A Time for Reflection And Planning
(This article first appeared in the November-December issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
The end of 2016 is a good time to reflect on what happened earlier this year, but it is also a good time to plan for 2017. Planning your chores for the upcoming year should include:
Next Year’s Budget: Part of managing the local’s funds responsibly includes reviewing this year’s budget and preparing the budget for next year. Budgeting allows local leaders and members to control their money, rather than the money controlling the local.
If the local constitution does not address making a yearly budget or the establishment of a budget committee, passing a motion at a general membership meeting could start the process. A budget committee usually consists of the president or vice president, treasurer, and some knowledgeable officers and members.
The proposed budget should be presented to the executive board for review, then voted on and approved by the membership.
Meeting Calendars: To the extent possible, it is best to map out meeting plans for the local at the beginning of the year, rather than scheduling events on a month-to-month basis.
The meeting calendar should include general membership meetings, executive board meetings, and training sessions. Scheduling events in advance whenever possible permits local officials to plan around holidays or other events that might result in poor attendance at the meeting. It also allows your members to adjust their personal schedules so they can attend.
Conference and Convention Schedule for the Upcoming Year: Advance planning for upcoming conferences and conventions is critical in making sure that the local has sufficient resources to send delegates to these events. It also permits local members and officers to plan their schedules around the events.
Shred Old Financial Records and Grievances: Federal law requires local officials to keep original, hard-copy or electronic files of all its financial records for five years.
After five years, the records should be shredded or disposed of because they contain personal information that could result in identity theft. Additionally, disposing of hard-copy files will free up significant storage space. Large quantities of hard-copy files should be shredded by a commercial company. Electronic files should be fully and completely erased. Any building title documents and other real estate papers should be kept as long as the property is owned by the local.
Old, closed grievance files should be disposed of and shredded for the same reason: They contain personal information that could result in identity theft.
Although there is no federal mandate regarding grievance files, it is recommended that closed grievance files be kept for five years, then disposed of along with old financial records. Locals may want to keep copies of closed arbitration and class-action cases for a longer period of time. The Electronic Grievance System will facilitate electronic storage of grievance files.
Updating Local Inventory of Assets: Did the local purchase any equipment, furniture, or other items with a value in excess of $500 dollars last year? If so, did you add it to your inventory of local property? Every time big-ticket items are purchased for the local union, they should be recorded in the inventory of union assets. You should record the serial number (if applicable), the price of the item, where it is located, and, if the item was issued to a member or officer, who it was issued to.
Archiving Minutes: The minutes of your executive board meetings and membership meetings are considered legal records of the union. Because these minutes will contain the motions passed to authorize spending local funds, they are also financial records.
Unlike regular financial records, which must be kept for five years, minutes should be kept forever, as they document the history of your union. Some local unions have their minutes bound into books or volumes; however, the minutes can also be stored electronically. No matter how they are stored, local officials must ensure that the minutes are in a safe place.
Remember, by scheduling these chores, you can make sure to plan for them. Once you have started these chores, you will be surprised at how easy it will be to keep up with your local housekeeping.
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