Political Education Committee bylaws

These were approved by the TAA Executive Board on July 6, 2005, and are in effect until otherwise amended as per Article 9 of this document. Revisions approved during the TAA GMM on September 14, 2017.

 

  1. Name and Definitions.

    1. Political Education Committee. This committee shall be known as the Political Education Committee (PEC) of the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA). The PEC is a standing committee of the TAA as defined in the TAA Constitution and is bound by oversight of the general membership as defined therein.
    2. TAA-PAC Fund and TAA Democracy Fund. The Teaching Assistants’ Association Political Action Committee (TAA-PAC) and the TAA Democracy Fund are two separate funds raised by voluntary contributions of members and supporters for the purpose of advancing the political goals of the union. Both funds are administered by the PEC, as detailed in Articles 5 and 6.
  2. Principles. The following goals are underlying principles of the PEC:
    1. Partisan neutrality. The TAA Political Education Committee is not affiliated with any political party, nor shall its activities or endorsements be guided by the partisan affiliation(s) of candidates or campaigns, except to the extent that such affiliation(s) impact the broader strategic goals of the TAA.
    2. Understanding. To foster awareness of the functions of government and political processes and to promote examination of political and government policy issues as they pertain to and affect TAA members.
    3. Endorsements. To help establish the TAA’s position as a union with regard to political candidates or in support of (or opposition to) social issues and government policy.
    4. Activism. To help mobilize the membership of the TAA in demonstrating support for endorsed candidates and issues.
    5. Voter Awareness. To support efforts to encourage members of the university community to take an active part in the election process through voter education and get-out-the-vote programs.
    6. Lobbying and Legislative Action. To help advance the TAA’s aims by suggesting and supporting legislation in pursuit of those aims, or by opposing legislation detrimental to the goals of the TAA.
    7. Coalition Building. To, whenever possible, seek out like-minded partners in order to broaden the effect of the TAA’s political efforts. Whenever possible, cooperation with the AFL-CIO, AFT, Wisconsin AFL-CIO, AFT-Wisconsin, South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL) and the local unions thereof should be pursued.  The input of unions more directly impacted by the results of an election or ballot initiative (e.g., Madison Teachers, Inc. with regard to local school board races) ought to be solicited as part of the endorsement process.
  3. Responsibilities of the Political Education Committee.
    1. Fundraising. The PEC will develop and execute a plan each year to ensure the financial stability of the TAA-PAC Fund and TAA Democracy Fund through donor recruitment and other fundraising efforts.
    2. Research. The PEC will identify political races of importance to TAA goals, gather information about candidates and their viewpoints, and identify and research social welfare issues and legislative proposals related to labor and/or the community at large.
    3. Political Platform. At least once each academic year, the PEC will draft a statement of positions and goals related to legislative, electoral and public policy issues to be revised and approved by TAA membership. This statement will serve as the TAA’s political platform and will guide endorsements of candidates and referenda, legislative and lobbying activity and issue advocacy. Whenever possible, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Legislative Agenda will be considered in developing the platform.
    4. Candidate Endorsements. The PEC will make informed recommendations to TAA members regarding individual political candidates. Official endorsements will be confirmed by vote at a general membership meeting.
    5. Referenda. The PEC will make informed recommendations to TAA members regarding referenda (i.e., ballots presented to citizens for approval or rejection by ballot). Official endorsements will be confirmed by vote at a general membership meeting.
    6. Issue Advocacy Recommendations. The PEC will make recommendations to union members encouraging TAA support for various issues related to the labor movement or the community at large. Official endorsement of such issues will be confirmed by vote at a general membership meeting.
    7. Publicity. Upon approval, the PEC will publicize the names and the positions of endorsed candidates and supported issues. Such endorsements will be promptly forwarded to both the candidates and the general public via press releases.
    8. Member-to-Member Communication. The PEC will inform members of the union’s approved policy positions and endorsed candidates, and encourage members to actively support said policies and candidates.
