Glossary for union representatives

Unionen’s meeting glossary and meeting rules.

Absolute majority
A proposal or a candidate must receive at least half of the total number of votes of those with voting rights.

Vote held by voters saying “Aye”. The number of votes is not counted, but the chair decides whether there is a majority in favour of the proposal.

A temporary member is called to attend the meeting.

Interruption or break in a meeting. Usually for a specified period of time.

Rules of procedure
Summary of the rules for a meeting.

Proposed decision in a motion .

No to a proposed decision.

When the statutes require a certain number of participants to be present at the meeting in order for a decision to be taken.

Yes to a proposed decision.

Blank vote
A blank ballot.

A decision on a matter is postponed to a later date. In the meantime, the matter lies dormant and no action is taken.

Those who attend a meeting are sometimes called delegates. Another name is representative.

Simple majority
A proposal is approved if it receives more than 50% of the votes cast.

Information provided prior to a decision. Often takes place when the Board, Nomination Committee or auditors provide information about their proposal(s) at a meeting.

Test vote
Vote held through a show of hands. The number of votes is not counted, but everyone in the room can see how many hands are raised. Held at the request of at least one representative and the tellers are often called to help the meeting chair determine whether there is a majority in favour of the proposal.

Approval of the minutes
Checking that the text of the minutes is accurate. The minutes are checked and approved after the meeting by designated minutes checkers and then become valid.

Conflict of interest
A term used when there may be doubt about the objectivity and/or impartiality of a person in a particular matter. A person who is deemed to be conflicted may participate in neither the discussion of nor the decision on a matter and it is customary for the person in question to leave the room. If a person is not included in the discussion of a decision, this is recorded in the minutes as “NN did not participate in the decision”.

Notice of a meeting will normally by sent out (or all meeting participants otherwise informed) well in advance of the meeting, the period of notice being specified in the statutes. The notice specifies the time and location of the meeting and sometimes also contains the agenda and other meeting documents. Meeting documents may also be sent out at a later date.

General agreement of opinion.

Allocation of different roles on a Board. Roles such as chair, treasurer etc. may have been allocated at the meeting but the Board may have more roles to allocate, depending on how it wants to carry out its work. Normally the first thing that a Board does.

Counter-suggestion for a decision, i.e. someone has submitted a proposal that conflicts with or amends the original proposal.

Counter-proposal vote
When a vote is held to select which of several different proposals the meeting will ultimately adopt.

Qualified majority
When a proposal has to receive more than 2/3 of the votes in order to be approved. The statutes stipulate when this applies.

Participants at a meeting are called members. Other elected positions, such as the Board or Nomination Committee, are also referred to as members.

Place on file
Means that a matter is noted in the minutes without any further decision being taken on the matter. The minutes of the previous meeting and the annual report are examples of matters that are often placed on file.

Term of office
The period of time for which a union representative is elected. The statutes specify the term of office for different roles.

Soft decision
A soft, or light, decision means that the meeting does not make a definitive decision on a proposal and instead simply expresses an intended direction. Often used if a matter is to be sent out for consultation, discussed and adjusted at the same time, for example by a Preparation Committee. The Preparation Committee takes into account the intended direction of the meeting but is not bound by this when putting together a new proposal.

A written proposed decision from a member.

Meeting officials
The persons chosen to run the meeting and who ensure that it proceeds in a fair and democratic manner, such the meeting chair, the meeting secretary, tellers and minutes checkers.

Meeting chair
Meeting official who is appointed to lead the meeting.

To propose a candidate for a role.

A person who is representing more than just themselves at the meeting, for example the entire club, is called a representative. At the meeting itself, they may also be referred to as a member.

Immediate approval
Where it is urgent or important that a decision takes effect immediately, the meeting can decide to approve the decision immediately. The decision then comes into effect straight away and there is no need to wait for the minutes to be approved.

Point of order
Can be requested during a meeting for matters that must be clarified before the debate can continue. A point of order must be dealt with immediately and interrupts the list of speakers. Points of order can only relate to some formal element of the meeting agenda, the meeting procedure, drawing a line under a debate, whether a break should be taken (adjournment) or a decision taken, or the need for additional information to highlight some formal error.

