@strom_m: the open letter #MEAA tried to hide

This is a letter from NSW honorary secretary, Marcus Strom, that Chris Warren and the management committee declined to send out to MEAA members in NSW.

We aren’t sure how this sits with the proposed CEO push, which supposedly is about “empowering honorary officials”, when the NSW honorary secretary isn’t allowed to communicate with the very constituency to which he is supposedly accountable.

We are publishing the letter for you here:

———- Forwarded message ———-

MEAA needs Democracy

A message from NSW Branch Secretary, Marcus Strom

Dear friends,

Next week the federal council of MEAA will consider two proposals for the future of our union. I believe one is about far-reaching democracy and re-engagement with our members. I fear the other corporatised push will distance our union from the very people it is meant to serve: you, the members.

You can hear me discuss these matters with Richard Aedy on Radio National’s Media Report here, recorded Thursday: http://ab.co/Nba9qW

Our industries and crafts are changing and we must change with them. But the bedrock of that change must be members’ involvement and democratic accountability.

With our long-serving federal secretary stepping down at the end of his current term, I believe members will want a direct say in who will next lead the union. I don’t think members will want a committee of 10 people to make this decision for them.

It is vital we rebuild a collective leadership for our union. That’s why proposals I am taking to federal council will not only give you a choice about who is our next federal secretary, but establish an elected assistant federal secretary each for Equity, Media and Crew, elected by the section members. I believe that you, the members, should make those decisions.

Those four elected national officials will work with our 10 elected honorary officials to rebuild a collective, transparent and accountable leadership.

And to improve financial transparency, I am also proposing that one of the honorary officials become our federal treasurer, with oversight and audit responsibilities.

I believe in member-run organisations. I don’t believe that elected officials mean we have a smaller gene pool from which to choose our leaders. If we want to have officials from outside our 16,000-strong membership, there is nothing to stop us choosing the best people. I just think they should be elected to their roles by you.

The debate and vote at federal council will be close. I hope that we retain direct election for our national leaders. However, if a majority of federal councillors want to remove your right to elect those officials, I think that decision should be yours to make through a plebiscite that either endorses or rejects instituting an unelected CEO.

This is an exciting and positive time for our union and we have a lot to learn from each other. The professional community built around Equity is an inspiring model for an increasingly fragmented media landscape. Our Entertainment, Crew and Sport section is setting high standards in recruitment and executing its strategic plan. Media is embracing positive change with its Women in Media program and a long overdue outreach to our freelance community. And I’m thrilled at gains being made in developing our musicians’ section.

I think members should see all proposals before federal council. Below are links to the management committee’s corporate CEO push and to proposals I will be making that I believe are about membership engagement, democracy, power and growth.

Link through to my proposals here: http://bit.ly/1iyt7GR

Link through to the CEO proposals here: http://bit.ly/1cS2Kng

Ultimately, the future of our union is in your hands. I trust your representatives will have you in mind when they decide next week.

In unity,

Marcus Strom

Marcus Strom is the honorary NSW Branch Secretary of the
Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

alliance.org.au

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One comment

  1. I joined the Australian Journalists Association in 1973. I used to be an Industrial Reporter covering the union movement and saw a lot of good and bad union practices. I have always believed that unions which lack democratic accountability are weak and unsustainable. In fact, I don’t reckon they are unions at all.

    In the past, I have been critical of the undemocratic governance of the Walkley Foundation. It does a great job but its not accountable to MEAA members.

    Now we are being told we can’t be trusted to elect our own Federal Secretary. I don’t want to pay fees to a Corporation, run by a CEO. I want to belong to a union.

    Federal executive members opposed to union democracy, should have a long hard think about their roles before they resign.

    Alan Knight

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