    9. Reporting to Affiliated Labor Organizations. The PEC will communicate positions and policies of the TAA with regard to political activities of affiliated organizations (e.g., AFT-Wisconsin and SCFL).
    10. Selection of COPE Delegates. The PEC will recruit and nominate at least one delegate to the AFT-Wisconsin COPE (Committee on Political Education). The PEC will also recruit and appoint two delegates to the SCFL COPE.
  4. Political Education Committee Structure.
    1. Election of Political Education Committee members.
      1. Members of the PEC shall be elected by TAA members. Members of the PEC shall be TAA members in good standing. Members of the PEC shall maintain their membership in the TAA throughout their term.
      2. Nominations and the election shall take place at the first scheduled general membership meeting of the fall semester. Only those present at the first fall semester meeting may vote.
      3. Only TAA members who are contributors to either the TAA-PAC or TAA Democracy Fund may be nominated and elected to a position on the PEC.
      4. The maximum number of voting PEC members shall be nine.
      5. If less than nine voting members are elected to the PEC during the first general membership meeting of the fall semester, the unelected committee memberships shall be considered vacant and can be filled in accordance to Article 4.E.iv of the PEC bylaws.
    2. Election of PEC Chair and Treasurer(s).
      1. Prior to the election during the first general membership meeting of the fall semester, voting members of the PEC shall nominate from among the nine committee members a chair or co-chairs. As per the TAA Constitution, the chair or co-chairs must be approved at a general membership meeting, and have one vote (in total) on the TAA Executive Board.
      2. Prior to the election during the first general membership meeting of the fall semester, voting members of the PEC shall elect from among the nine committee members one or two treasurers. The PEC may elect two treasurers, one for the TAA-PAC and one for the TAA Democracy Fund; however, one person may serve as treasurer for both funds.
      3. It is legally permissible for one person to serve in all three capacities (as the chair and as treasurer of both funds), but this is not encouraged.
    3. Duties of Chair and Treasurer.
      1. Chair. The chair (or co-chairs) shall call and chair committee meetings and serve on the TAA Executive Board. He or she shall report on the activities of the PEC at each Executive Board meeting. The chair or co-chairs shall take or shall appoint another member to take minutes of each meeting of the PEC. These minutes shall at a minimum record the motions and votes of the PEC. Minutes of the meetings shall be kept digitally on a folder shared with all members of PEC and the TAA Executive Board. Physical copies of the minutes and any supporting documents related pertaining to meetings, minutes, and votes shall be contemporaneously kept in the PEC file at the TAA office.
      2. Treasurer(s). The treasurer shall be responsible for maintaining the finances of each fund, filing all required finance reports with the appropriate agencies, ensuring that all laws are followed and shall make an annual report to the membership of the TAA regarding the financial status of TAA-PAC Fund and TAA Democracy Fund.
    4. Meetings.
      1. As per the TAA Constitution, the PEC must meet no less than once per semester. (See Article XV for further explication of the rules governing standing committees of the TAA.)
      2. The PEC is strongly encouraged to meet at least one month in advance of any election or ballot referenda.
      3. PEC meetings are open to all TAA members and invited guests.
      4. PEC meetings and the planned agenda must be announced to all TAA members who are fund contributors not less than five (5) days in advance of the meeting.
      5. Quorum for making decisions at a PEC meeting is four (4).
      6. Decisions shall be made by a simple majority of those voting (i.e., abstentions are ignored for purposes of determining the outcome of the vote). Every act or decision done or made by a majority of the members present at a meeting duly held at which a quorum is present is the act of the committee.
      7. Absentee voting on motions shall be permitted only after meetings in which the motion was raised but a quorum was absent.
