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How Convention Works

Election of Delegates

Prior to the opening of the Convention, local unions, councils and retiree chapters elected delegates to represent them at the 43rd International Convention. The delegates’ credential papers were certified by their respective officers and sent to the International Secretary-Treasurer, in accordance with the requirements of the International Constitution.

Convention Committees

Several Convention committees were appointed by the International President, with the approval of the International Executive Board (IEB). Credentials, Elections, Appeals, Resolutions, Rules and Order of Business, and Sergeant-at-Arms. Some committees meet prior to the opening of the Convention and will make reports during the Convention as needed.

The major responsibility of the Credentials Committee is to make sure that all the credentials received for the Convention meet the requirements for participation. A delegate whose credentials comes to the committee after the 20th day prior to the Convention is considered an irregular delegate and is not included in the committee’s initial report.

Shortly after the adoption of its initial report, the Committee will make a second report and will move to seat the irregular delegates.

The Committee on Rules and Order of Business recommends the rules of procedure for the Convention. Until new rules are adopted, the rules governing the 42nd International Convention are in effect. A copy of the new rules proposed by the committee is provided at the opening session and you will have an opportunity to vote on their adoption.

The Sergeant-at-Arms Committee assists the chairperson in maintaining order and decorum in the Convention Hall. Members of the committee assist delegates who want to be heard during discussions. Sergeants-at- Arms also ensure that only persons with approved credentials are on the Convention floor. In addition, they are responsible for counting delegates on standing votes.

The Constitution Committee considers all proposed amendments to the AFSCME International Constitution and makes a report to the full Convention with recommendations on each proposed amendment.

The International Constitution also requires the International Executive Board to make a recommendation on each proposed amendment.

Those recommendations will be included in the report of the Constitution Committee.

The Appeals Committee reviews all cases appealed to the Convention from either the International Executive Board (IEB) or the Judicial Panel. The committee hears presentations on these cases and reports on each to the Convention with recommendations as to the appropriate decisions. 

The Resolutions Committee is one of several committees that considers Convention resolutions.

The Credentials, Appeals and Resolutions Committees meet prior to the Convention and will meet again during the Convention to hear presentations from the delegates before acting on the issues referred to those committees.

Resolutions submitted to the Convention are also assigned to other committees as appropriate (Budget, Taxes and Economic Affairs, Health Care, Federal Policy, Organizing, Political Action/PEOPLE and others as needed).

The Elections Committee conducts the election for officers. At the Convention, we will elect a Secretary-Treasurer and two International Vice Presidents to fill vacancies. BallotPoint Election Services will assist the Elections Committee.

Committee meetings will be held during the Convention. Meeting times and locations are in the Delegate Guide.

All delegates are entitled to attend and appear before any committee meeting. Reports are given by the committees during the business sessions and the delegates vote in response to the reports.

Admission to Convention

Registered delegates receive a Delegate Kit and badge that admits them to the floor of the Convention every day. Alternate delegates are given kits and badges that admit them to the section of the Convention Hall reserved for alternates and guests.

Convention Rules

In a gathering of several thousand people, rules of order are necessary to conduct business in an organized and democratic way. Becoming familiar with and following the rules of the Convention will make your participation more effective. Although the official rules of the 43rd International Convention are not adopted until the opening session, the rules of the 42nd International Convention will be in effect until the new rules are adopted. 

In addition, the following procedures will help you prepare to take an active role. AFSCME uses Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised as its guide on issues that are not addressed in the International Constitution or the rules adopted by the Convention. However, the International Constitution takes precedence, and all rules must be consistent with the Constitution.

Addressing the Convention

How do I get to the floor when I have something to say?

If you want to address the Convention, go to a microphone near you. A Sergeant-at-Arms located at the microphone will ask whether you wish to speak on the issue or whether you have a question on a point of order.

The Sergeant-at-Arms then will signal the Chairperson and indicate the reason you wish to speak.

What do I do when I have the floor?

First, give your name and the local, council or retiree chapter you represent. Then state why you wish to speak. When speaking on a motion you will have five minutes to speak, unless a majority of the delegates votes you an extension of time. 

