From the News column of the December 2003 Perspectives
Business Meeting of the AHA
AHA Staff, December 2003
Article VII of the AHA constitution states that the Association's Council shall call a business meeting, open to all members of the Association in good standing, to convene at the time of the annual meeting. The business meeting of the 118th annual meeting is scheduled for Saturday, January 10, in the Marriott Wardman Park's Maryland Suite A, beginning at 4:45 p.m.
At the business meeting, AHA members can consider resolutions, deal with proposals of any kind concerning the affairs of the Association, receive reports of officers and committees, and instruct officers and the Council. All measures adopted by the business meeting come before the Council for acceptance, nonconcurrence, or veto. If accepted by the Council, they shall be binding on the Association. The Council may veto any measure adopted by the business meeting that it believes to be in violation of the Association's constitution or which, on advice of counsel, it judges to be in violation of law. The Council shall publish an explanation for each such veto. The Council may vote not to concur in any measure adopted by the business meeting. Within 90 days of the Council meeting following the business meeting, the Council shall publish its opinion of each measure with which it does not concur and submit the measure to a mail ballot of the entire membership. If approved by a majority of the members in the mail ballot, the measure shall be binding on the Association. The Council may postpone implementation of any measure adopted by the business meeting or approved by mail ballot that in its judgment is financially or administratively unfeasible. The Council shall publish an explanation of each such decision and justify it at the subsequent business meeting.
Bylaw 9(4), which provides procedures to carry out the provisions of Article VII regarding the business meeting, states that any member of the Association may present resolutions or other motions that introduce new business to the agenda of the annual business meeting. Such resolutions must be:
1. received in the office of the AHA executive director not later than December 15 prior to the annual meeting,
2. in proper parliamentary form,
3. signed by at least 25 members of the Association in good standing,
4. not more than 300 words in length including any introductory material, and
5. deal with a matter of concern to the Association, to the profession of history, or to the academic profession.
Resolutions are placed on the agenda for consideration in the order in which they are received, but resolutions received on or before November 1 shall be published in the December newsletter and can—subject to the discretion of the Council—take precedence over other resolutions. Bylaw 9(5) states that no motion, resolution, or other business shall be passed by a division of the members at the annual business meeting unless there is present a quorum of 100 members in good standing.
The following resolutions, each signed by more than 25 members of the AHA, have been submitted to the AHA executive director for consideration at the January 10, 2004, business meeting:
1. Resolution affirming rights of free speech and open access to records
Resolved, that in view of current efforts to restrict free speech in the name of national security, the American Historical Association affirms the sanctity of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, the decisive importance of unfettered discussion to the pursuit of historical knowledge, the necessity for open debate of United States foreign policy and other public issues in order to safeguard the health of democracy and of our profession, and the need for open access to government records and archives.
2. Resolution regarding Yale University and the Graduate Employee and Students Organization (GESO)
Whereas, Yale graduate employees have been trying to unionize for 12 years; and
Whereas, whatever our opinions on unionization, we believe that discussion around this question should occur in an atmosphere which reflects the values of the academy; and
Whereas, an academic labor panel was convened on September 20, 2003, to consider charges of intimidating and coercive behavior by the Yale administration and some faculty, particularly in science departments. The panel consisted of: Fred Feinstein (chairman), former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel; Cynthia Estlund, Professor, Columbia Law School; Kari Klare, Professor, Northeastern University School of Law; Adolph Reed, Professor, Department of Political Science at New School University; Robert B. Reich, Professor, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, and former U.S. Labor Secretary; and Emily Spieler, Dean, Northeastern University School of Law; and
Whereas, their statement notes, "The fact that so many students reported threatening and intimidating experiences . . . raises a serious concern;" and
Whereas, the statement concludes, "we note with regret that the consequence of the administration's position, if sustained by the NLRB, is that the serious charges of intimidation and interference with expressional freedom raised by GESO's supporters will never receive any sort of adjudicative hearing," therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Yale administration and the GESO should, as recommended by this statement, "find a mutually acceptable forum for reaching some understanding about conduct that members of the Yale community regard as a genuine threat to their freedom of belief and expression. That forum could be the NLRB if all parties conceded its jurisdiction; or it could be another forum devised by the parties."