    5. Vacancies.
      1. Chair or Co-Chair. Vacancy of the chair or co-chair shall exist on the resignation of the chair or co-chair. The chair or co-chair may resign effective upon giving written notice to the Co-Presidents of the TAA. At the next official meeting, voting members of the PEC shall nominate from among the remaining committee members a new chair (if none exist) or co-chair (if deemed appropriate) who shall serve as acting chair or acting co-chair pending approval at the next general membership meeting.
      2. Treasurer. Vacancy of the treasurer shall exist on the resignation of the treasurer. The treasurer may resign effective upon giving written notice to the chair or co-chair of the PEC. At the next official meeting, voting members of the PEC shall elect from among the remaining committee members a new treasurer.
      3. Member. Vacancy of a member shall exist on the resignation of the member. A member may resign effective upon giving written notice to the chair or co-chair of the PEC.
      4. If the total number of members of the PEC drops below nine, then the remaining members of the PEC can seek to fill the vacancies. The replacement members of the PEC shall be elected by the TAA membership. Nominations and the election of replacement members shall take place at the next scheduled general membership meeting following the decision to fill vacancies.
  5.  TAA-PAC Fund.
    1. Sponsorship. The TAA is the corporate sponsor of the TAA-PAC as defined by Wis. Stat. § 11.38(1)(a)2.
    2. Definition. The TAA Political Action Committee Fund (TAA-PAC Fund) is a committee as defined by Wis. Stat. § 11.01(4) and is registered with the Wisconsin State Elections Board in accordance with Wis. Stat. § 11.05(3)  (It is not a registered federal political action committee).The TAA-PAC Fund monies are deposited at Associated Bank, 640 University Ave., Madison, WI, 53715.The checkbook for this account resides in the TAA office at 520 University Ave., Suite 220, Madison, WI, 53703.
    3. Source of Funds.
      1. Fund Status. The TAA-PAC is a segregated fund under Wis. Stat. 11.38.
      2. Eligible Donors. Only U.S citizens or permanent residents may contribute to the TAA-PAC Fund.
      3. Methods of Contribution. Contributions to the TAA-PAC Fund may be made by paycheck deduction in whole dollar amounts; via check made to “TAA-PAC”; or in cash donations of $20.00 or less.
      4. Transfer of Union Dues. No dues funds shall be transferred to the TAA-PAC Fund without an explicit directive from the membership through action at a general membership meeting.
      5. Transfer of Funds from Other Committees. The Political Education Committee may vote to accept contributions from other Political Action Committees as allowed by law.
      6. Legal Requirements. The PEC Treasurer shall note all contributions over $200 by a single donor over a calendar year. The treasurer shall note the amount of the donation and the donor’s name, address, employer and job title.  This information shall be included in the regular filings with the State Elections Board.
    4. Appropriate Expenditures. The PEC may spend TAA-PAC Fund monies in the following ways, (keeping in mind that no TAA-PAC Fund money may be spent on behalf of candidates for federal office):
      1. Direct Contributions to Candidate Committees;
      2. In-Kind contributions to Candidate Committees;
      3. Independent Expenditures on behalf of candidates;
      4. Contributions to other Political Action Committees;
      5. Purchasing tickets to fundraising events;
      6. Filing fees and administrative costs as required by law (See the glossary for definition of terms utilized in this section).
    5. Limits on Expenditures.
      1. All direct, in-kind and independent expenditures related to campaigns for federal office are prohibited.
      2. Direct and In-Kind contributions to candidate committees shall be limited to $1,000 for candidates endorsed by the TAA and to $500 for candidates endorsed by an affiliated union unless the maximum contribution allowed by law is less than these amounts.
      3. At the discretion of the Political Education Committee, TAA-PAC Fund monies may be spent on tickets to fundraising events even if the candidate has not been endorsed by the TAA.
      4. Independent Expenditures may be made on behalf of any candidate endorsed by the TAA or an affiliated union.
      5. All printed materials distributed to members or the public that are funded by the TAA-PAC Fund shall bear the words “Authorized and Paid for By (AAPFB) TAA-PAC,(insert current PEC treasurer name), Treasurer” unless other language shall be required by law.