What if I am interrupted by another delegate? 

Delegates may not interrupt one another except when they have a “point of order.” If the Chairperson decides the interruption is indeed a point of order, you may be asked to be seated until the question is decided. After that, you may resume speaking.

What if I think the Chairperson was wrong in determining the point of order?

The decision of the Chairperson can be appealed, but the appeal must have the support of 25 percent of the accredited delegates in order to be debated, and is then subject to a majority vote.

What if I want to speak again on the same issue?

You may do so, but only after all other delegates wishing to speak on that issue have done so.

What if I think the debate has gone on long enough?

You may go to a microphone and tell the Sergeant-at-Arms you wish to “move the previous question” or “close debate.” Once your motion is made and seconded, the Chairperson is required by the rules to put your motion to a vote. This motion requires a two-thirds vote for adoption. If the ayes have it, debate is closed by a decision of the Convention, and the delegates must proceed to vote on the issue. If only one side of the issue has been heard at the time the previous question is moved, the Chairperson is required to permit one delegate on the other side of the issue to speak before a vote is taken on the motion to close debate.

How do I make a motion to reconsider a vote the Convention has already taken?

If you voted on the winning side of the issue, you may move to have the decision of the Convention reconsidered. You must make the motion to reconsider no later than the meeting following the meeting in which the original vote was taken.

Is it possible to amend a motion made as part of a committee report?

Yes. This may be done in the same manner as amending other motions and resolutions. However, any proposed constitutional amendment that needs only a majority vote of the Convention requires a two-thirds vote for revision. If this is done, it then takes only a majority vote to pass the revised amendment.

Voting at the Convention

Who can vote at this Convention?

Only accredited delegates who are properly seated by the Convention may vote. 

When and how do delegates vote?

Delegates vote for resolutions, amendments and committee reports. Most decisions are made by voice vote, with the Chairperson exercising his or her best judgment on the decision. However, decisions can be challenged from the floor.

How do I challenge the Chairperson’s decision on a voice vote?

A delegate who wants to appeal the announced results of a voice vote can request a standing vote. When a standing vote is taken, the delegates voting for the motion are asked to stand. Those who oppose the motion are then asked to stand. The Chairperson announces the result. A delegate may then request a standing counted vote, and the Sergeants- at-Arms count the number standing in support of the motion and in opposition and report their count to the Chairperson. The Chairperson announces the results.

How do I challenge the result of a standing vote?

A delegate who wants to appeal the announced result of a counted standing vote can do so only by requesting a roll-call vote. Before the roll- call vote can go forward, this request must be supported by 25 percent of the accredited delegates. When a roll-call vote is requested, the delegates who supported the request are asked to stand. If the result is not apparent from viewing the standing delegates, the Sergeants-at-Arms count the number standing in support of the motion and report their count to the Chairperson.

How does a roll-call vote work? 

Once the Chairperson has ordered a roll-call vote, no adjournment or recess or special order is possible until the roll call is completed. The International Secretary-Treasurer calls each local, council and retiree chapter by number and state, and announces the number of votes to which each is entitled. Councils are called first, then local unions and then retiree chapters. A representative of each delegation answering must stand, give his or her name and cast the votes for the delegation. Three official tellers, appointed by the Chairperson, record the votes and the Chairperson announces the results after the final tabulation.


During the last several months, local unions, councils and retiree chapters discussed issues of importance to AFSCME members. Some of these discussions and decisions resulted in proposed resolutions and proposed amendments to the International Constitution. These were signed by the subordinate bodies’ president and secretary (or by one or more certified delegates), and sent to the International Secretary-Treasurer.

The International Union made copies of proposed resolutions and amendments received 20 days prior to the Convention. These copies are included in your Delegate Kit.

What happened to the resolution submitted by my local?

If your resolution was submitted to the International Secretary-Treasurer prior to 20 days before the opening of the Convention, it was assigned to a committee for discussion and recommendations. Copies were made available to all delegates and when the committee reports it to the full Convention, your resolution will be acted on.

