#StagehandView: General Robert in Motion

Broken NutcrackerHappy Monday! I hope your holiday season is going exactly according to plan. Mine’s been lovely, relaxing, and productive all at once. Another Ballet Austin Nutcracker has come and gone, and my bank account is deceptively full.

Robert's Rules of Order 10th Ed.But enough happiness and gratitude, let’s talk Robert’s Rules of Order. No more lollygagging.

Today we’re talking about the motion, the parliamentary engine that allows us to get stuff done in spite of ourselves. The use of motions to enact the wishes of the assembled membership keeps us from doing more than one thing at a time, which is a good thing. When we’ve got a motion on the floor we have to deal with it. Admittedly, there are times when it feels like we’re not working on one item at a time (or not working on anything at all), especially when we’re hip deep in the amendments and fine details of a main motion. That’s where a strong chairperson comes in. A good chair can not only navigate those intricacies, he or she can bring the membership along for the ride. Being a presiding officer is a tough job to do well. I remember spending crazy amounts of time reading Robert’s Rules when I was president. I wonder if it makes sense to send our next chief executive and VP to parliamentary procedure class? They offer them online.

But there I go lollygagging.

One Item at a TimeBack to motions. They help us by keeping us focused on only one item of business at a time. They’re hierarchical. Certain motions take precedent over others. Some motions are debatable, some require a second and some don’t. Their interactions can get complex. Though that depth of parliamentary knowledge rarely comes into play for organizations like Local 205. It’s important to keep something in mind when learning the basics of Robert’s Rules of Order: as Brother Charlie Haymes put it, “Everything you need to know about Robert’s Rules of Order is in the first quarter inch.” He had something pithy to say about the remaining inch and a half of the book as well. But I’m pretty sure I’ve already misquoted him so I’ll stop. Even Robert’s Rules, in its preface, councils the novice to concentrate on the first five chapters. For now, just remember this about motions: A motion begins discussion, not the other way around. Do not be fooled by the deplorable habits of this local. It’s bad form to stand up and blather on about some idea you might have. Use the motion forms that I applaud the E-board for supplying and make a motion. Assuming it’s seconded, then it’s open for discussion. Not before.

Getting back to the beginning of Robert’s Rules. It starts off by defining a “deliberative assembly,” then it goes on to define it some more. It gets very in-depth. But we know “deliberative assembly” means members in good standing at an official meeting, so we’ll skip that part. Up next Robert defines more terminology, this time it’s the “Rules of Order.” [I’m telling you this stuff is riveting. I can’t believe you haven’t read it already.] The Rules of Order are not the by-laws. Ours can be found appended to our by-laws. These are simply the rules we’ve all agreed to play by as members of Local 205. For example, did you know the following was one of rules we all swore to abide by when we joined:  “refreshment, other than cold water, shall not be allowed in the headquarters of this local while the meeting is in session?” I guess we ignore this one because we don’t have an HQ. Either way, I’m pretty sure I saw a couple of boxes of donuts at the last meeting.

Seems like it might be time to take a serious look at some of our standing rules and whether or not they really serve our interests. I, for one, am proudly pro-donut!Donuts

Again you’ve let me wander completely off topic. You’ve got to keep a tighter leash on me or we’ll never get through this.

Oh well, doesn’t matter. I just noticed I’m well over five hundred words, which means I can end this post. And since I’m really not feeling it today, I will.

I kind of want a donut.

#StagehandView: There Once Was a General Named Robert…who must have been seriously OCD

Notice the hashtag (#) in the title? I’ve been tweeting pictures of various “seldom seen” stagehand views. It’s at #StagehandView. Got cool backstage pics? Tweet them there. Just remember to respect everyone’s privacy and intellectual property. And, as always, don’t be a dick.

Enough personal promotion.

Robert's Rules of Order 10th Ed.Disclaimer: I’ll be referencing the 10th Edition of Robert’s Rules of Order for anything I write here about parliamentary procedure. That’s because I happen to own the 10th Edition of Robert’s Rules of Order. There’s an 11th edition that I chose not to go out and buy. My love for my local runs only so deep.

Second Disclaimer: You should never assume what I’m saying about Robert’s Rules is true. I won’t deliberately lie, but I’m no parliamentarian. I’m just a stagehand who bought a book. The little I know I picked up from high school student council. Since then I’ve just been looking stuff up because high school quickly got to be a very long time ago, and I forgot everything.

A Justification: For years now, I’ve been listening politely [no really, I have] to well intended unionists talk about the need to increase member participation. When they say this they mean more of us should go to meetings. And I agree with them that meetings are important. It’s just that I’ve also noticed a tiny bit of an implied critique in their righteous concerns. I get the sense they feel a union member who doesn’t come to meetings isn’t sufficiently committed to the cause. And you know what, maybe that’s true. But who cares? At this point, any level of commitment to the union cause – hell, even a benign mild interest will do – should be welcomed with uncritical gratitude. This is especially true for our local. We need the unorganized stagehands of Austin much more than they need us. But I digress.

