Article XII, Chapters
Section 5. Not exclude Full members.
Chapters may not exclude Full members who live within their geographical area. If chapters elect to charge reasonable dues for membership this is not considered exclusionary.
The meaning and purpose of "exclusion" as it applies to VFP and its chapters needs elaboration and clarification. It's a term that has been misused by one occasional member of our chapter to sabotage our right to collect mandatory dues. (Please see our proposed amendment to Article XII, Section 4.) In another instance this same person tried, unsuccessfully, to use the term to deny our authority to expel a member from the chapter (not VFP) for cause. Our proposed amendment is an attempt to insert some clarity with respect to dues. We believe the Board as well VFP members in general should give serious consideration to further expanding the definition of what exactly constitutes exclusion.
When the bylaws were amended two years ago to prohibit chapters from charging mandatory dues it was asserted by the person referenced above that payment of National's annual dues automatically satisfies any dues requirement of a local chapter, and, therefore, mandatory dues for chapter membership are prohibited because they "exclude" those VFP members who refuse to pay. First of all, prior to two years ago, there was nothing in VFP's bylaws stating that payment of National's dues had anything to do with chapter dues. The change prohibiting mandatory dues was sold using an entirely false premise. Moreover, dues related "exclusion" is absurd on its face because chapter dues are, or should be, structured such no one is excluded from membership based on inability to pay.
Equally important is the matter of fairness and equity. When members pay National's dues they receive certain tangible benefits along with voting and other rights. That's fair – value received. What chapters provide their members by way of benefits is quite different. Along with camaraderie, organizing efforts at the local level confer power and meaning in the daily lives of chapter members. It's also where we meet prospective new members. Especially active chapters, such as ours, pour a lot of resources, financial and otherwise, into these organizing efforts. Mandatory dues help cover a significant portion of the expenses involved. It is not fair that National's bylaws deprive us of this source of income based on a tortured definition of exclusion. And in terms of equity, doing so is akin to the recent Supreme Court decision that permits freeloading by forbidding unions from collecting mandatory dues. Our members recognize the value received and do not object to paying chapter dues (except for one member). National's bylaws should not stand in the way.
Submitted by Jeff Brummer, Treasurer
and Executive Committee Member, VFP Chapter 9