Who is voting and who is not…

A number of councillors have made it clear, they support the plan to directly appoint a CEO. Fair enough, if you agree they’ve consulted widely and that members who want to vote directly for their leader are the minority.

Simon Burke, from Equity has posted a statement:Email From Simon Burke

More views are buried in an anonymous statement, on MEAAs website, or the ten points here here, reproduced in full for your convenience:



Ten reasons why having a CEO is better for our union (and more democratic at the same time)

Thursday, 06 March 2014

1. Let’s lead not follow.

Being a modern, dynamic organisation means having a modern, 21st century approach to how we operate. The current model is an anachronism. This method of election goes back to a time when it was expected that the union could be run by a working member – known to all the other members – who gave up his or her job and took over the administration of the union.

2. The future of the MEAA remains in your hands

The move to this model has come through a long process of consultation with federal council and members over three years. Any change brings uncertainty. But your board and elected leaders have thought long about this and believe this is the best path for MEAA.

That’s why they are recommending the change to the people you elected just 12 months ago.

You elect the 92 working creative professionals who form our federal council; performers, journalists, dancers, technicians, musicians, outdoor and event staff and all the other creative workers who are part of our union. They will be voting on this – as they do every single big decision the union makes. See them here.

You also elect the president and vice-president of your section who make up the board of the union.

3. We’ve got a better chance to get the best person for the job

It may be a MEAA member. It may not. Using a rigorous, transparent selection based on merit is the best way to get the best candidates – and to get more than one candidate. A merit-based selection procedure will let us cast the net as widely as possible when a selection is being made. Yet the electoral process prevents the union from going to the labour market in order to attract the very best person for the job. Only those who are able to join the union before nominations close and be willing to go through a public electoral process can be considered for the job. In fact, in the past 20 years, just about every elected employed officer was a previous employee of MEAA. They’ve been great. But that’s too small a gene pool for the future.

4. The federal secretary or chief executive doesn’t lead the union. You do.

It’s the rank and file members, the local committees, the union presidents, the federal councillors who run this union. The people on the ground who know the issues affecting your industry. A chief executive – and all our valuable staff – answer to you and work in your interests, always.

5. Successful organisations are built on values, not leadership.

In membership organisations around the world – unions or not – the successful ones that are growing are built on values not leadership. And one of our central democratic values is that it should be the working creative professionals that are in charge.

6. We need a comprehensive mix of skills.

The skills someone needs to win an election are not necessarily the skills we need to manage our resources. MEAA is a relatively large, complex organisation. It turns over about $10 million a year and employs about 70 staff in two countries and every state (and the ACT) in Australia. To be CEO of our organisation, we need a broad range of skills – handling money, leading staff, managing the structures of the union, reporting to regulatory bodies – before we get on to the big issues of strategic planning and leadership, campaigning, negotiating, lobbying etc etc.

7. We’re not alone

Forward thinking unions and other membership organisations have already recognised bureaucracy and popularity contests can get in the way of working in members’ interests. Professionals Australia – the Australian union most like us – has long had a CEO who is answerable to a board of working professionals. The most successful performers’ union, the Screen Actors Guild in the US, appoints a CEO answerable to their (often very robustly) elected board.

8. Appointed staff are more democratically accountable

People naturally vote for people they know. In a union as diverse as ours it is inevitable that a member of particular background, such as performance or journalism, will be very well-known to one section of our membership – and therefore possibly succeed in an election – yet be relatively unknown to many other members and unfamiliar with their industries and their needs.

The power of incumbency also means once elected, officers stay as long as they like. In 20 years, only once have we genuinely had a choice of more than one person for ANY elected employed officer.

An appointed CEO is accountable to an elected board and charged to deliver the plans members want – and can be removed if they don’t.

9. You’ll still be doing plenty of voting

As always, MEAA will remain a union run by members, for members.

Under this democratic accountable model, members will be doing plenty of voting.

You’ll be able to vote for your local deputy, delegate or House Committee. You’ll also be able to vote for volunteers who serve as honorary officers in each state. You’ll vote for national members of the committee of your craft or section – the National Performers Committee, the Media National Section Committee or the Entertainment Crew and Sport Committee. And you’ll vote for the president and vice president of your section.

You’ll also get the chance to vote on everything that affects your working life – you’ll vote on a logs of claim when you’re bargaining. You’ll vote on accepting (or not accepting) a collective agreement under which you’ll work. You’ll vote before taking any industrial action.

10. We’ve asked members what they think

In a union-wide survey conducted by a third party just last year MEAA members told us that, most importantly, they want us to be “forward-thinking” and “the trusted voice”. They also told us they want us to be “authoritative”, “dependable”, “people focused” and “service focused”. We listened. To this feedback. To our hundreds of activists. To the committee members you elected.

The consultation process has been long and extensive. Our strategy for the future is, like everything we do, driven by members.

Modernising the way we are governed is just one of the many ways in which we are trying to shake things up – for the better. The way we communicate, the way we use technology, the way we grow in non-traditional workplaces, the way we do more with less, the way we restructure our resources are all going to get a much-needed overhaul and every member of MEAA is going to reap the benefits.

The consultation process has been long and extensive. Our strategy for the future is, like everything we do, driven by members.


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