A Conclusion: Even in the best case, local 205 meetings generally suck. When they’re not boring, they often turn nasty and mean. No wonder nobody comes.

Yeah, yeah, the president could do a much better job of actually running the meetings and making people stay on topic. But that’s only a small part of the equation. What often slows everything down is a much deeper and widespread ignorance of the rules we’re all supposed to follow make our little democracy work right. Most of the membership has no idea how to correctly make a motion, much less debate or vote on one. For a bunch of people who took oaths and continue to pay their money to be a part of this institution, we sure seem committed to hamstringing ourselves wherever we can.

TeachingI still hold out hope the next VP will rally our Education Committee and create a local 205 apprentice program. But the new Veep won’t take office until the end of February.  And even then, I’m not optimistic about the chances of a parliamentary procedure class being a top priority.

So I’m going to write about Robert’s Rules of Order here. Lucky you.

To quote Robert’s Principles Underlying Parliamentary Law,

“these rules are based on a regard for the rights

of the majority,

of the minority, especially a strong minority (greater than one third),

of individual members,

of absentees, and

of all these together.” (p XLVII)

Pay attention to the order of the above list. Look who’s on top: it’s the majority. See where individuals rank?

Here’s another way of thinking about why our predecessors chose to play by Robert’s Rules of Order:

“Parliamentary procedure enables the overall membership of an organization – expressing its general will through the assembly of its members – both to establish and empower an effective leadership as it wishes, and at the same time to retain exactly the degree of direct control over its affairs that it chooses to reserve to itself.” (p XLVII)

In other words, you’re part of a democracy. You exercise your power or you lose it. That’s just the way it works.

Ultimately, it is the majority taking part in the assembly who decide the general will, but only following upon the opportunity for a deliberative process of full and free discussion.” (p XLVII)

At least local 205 gets that last part right. We always have a “full and free discussion.”People Talking

Here’s why I’m boring you with this: All three quotes make it clear that the ultimate power always has and always will reside in a majority of the membership at a meeting. Officers and committees are nothing more than the deputies of the assembled membership.

And how do we delegate our power as a democratic assembly? Mostly, we make motions.

Now, I guess we all know what I’ll be yammering on about next Monday.

Feel free to comment on/question any of this. Just remember, don’t be a dick.

And Happy Holidays!

Concluded: USITT 2014 Winter Symposium

USITT Winter Symposium will be January 17th-19th.

The coordinator, Rusty Cloyes, has given Local 205 a 3 hour time slot on Saturday, January 18th, starting at 1pm to give a presentation. Ben Adams from the IATSE Education Department will come and give the Union presentation to college students (about an hour of the time) and then 205 will cover the rest of the time. Things to be covered: A brief overview of how to get work with the union here, what is expected and safety issues. If you would like to help teach the class please contact sister Michelle Ferrier at isou@aol.com

From Sister Ferrier:

“Finally – any of us that are not working during the event (USITT) have been invited to register, pay the fee and attend any of the sessions. Preregistration fee is $60 (this includes the $5 USITT Membership fee). ”
http://southwest.usitt.org/symposium.html

**A couple of notes:
The 2014 USITT Conference & Stage Expo will be held in Ft. Worth this year. Member registration is cheaper than non-member registration.
USITT membership cost for an individual is $108, $162 for a professional. If you can or are able attend any of the Winter Symposium here, the $60 registration fee is a substantial discount.

USITT Winter Symposium 2014
USITT Winter Symposium 2014 Flyer

#StagehandView: So a union local walks into a bar… and other bad jokes

Stagehand View
My View on ALO’s Don Carlo

Welcome to my new labor blog. If you don’t know me, you can learn all you want at bradleypwilsonliterary.com. This is Stagehand View. I’m not really sure what it’s going to be beyond a source of information and commentary on all things worker-related for the stagehands of Austin, Texas (and anybody else who wants to read it).

A disclaimer: In no way do I speak for the other members of the IATSE Local 205 Newsletter Committee, any officer or member of IATSE Local 205, or anyone else for that matter. Anything and everything you read in Stagehand View is entirely my fault.

First up, big happenings at today’s regular meeting. Some really good things happened. Unfortunately, one really huge not-good thing happened.

The local elections got cancelled due to errors with the absentee ballots. Sounds like it was a matter of bad wording, bad packaging, and bad timing. Entire races were apparently omitted from the mail-out ballots, the ballot envelopes were printed with voter’s addresses and therefore not anonymous, and I guess some didn’t even get mailed out in time. Am I the only one hearing Nelson Muntz laugh right now?

I do give full credit to the e-board for their reaction to this fiasco, though. They made the right call in scrapping the whole mess and starting over rather than risking a tainted election.

Just do like me and think of it like it never happened because the election process will start over again with nominations in January. Yay.

Other than that doozie, I’m happy to say

IATSE Local 205 unanimously voted to  endorse Sarah Eckhardt for Travis County Judge in the 2014 Democratic Primary.