An unwritten rule that is generally accepted and used within the particular organisation or at meetings in general, unlike a statutory rule, which applies to all. Statutory rules cannot be deviated from, but practice can vary.

Presiding officers
The meeting officials elected to lead a meeting, i.e. the chair and the secretary.

A proposed decision. This term is not contained in Unionen’s statutes, but is common practice at other associations, e.g. where a proposal from the Board is referred to as a proposition. At Unionen, we call this a Board proposal or a Board motion .

Order of propositions
The order of decisions that the chair suggests to the meeting if there are several proposals to be decided upon. At each decision, the chair must propose an order of propositions, which is then approved by the meeting. If it is not approved, a new order of propositions must be proposed by the chair.

A record of the decisions taken at a meeting. The minutes are taken by the secretary elected at the meeting. Minutes can be taken containing only proposed decisions and decisions, known as decision minutes, or containing decisions and related discussions, known as discussion minutes.

A matter is sent for consultation, or referred, to a body for an opinion or preparation.

A rejoinder is a brief submission in reply if someone has made a submission directly addressing another representative, for clarification or to correct any misunderstanding. A rejoinder takes precedence in the list of speakers.

If a person considers a decision taken to be unsound, they can have this noted in the minutes. This is referred to as the meeting participant entering a reservation. A reservation must normally be submitted to the secretaries before the meeting ends in order to be included in the minutes.

All those who are entitled to vote at a meeting. Unionen’s statutes stipulate who these voters are. The meeting can also invite guests who are only there to listen and do not take part in the voting.

Register of voters
List of those who are entitled to vote at the meeting.

Person appointed by the meeting to count the votes.

Meeting official who is appointed to take the minutes.

Secret ballot/secret vote
A vote with ballots where each vote is secret (cf. a test vote, where the results are estimated, or voting where all votes are counted openly).

The “constitution” of an association, which describes the structure of the association, how decisions are made, when the annual meeting is to be held etc.

Draw a line under the debate
Used when a discussion is becoming too long and no new proposals or arguments appear to be coming forth. A line is drawn under the debate following a point of order or at the proposal of the meeting chair. Once a line has been drawn, nobody can add themselves to the list of speakers and no further motions can be submitted.

List of speakers
List drawn up by the meeting chair of those who have requested an opportunity to speak. The floor is then given to these in priority order according to the list of speakers.

A group appointed by the meeting that can, for example, consider motions before they are raised at the meeting or reconcile different proposals.

Casting vote
If a vote ends in a tie, the matter may need to be decided by a casting vote. The meeting chair may have the casting vote or the matter may be decided by the drawing of lots. Unionen’s statutes stipulate the applicable method for different meetings and matters.

Nomination Committee
A group of members elected at the annual meeting and given the assignment of proposing candidates for elected positions, such as the Board. The task of a Nomination Committee is to assess the suitability of candidates and to propose union representatives who are able to lead the association.

A vote where every vote is counted (cf. acclamation and test vote). Held at the request of at least one representative and must always be preceded by a test vote). In an election where there is more than one candidate, it is customary to proceed directly to the ballot and skip acclamation and a test vote.

Proposed decision put forward by a speaker. Sometimes also required to be in writing. A motion must always be examined by the meeting. An opinion can never be subject to a decision unless it has been submitted as a motion by a meeting participant.

A proposed decision from a Board, for example. The preparatory body, usually the Board, gives its opinion on a proposed decision received prior to the meeting. At Unionen, the Board must give its opinion on motions received.

Return for reconsideration
When a matter is sent back to the preparatory body, usually the Board, for further consideration. A return for reconsideration can be seen as a kind of “redo”.

Any other business
According to general meeting practice, this is the final item on the agenda. The matters addressed under Any other business are usually determined when the agenda is approved. At smaller meetings, other matters may be raised under this item. In practice, no decisions can be made under Any other business because information about decision points must be provided prior to the meeting.

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