no question as to the importance of the Mexican Coop. I think our bi-national leadership and significant presence of Mexican members has been critical to our political work and to the very identity of our organization.

Right now, more than ever, we need truly bi-national organizations to provide leadership to our movements because the border colors just about every aspect of our lives.

So, the intent of the current by-laws was to preserve this relationship while also addressing the major shortcomings of our old set of rules. The main shortcoming is there is no legal basis for member control of the resources right now. Legally, despite our excellent structure document, all resources of Media Jumpstart are controlled by our three person Board (Alfredo, Josue and I).

That has to change - but to make that change, we had to legally define the role of the Mexican coop and it’s members in our organization.

In practice very little will change. Consider:

  1. Currently, Mexico gets 4 seats on the LC and the rest of the organization gets 11. Right now, Mexican membership is approximately 20% of the total membership, so under the new by-laws Mexico will get 5 of the 20 at large seats. Roughly the same percentage.
  2. Currently, all members in Mexico pay the Mexican Coop and enjoy the full benefits of membership in the organization. This won’t change.
  3. Currently, the Mexican Coop makes payments in one way or another to the organization. This won’t change either, although we will need to formalize it in an agreement.
  4. Currently, the Mexican Coop orgaizes in Mexico and partners on political campaigns. This won’t change either.

As for the emphasis on the exemption from paying dues - the first reference in Section II.4D is important because that sections makes clear that all members must pay dues except those with a special relationship.

However, I agree with your criticism about the continued reference to the exemption from paying dues. I agree, not paying dues isn’t what distinguishes members with such a special relationship. In fact, it’s a minor detail compare to the more important aspect of collaborating politically. I hope we can address that in our next revision!

jamie

===

Hola Enrique - Gracias por el seguimiento. Ahora me doy cuenta de que debería haber comenzado por aclarar la intención de los estatutos con respecto a México.

Para mí, no hay duda sobre la importancia de la cooperativa mexicana. Creo que nuestro liderazgo binacional y la presencia significativa de miembros mexicanos ha sido fundamental para nuestro trabajo político y para la identidad de nuestra organización.

En este momento, más que nunca, necesitamos verdaderas organizaciones binacionales para proporcionar liderazgo a nuestros movimientos porque la frontera colorea todos los aspectos de nuestras vidas.

Por lo tanto, la intención de los estatutos actuales era preservar esta relación y, al mismo tiempo, abordar las principales deficiencias de nuestro antiguo conjunto de reglas. La principal deficiencia es que no hay una base legal para que los miembros controlen los recursos en este momento. Legalmente, a pesar de nuestro excelente documento de estructura, todos los recursos de Media Jumpstart están controlados por nuestro Consejo de tres personas (Alfredo, Josue y yo).

Eso tiene que cambiar, pero para hacer ese cambio, tuvimos que definir legalmente el papel de la cooperativa mexicana y sus miembros en nuestra organización.

En la práctica, muy poco cambiará. Considerar:

  1. Actualmente, México obtiene 4 asientos en el LC y el resto de la organización tiene 11. En este momento, la membresía mexicana es aproximadamente el 20% del total de miembros, por lo que, de acuerdo con los nuevos estatutos, México obtendrá 5 de los 20 en general. asientos. Aproximadamente el mismo porcentaje.
  2. Actualmente, todos los miembros en México pagan a la Coop mexicana y disfrutan de todos los beneficios de la membresía en la organización. Esto no va a cambiar.
  3. Actualmente, la cooperativa mexicana realiza pagos de una forma u otra a la organización. Esto tampoco cambiará, aunque tendremos que formalizarlo en un acuerdo.
  4. Actualmente, la cooperativa mexicana se organiza en México y sus socios en campañas políticas. Esto tampoco cambiará.

En cuanto al énfasis en la exención del pago de las cuotas, la primera referencia en la Sección II.4D es importante porque en esas secciones se aclara que todos los miembros deben pagar las cuotas, excepto los que tienen una relación especial.

Sin embargo, estoy de acuerdo con su crítica sobre la continua referencia a la exención del pago de cuotas. Estoy de acuerdo, no pagar cuotas no es lo que distingue a los miembros con una relación tan especial. De hecho, es un detalle menor en comparación con el aspecto más importante de la colaboración política. ¡Espero que podamos abordar eso en nuestra próxima revisión!

jamie


#36

Muchas gracias, Jamie, por tu respuesta. Ahora está más claro lo que pretenden nuestros líderes con estos cambios. Estoy agradecido por todo el trabajo realizado. Estoy listo para emitir mi voto.