Is it possible to submit a resolution during the Convention?

Yes, but only if consent is given by a two-thirds vote of the Convention. At that time, it is assigned to a committee for its recommendation and is acted on subsequently by the full Convention. (The Constitution also provides that the President or the International Executive Board may introduce a resolution for consideration at any time up to and including the fourth day of the Convention.)

May I attend committee meetings to discuss resolutions?

Yes. Any delegate may attend any committee meeting to speak on resolutions. The committees considering resolutions and amendments will meet immediately after the Convention recesses on Monday, and the delegates will be advised of the meeting rooms. Committees have the authority to designate times when non-committee members may speak and set time limits on their statements. In addition, committees may, by majority vote, exclude delegates who are not members of the committee during deliberations and/or voting. 

How does the Convention vote on resolutions?

Resolutions are acted on by voice votes of the full Convention. The same general rules apply to voice votes on resolutions that apply to other voice votes.

Constitutional Amendments

The AFSCME International Constitution is a living document that must be amended from time to time as changing circumstances demand. Constitutional amendments can only be adopted by the delegates to an International Convention.

How are amendments to the AFSCME International Constitution introduced?

Amendments to the Constitution that were submitted to the International Secretary-Treasurer no later than 120 days before the Convention — and mailed to all locals, councils and retiree chapters at least 90 days prior to the Convention — may be passed by a majority vote. Amendments received less than 120 days prior to the Convention require a two-thirds vote for passage. 

Is it possible to submit an amendment at the Convention?

Yes, but only if two-thirds of the delegates agree. It then would be assigned to the Constitution Committee. Amendments introduced in this manner must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Convention rather than a majority.

Does the International Executive Board have a role in the consideration of constitutional amendments? 

Yes, the Board is responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on any proposed amendment to the International Constitution.

When is the amendment effective? 

Any amendment adopted by the Convention is effective when the Convention adjourns unless the amendment states otherwise.

Electing AFSCME Officers

Delegates will elect the International Secretary-Treasurer and two International Vice Presidents (IVPs) from AFSCME legislative districts where vacancies exist.

On Tuesday, nominations will be taken from the Convention floor for AFSCME’s International Secretary-Treasurer. The Convention will then recess and delegates from those legislative districts with a vacancy to fill will go to the room assigned to that legislative-district caucus to nominate candidates for IVP.

In cases in which there are more nominees than offices to be filled, elections will be held, with the names of nominees posted in the main hall. BallotPoint Election Services will conduct these elections on Thursday, July 19, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. in Hall A of the BCEC. If a run-off is required for any election, it will be conducted on Friday, July 20. At 7 a.m. at the BCEC in Hall A.

Roles of International President and Secretary-Treasurer

The International President is the presiding officer of the Convention and chairs the General Session, but at any time may call on any delegate to preside temporarily. The President reports on the union’s activities since the last Convention. The President serves as an ex-officio member of all Convention committees except Credentials and Elections.

The President is responsible for enforcing the rules of order and has the assistance of a parliamentarian throughout the Convention. As Convention Chairperson, the President makes judgments on voice votes, recognizes persons who wish to speak, calls on committee chairpersons for reports, introduces guests and speakers and guides delegates through the demanding business of the Convention.

The International Secretary-Treasurer serves as secretary of the Convention. The Secretary-Treasurer issues the Convention Call to all locals, councils and retiree chapters and, at the opening session, reads that Call, thus initiating business.

It is the Secretary-Treasurer’s responsibility to receive the credentials of delegates and to submit them to the Credentials Committee. The Secretary-Treasurer’s staff work with the committee to provide the necessary information as to whether locals meet the constitutional requirements for representation at the Convention and to assign to each local the number of votes to which it is entitled under the International Constitution.

The Secretary-Treasurer also receives proposed resolutions and constitutional amendments, and distributes them in accordance with the International Constitution. During the Convention, the Secretary-Treasurer also maintains a record of the proceedings. Proceedings are made available to all delegates, locals, councils and retiree chapters after the Convention.