      6. Expenditures which would deplete 50% of the Fund for any one election cycle must be approved by the Executive Board.
    6. Fiscal Accountability. The TAA-PAC Fund shall be managed in such a way as to provide transparency to TAA members.
      1. Annual Audit. Once each year, three trustees shall be elected by the membership to conduct an audit of the TAA-PAC Fund.  Trustees must be PAC Fund and/or Democracy Fund donors, must be from different employing departments and may not be members of the Political Education Committee.  They shall prepare a report to be presented at a General Membership Meeting.
      2. Reports at General Membership Meetings. The Treasurer of the TAA-PAC Fund shall report on spending and note the balance in the account the General Membership Meeting following each election in which expenditures have been made and shall answer questions from TAA members regarding TAA-PAC Fund finances.
  6. TAA Democracy Fund.
    1. Sponsorship. The TAA Democracy Fund is a self-supporting PAC and is not sponsored by the TAA.
    2. Definition. The TAA Democracy Fund is a committee as defined by Wis. Stat. § 11.01(4) and is registered with the Wisconsin State Elections Board in accordance with Wis. Stat. § 11.05(3).  (It is not a registered federal political action committee.) The TAA Democracy Fund monies are deposited at Associated Bank, 640 University Ave., Madison, WI, 53715. The checkbook for this account resides in the TAA office at 520 University Ave., Suite 220, Madison, WI, 53703.
    3. Source of Funds.
      1. Eligible Donors. Any person may contribute to the TAA Democracy Fund.
      2. Methods of Contribution. Contributions to the TAA Democracy Fund may be made by paycheck deduction in whole dollar amounts; via check made to “TAA Democracy Fund”; via the donation links online at the TAA PEC website; or in cash donations of $20.00 or less
      3. Transfer of Union Dues. No union dues may be transferred to the TAA Democracy Fund.
      4. Transfer of Funds from Other Committees. The Political Education Committee may vote to accept contributions from other Political Action Committees as allowed by law.
      5. Legal Requirements. The PEC Treasurer shall note all contributions over $200 by a single donor over a calendar year. The treasurer shall note the amount of the donation and the donor’s name, address, employer and job title.  This information shall be included in the regular filings with the State Elections Board.
    4. Appropriate Expenditures. The PEC may spend TAA Democracy Fund monies in the following ways:
      1. Issue Advocacy.
      2. Contributions to advocacy campaigns by other groups.
      3. Advocating the promotion or defeat of a referendum.
      4. Member-to-member communication.
      5. Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts.
      6. Contributions to SCFL-COPE or the Labor Coalition for member communication and GOTV efforts.
      7. Social and Educational Events.
      8. Political Education Committee supplies, administrative costs and meeting support.
      9. Lobbying Expenses.
      10. TAA-PAC Fund and TAA Democracy Fund fundraising efforts.
      11. Donations to co-sponsor events or support other groups.
      12. Member attendance at events, other than fundraisers.
    5. Office Maintenance.  Each April, the Treasurer of the TAA Democracy Fund shall come to an agreement with the Treasurer of the TAA as to an appropriate amount of payment for use of TAA office space, utilities, printing costs, and services for the fiscal year ending May 31st.  Such amount shall be paid to the TAA from the TAA Democracy Fund no later than May 31st of each year.
    6. Limits on Expenditures.
      1. Direct or In-Kind Contributions and Independent Expenditures are forbidden, except as permitted by law with regards to ballot initiatives.
      2. No more than $500 shall be contributed to other groups without Executive Board approval.
      3. All printed materials distributed to members or the public that are funded by the TAA Democracy Fund shall bear the words “Authorized and Paid for By (AAPFB) TAA Democracy Fund,(insert current PEC treasurer name), Treasurer” unless other language shall be required by law.
      4. Any social or educational events funded by the TAA Democracy Fund, including events to which the Fund has made a donation, shall be advertised as sponsored (or co-sponsored) by the TAA Democracy Fund.
