The Coop Vote is now Open! Please vote today.

UPDATE: As of Tuesday, June 11, the voting period has begun and will last through Monday, June 17th at 11:59 pm America/New_York time. Every member should have received an email with a voting link. If you did not receive an email with a voting link, please contact members-meeting@mayfirst.org immediately.

You are about to vote on what might be the most important decision about May First in our organization’s history.

The Leadership Committee of May First/People Link is proposing to its members a major change in our organization’s structure and decision-making processes effectively turning us into a non-profit coop.

This is the result of months of research, consultation with you, working with lawyers and intense discussion in our leadership bodies (which were expanded to all members wishing to participate). In this email, we’re going to give you a link to the final version of by-laws so you can fully review them before the vote. But first we want to address some of the questions that have arisen thus far.

So what will we be asked to do?

First, review the by-laws. Then, starting on Tuesday, June 11, vote on three items. A new set of by-laws is the main item. And if you vote yes on that, you’re being asked to approve the second two items: setting up a “special relationship” with the Mexican coop and mandating that the outgoing Leadership Committee (LC) be in charge of the organization’s leadership until a new Board of Directors can be elected at the next membership meeting (probably in September).

The “special relationship” is explained below and we need to give the outgoing LC authority because we can’t begin a Board election process until after the by-laws are approved. But the main thing is the by-laws; that’s where all the changes are.

What exactly are we changing?

Right now, May First/People Link is a project of a non-profit called Media Jumpstart which has a small board that has never changed and doesn’t really do much of anything. But it does control all the assets. We are going to eliminate the “project”, turn all the assets over to the entire membership, give the membership the power to elect the Board of Directors and then establish a certificate of assumed name so we can operate as May First Movement Technology.

We can’t use the word “coop” in our official name because New York State cooperative law doesn’t allow a multi-stakeholder coop to do that but we can describe it as a coop and use the word in accompanying names and slogans.

What do we have to change to make this happen?

The by-laws. The new draft of the by-laws is available on- line. No other change is required. Our corporate documents remain basically the same. But the by-laws are completely transformed.

Under these new by-laws the membership will be in complete control of everything including the election of the Board of Directors (which is 25 people…larger than our current Leadership Committee).

Currently you don’t own the cabinet full of hardware needed to store the data and run the programs of our orgnanization. With this change, you will.

While membership meetings have always been scheduled by the leadership, under the new by-laws the members will have the right and power to call your own meeting (without Board approval) if you have the necessary votes.

In other words, we’re taking another step in our constant process of defining “democracy.”

In addition, a few other changes are worth noting:

The international character of our organization is clarified and the relationship between this coop and the coop in Mexico is made much clearer: any person on earth can be a coop member, the current members in Mexico remain members of this coop and we define a special relationship with the May First Coop in Mexico allowing that coop to collect the dues from members living in Mexico. Our by-laws also guarantee proportional representation on the Board for members in Mexico, ensuring our leadership remains bi-national.

Specifically, our by-laws allow for the possibility of a special relationship provided the members approve it, but the by-laws do not stipulate that we have this relationship with the Mexican Coop. That’s why we have the approval of this relationship on the ballot as a separate item to approve.

And lastly, in recognition of the role labor plays in our movement and society, we reserve 20% of Board seats for worker members - members who provide regular labor for the organization.

What does all this means politically? What will change?

Well, we’re not proposing a change of politics. The things that have made us what we are and give us our profile in the movement stay the same: Technology and Revolution convergence work, Radical Connections network, our conference work, our work in coalitions and networks and, of course, our service provision program. That all remains intact. But…

May First has long stated that a key pillar in the struggle for a radically different society, something that’s necessary to save humanity, is the democratization of technology. We’ve argued that in public places and tried to implement it within our organization. This is a major step in that direction. Because our membership is a significant part of the movement for social change in this country, your ownership of our assets (including the equipment), puts this technology in your hands - a part of this movement. As our organization grows and recruits more of the movement, the portion of our movement owning this technology will grow.

While we’re on the topic of “ownership,” let’s take a moment to define that word. In a legal sense, since we have been and will continue to be incorporated as a non-profit organization, no individual can “own” any part of the organization. However, this concept of ownership is based on capitalist culture and logic; the legal definition of ownership is about the ability to sell or transfer something – which is the motor for profit. Since we don’t believe in capitalism or profit, we reject that concept of ownership. When we say our members “own” our technology infrastructure, what we mean is: you decide everything that happens to and with our assets. They are under your complete and democratic control. You can’t sell them or your stake in them but you can do just about everything else provided the majority agrees.

In other words, while there have always been several reasons to join May First, there’s now a significant additional one: to exercise your ownership over this technology.

So how will we make decisions under these new by-laws?

  • We have an on-line membership meeting every year (instead of a face-to-face meeting that we think limited attendance)
  • The membership elects 20 people to the Board of Directors with a representational quota to reflect the membership in Mexico
  • The coop’s workers elect five Board members
  • The Board meets four times a year and sets the agenda for the organization and keeps it going, including naming workgroups and sub-committees to do the planning and implementation
  • The Board will name a sub-committee to meet every week or two to oversee how the organization is running
  • The board will also name a worker review committee that hires workers (paid and volunteer), from the membership, to implement the plans

There’s lots more so please read the by- laws.

Do you have questions? Please join our online discussion of these by- laws.

And stay tuned! On Tuesday, June 11 you will receive an email announcing the start of the voting period along with a link to place your vote.

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