Full disclosure, I made the motion to endorse Eckhardt. I’m a big fan of hers, and I encourage you to watch the debate between her and her obviously underqualified opponent.

On another very good note, a big hearty welcome to Garrett Parker, the newest member of IATSE Local 205. Brother Parker took the oath today, and he should make a fine addition to our local.

And the last bit of meeting news I feel like reporting is this:

Our Stewards’ Council Chairman, Jim Ford, got a motion passed to help better ensure every member of this local gets a fair break if they ever find themselves in front of a review board. Thanks, Jim.

Hmmm, that’s it, I guess. Except to say I’m pretty sure Mikela’s going to be posting about today’s meeting, too. So look for her take some time soon.

I’m off to un-post the now obsolete candidate responses for the election that never happened. Once more, yay.

Concluded: Basic Fly Rail Class at The Long Center

From Jim Larkin, Director of Production at the Long Center:

All – we have identified the afternoon of Thursday December 26 as the next time to have a Basic Fly Rail Class, beginning at 12noon and lasting approximately 4 hours. The Advanced Class and qualifying tests of individuals will occur on Monday, December 30th from 9am to 6pm. Classes and exams will be held on the Meredith Stage of Dell Hall.

There is no limit to the number of participants for the class, but we would like to know how many students plan to attend, so that we can have the appropriate amount of pastries and coffee. The time required for the qualifying exam is dependent upon the number of candidates electing to take the exam.

The Basic Rail Class is a prerequisite for the Advanced Fly Rail Class. The Basic Class covers the environment of fly rail and loading rail, establishes standards of communication, and qualifies individuals to operate balanced loads that have already been installed on the system. The Advanced Rail Class provides instruction and qualification on the operation of the rail with unbalanced loads during a load in/out. Both the Basic and the Advanced classes are required prior to taking the test that fully qualifies an individual as an approved fly rail operator at The Long Center.

Please confirm participation with Frank Cortez. Email only; no phone calls please.

[For spam prevention, completing the form is necessary to reveal the contact email].

Claire Hunt

The latest addition to the newsletter committee passed this morning, November 18, 2013.

She was driving in to a load out call in Austin from her home in Cedar Creek around 3am when she was involved in a head on collision. A car in oncoming traffic crossed double yellow lines.

Claire, you were a wonderful friend, positive co-worker, and loving mother. You will be missed ~

Update:

Memorial service Monday, November 25th, 2013
3-7pm

McCullough Theatre
2375 Robert Dedman Drive
Austin, Texas 78712

There will be an mic available for speeches, and if anyone wants to play a number or two please contact Mike Malak at Texas Performing Arts. Stage Alliance will be providing refreshments.
If you want to help out with set up, please contact David Seb Boone at Texas Performing Arts.
If you can’t help with the set up but want to bring something, please bring a potted plant by 2pm to use for decoration. Claire loved nature and used to participate in plant/seed swaps. At the end of the event everyone who brought a plant can take a plant (other than the one they brought) to help with clean up.

Please keep in mind that parking at UT is very difficult.

Event schedule thus far:

This is what we have planned so far:

12p-2p
set-up. All are invited to help, but set-up will be minimal and no further hands should be needed.

3pm
House and Lobby opened to public. Please enter from the FRONT of the McCullough Theatre (not the back as stagehands typically do)

VERY casual event.

3pm – 4:30pm

Decorations will be provided by YOU with a PLANT SWAP dedicated to Claire’s love for plants: Bring a plant and at the end of the day take a plant home. – see Seb
Other decorations will be by Claire. If you have ANY of her art work, please bring to display. – see Seb
Book of Memories book. Sign, draw pictures, whatever. This will be given to Claire’s family.
Background music of Claire’s favorite songs – compiled by Clay Allison
“Socializing” – hang out and meet Claire’s friends and family
Refreshments – furnished by Stage Alliance
Donations to Claire’s Daughter’s college fund – see Mikela ( M Neko Cowan ) for details
Live music – performed by Alejandro
Other possible Live Music – see Mike Malak for details
Video / slide show of Claire, her art, and her life – see Mike Malak to submit pictures and video

4:30pm
Welcoming and Thank you’s
Speeches. Open mic to all who wish to speak, sing, dance, or whatever to share memories and stories about Claire. This is informal. No sign-up sheet. Take turns at the mic. – see Seb

? – 7pm
More “socializing”. See 3pm-4:30pm

7pm
Doors locked. Clean up begins.

For up to date information:
https://www.facebook.com/events/756595841021534/?context=create&ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

 

Claire always had a smile. -photo courtesy of Kenny Kuykendall
Claire always had a smile.
-photo courtesy of Kenny Kuykendall
Between scene shifts at Austin Lyric Opera's Don Carlo she created this in collaboration with other deck hands. -photo courtesy of Ryan Gallagher
Between scene shifts at Austin Lyric Opera’s Don Carlo she created this in collaboration with other deck hands.
-photo courtesy of Ryan Gallagher