      5. Expenditures which would deplete 50% of the Fund for any one election cycle must be approved by the Executive Board.
    7. Fiscal Accountability.
      1. Annual Audit. Once each year, three trustees (who need not be different from those for the TAA-PAC fund) shall be elected by the membership to conduct an audit of the TAA Democracy Fund.  Trustees must be PAC Fund and/or Democracy Fund donors, must be from different employing departments and may not be members of the Political Education Committee.  They shall prepare a report to be presented at a General Membership Meeting.
      2. Reports at General Membership Meetings.  The Treasurer of the TAA Democracy Fund shall report on spending and note the balance in the account the General Membership Meeting following each election in which expenditures have been made and shall answer questions from TAA members regarding TAA Democracy Fund finances.
  7. Compliance.
    1. Legal. The PEC shall comply with all local, state, and federal election laws.  The PEC shall consult when necessary with the union’s attorney and state federation staff to ensure that its practices are changed as required to comply with changes in all local, state, and federal election laws.
    2. TAA Constitution and Bylaws. The PEC shall comply with all requirements of the TAA Constitution and Bylaws.
    3. Union Policy. The PEC shall comply with all decisions and requirements as imposed by the general membership and/or the Executive Board, and shall take actions in accordance with union policy as set through General Membership Meetings and/or Executive Board meetings.
    4. Savings Clause. This section, the TAA Constitution, TAA Bylaws, and other union policy, shall not be interpreted as authorizing the PEC to disobey local, state, or federal election laws.  In the event that the TAA Constitution, TAA Bylaws, and other union policy conflict with local, state, or federal election laws, the PEC shall inform the membership and recommend appropriate changes to policy or amendments to the PEC bylaws so as to conform to current law.
  8. Nonliability of Members. The members of PEC shall not be personally liable for the debts, liabilities, or other obligations of the PEC
  9. Amendments to PEC Bylaws.
    1. Proposed Language Changes. Amendments to these bylaws may be initiated by submitting proposed language changes to the chair of the Political Education Committee.  The chair must then submit a copy of the proposed changes to all Executive Board members no later than 10 days in advance of the next scheduled Executive Board meeting.
    2. Consideration by Executive Board.  If the Executive Board approves the proposed changes by a majority vote, those changes are then forwarded to the next scheduled General Membership Meeting for consideration.  The proposed changes must be provided to the general membership no later than 5 days in advance of the meeting at which they will be considered.
    3. Consideration by General Membership Meeting.  If approved by majority vote at a General Membership Meeting, the proposed language changes shall be incorporated into the Political Education Committee bylaws.  The Chair of the committee shall update the bylaws and ensure that all committee members are aware of the changes.
  10. Glossary.
    1. Direct Contribution.  Giving a candidate (through his/her election committee) a check.  (By law, there are limits to the amount of money that can be given.)
    2. In-Kind Contribution.  Buying something (a product or a service) that benefits a candidate’s election committee.  This includes, but is not limited to, providing or copying literature for a candidate to distribute; providing office space and use of equipment, including use of telephones, without charging for their use; or buying a newspaper ad with the knowledge of or in coordination with the candidate’s election committee.  (Again, the law limits the value of in-kind contributions that can be given.)
    3. Independent Expenditure.  Any expenditure (usually advertising) that benefits the candidate’s election committee, or urges support for that candidate, that is done without knowledge of or in coordination with the candidate’s election committee.  (There are no limits on the amount of money that can be spent on these expenditures – but they must truly be independent – absolutely no coordination with the candidate’s campaign can take place.
    4. PAC. A political action committee, or PAC, is a legal term that simply means a fund of money given voluntarily by individual persons for the purpose of political action
    5. COPE. Both AFT-Wisconsin and SCFL have a “committee on political education”, these organization’s equivalent to the TAA’s PEC. The TAA PEC is responsible for nominating or appointing delegates to these committees.