Thanks a lot Jamie for your response, It is clearer now what our leaders intent with this changes. I’m thankful for all the work done. I’m ready to cast my vote.


#37

Section II.1.D.ii mentions that a special relationship is governed by an agreement with the other organization. As a general practice, Media Jumpstart should probably present the proposed agreement as part of the process of voting on having the relationship in II.1.D.i. It seems backward to vote first on having a relationship and then leaving the terms of the relationship to be negotiated later, and approved (by whom?). Shouldn’t the agreement terms be approved by the membership?

One princple I think we should consider when negotating such an agreement is the idea of reciprocality. Because every Board member from a II.1.D special relationship takes away board members from the members (not the workers) of Media Jumpstart, then in general, it seems that the II.1.A and II.1.B members of Media Jumpstart should at least consider having some reciprocal influence on the other organization. It’s not clear that it’s always just/right for the control/influence to go in one direction.


#38

Hi Luigibai - Thanks for weighing in. We spent some time on that particular part. We are trying to balance the need for member approval of critical decisions (like the decision to partner with a given organization) with the need to give the Board some freedom to operate flexibly.

The thinking is that any new special agreement with an organization should be approved by the membership, but then the Board has some flexibility to negotiate the terms without having to come back and get member approval on everything (ideally I would like us to re-negiate such an agreement every year, but not require member approval each year).

The case of Mexico is a bit special since we have been engaged in this relationship for 8 years - the vote is really to continue what we have been doing.

If we were to introduce a new organization to have such a special relationship, I would imagine it would require considerably more explanation and argument for why we would initiate such a new relationship.


#39

As I stated before, personal circumstances didn’t allow me to participate as I would have wished in the bylaw and revision process. With the final vote in progress, I felt compelled to inform myself of what I was to decide. I like the coop concept. No problem there, but am concerned over a few sections of the bylaws.

In reading a few recent comments here, I see some of the same issues raised so I will echo those. And some of my critiques are pedantic perhaps ( and had I been participating in the drafting process, could likely have been addressed easily.)

I will comment though that a 3-week comment period on the final draft after the 6 month development process seems a bit short to me.

My first concern is with the first sentence of Section II.1.E. I think “anyone interested” should be qualified. The NSATFBICE has an interest, but I do not think they are welcome.

Then, as mentioned by other(s) before me, Section II.8 opening language is confusing and inconsistent. While introducing a scope of “actions may not be taken…”, none of the itemized list take the form of prohibition. What follows is a list of what is prescribed (required) rather than what is proscribed (prohibited).

As to Section IV.1, reference is made to “one of the co-chairs” without defining or establishing a number, As in “there shall be 2 co-chairs…” along with even a slight description of powers/responsibilities of such a co-chair.

Also in Section IV.1 and Section IV.2 gender is introduced, without even cursory definition. I have very little cognizance of the related issues but due to a very heated discussion I observed in another group within the last couple weeks, I am concerned that this matter needs much more specificity.

Trying to wrap my thinking along the lines of thought being currently promoted, it is my understanding that “woman/women” (self-identified gender) does not mean female (sex), and similarly “men” does not mean male. This provides for trans-gender persons to recatagorize, males as “women” and females as “men”. I would not deny liberty to do so. But this can perhaps lead to unintended results for our progressive organization (and so many others).

Consider the current wording of Section IV2 in particular, where, in providing for a Worker Review Committee, “at least four (4) [of the 5 total] members” shall be “women or people of color”.

That language allows for the committee to consist of five white males, as long as at least 4 of them self-identify as being “women”, transgender. That would be to the detriment of females and people of color.

As written, the formula limits committee membership to a maximum of one (1) white man (cis-male? is that the term?), while allowing for no limit on white non-cis males identifying as “women”.

Better perhaps was language that had a separate minimum requirement for people of color (say 2 of the 5) and a separate requirement for females (not “women”), (again, say 2 of 5). Obviously those conditions could be met by inclusion of 2 POC females in some cases, so a further requirement might be that at least 3 (or 4) of the 5 be female and/or POC.

These issues should be discussed now or later. The sooner the better as we are seeing how divisive it can be in so many cases in the national/world news.