Every employee of Amherst College who holds regular employment (as defined in the Staff Handbook), and is not a member of the senior staff of the College, shall be represented by the Employee Council and shall be considered a represented employee. Every represented employee is part of a constituent group with a corresponding member on the Employee Council. All represented employees may participate in electing these corresponding representatives.
Every represented employee is eligible to serve on the Employee Council except those who, at the time of service on the Employee Council, are or will be concurrent members of the Managers Council, senior staff, or board of trustees.
The Employee Council will consist of 13 seats with voting privileges.
Election of Members to the Employee Council
All elections, which are managed by the Elections Committee, shall include the nomination of candidates, nominees’ acceptance of candidacy, and a balloting process which preserves the voter’s privacy.
All represented employees will be organized into constituencies which will be the basis for electing members to the Employee Council. Currently there are thirteen representatives from precincts across campus. In defining the constituent groups, a common geographic location on campus and/or similarity of work experiences may be taken into consideration. Size and number of the constituent groups should be re-evaluated annually.
Schedule of Elections
Calls for nominations and elections should be timed to reach a successful conclusion by the end of June. This will allow for the smooth transition of responsibilities before the commencement of the new term in August.
Elections and Terms
An Employee Council member will be elected by a plurality of the votes cast by the represented employees of the constituent group. Elections shall be staggered so six seats are filled one year and seven the following year. In races where there are three or more candidates, an “instant-runoff” (ranked-choice) voting system will be employed to determine a winner. (The instant-runoff voting system is described here.) In the event of a tie in a race involving two candidates, the precinct ballot will reopen for three weeks to break the tie. If votes remain tied after the second round of voting, the winner will be decided by a majority vote of the Employee Council. If a current member of the council is involved in the race, they will recuse themselves from the vote. If the winner of the tie-break election is ultimately unable to serve, the seat will be offered to the runner up. If the runner-up chooses not to take the seat, the seat will be filled by following the vacancy procedures described in the next section. The person who is chosen to fill this seat will be considered an interim member of the council since they were not officially elected by their precinct.
Each Employee Council member is expected to serve a full term of two years. A member may serve no more than four consecutive terms.
Representative Vacancy Procedures
Provisions will be made when a representative is not able to complete a full term of service. When possible, the outgoing representative should contact the constituent group to inform them of the resignation from the council and to solicit volunteers to complete the outgoing member’s term. When this is not possible, the Chair of the Elections Committee will contact and solicit volunteers from the constituent group of the vacated seat.
Within two Employee Council meetings of a member’s declared date of resignation from the Council, the Council shall appoint an interim council member, regardless of the amount of time remaining in the term. Any interested and eligible member of the constituent group may put themselves forward to fill the vacated seat. Consideration may also be given to the runner up of the most recent election in the constituent group in question; or to other nominees from the most recent election; or to persons recommended by the outgoing member. If there is more than one person interested, each candidate will send a statement of interest to the Chair of the Elections Committee to be presented at the next Employee Council meeting. The Council shall then select a representative by majority vote of the Council. If no candidates present themselves within this time limit, the Council shall appoint someone from the constituent group.
Interim members shall serve out the remainder of the term of the vacated council seat. The time remaining in the term, regardless of its length, shall be considered the interim member’s full term. A new election will take place in the normal rotation of elections for that constituent group. Until they can be elected by their constituents in the next regular election, interim members may not serve as officers.
Recall of Members
Procedures for the recall of a member shall be established. A recall procedure may only be implemented by unanimous vote of all council members, less the vote associated with the seat considered for recall. Consideration of a recall may be raised due to:
- Excessive absenteeism or absences from more than three consecutive Council meetings.
- Frequent disruptive activity or disrespect for colleagues.
- Dissatisfaction expressed by a constituent group about the quality of representation.
- Concerns of the Employee Council regarding the member’s ability to fulfill council duties.
The officers shall be elected by the Employee Council members using normal voting procedures and will serve in the elected position for one year. The maximum service for an officer is limited to four consecutive years in the same position.
Two Co-Chairs will share (as they deem suitable) the following responsibilities: to call and facilitate regular meetings at least once a month and additional special meetings, as necessary; with input from the council members, prepare the agenda for each meeting; manage the yearly transition process, including the election of officers.The Co-Chairs will serve as primary contact with senior administrators and college committees. The Chairs may delegate responsibility to ensure the effective functioning of the Employee Council, including communication with senior staff or constituents on behalf of the Council. If one of the Co-Chairs leaves the Council, the remaining Co-Chair will serve as Chair until another Co-Chair can be elected.
If preferred, the council can choose to operate with a single Chairperson. All responsibilities and duties described above would be assumed by that sole member. In this instance, a Co-Chair will be elected to assist the Chair. In the Chair’s absence, the Co-Chair shall serve as the acting Chair. The Co-Chair manages the yearly transition process including the election of officers. The Co-Chair does not automatically advance to the position of Chair in the following term.
The Treasurer is responsible for ensuring funds allocated to the Employee Council are properly accounted for and will report fund disbursements to the council.
Committees and Working Groups
Committees and working groups are important to the effective functioning of the council. Therefore, each council member is expected to serve on at least one working group or committee. For our purposes, committees are understood to consist of collection of members working internally, while working groups interface with the leadership of other college offices and departments.
- The Employee Council may create working groups as needed to complete the work of the council.
- The Employee Council shall have six (6) standing working groups/committees: Communications; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Elections; Events; Governance; Human Resources.
- Working group and committee membership shall be drawn from the membership of the Employee Council. When additional expertise is needed, any college employee may be invited to participate in these groups.
- Each working group and committee shall elect a chairperson who will regularly apprise the council of the group’s progress.
Standing Working Groups and Committees
The Communications Committee will:
- Maintain a steady publicity campaign for all events and activities of the Employee Council. This shall include the creation and maintenance of all social media platforms and print media.
- Maintain the Employee Council website.
- Work with all other working groups to communicate to and inform the staff of all events, initiatives, and elections of the Employee Council.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I)
The Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DE&I) Working Group will:
- Gather information in relation to experiences and needs of staff from historically and presently marginalized/underrepresented communities and identities and regularly communicate staff needs with the Director of Inclusive Leadership.
- Coordinate trainings/workshops for the council and working group in order to grow in our own understanding of issues related to DE&I, especially as they relate to our ability to serve our constituents.
The Elections Committee will:
- Reconcile constituent groups to ensure equitable representation across campus,
- Seek nominations for positions on the Employee Council,
- Conduct elections,
- Recommend staff members for college committees, who will be voted on by the full Employee Council, and
- Promote participation in the Employee Council and college committees.
The Events Committee will:
- Design and implement Employee Council events like Open Houses and campus wide meetings
The Governance Committee will:
- Review the bylaws and recommend changes as appropriate,
- Develop and conduct an orientation program for new Employee Council members, and
- Create and maintain a guide for Employee Council members.
Human Resources (HR)
The HR Working Group will:
- Meet regularly with Human Resources,
- Recommend changes in and offer feedback about benefits, personnel policies and all aspects of the employment environment, and
- Advocate for staff and seek ideas from constituents. The HR working group will bring constituent concerns to Human Resources but will not negotiate individual grievances.
College committees (standing and ad hoc) play an important role in the affairs of the college and its staff. The Employee Council may nominate employees to these committees, upon request.
The Employee Council sends two staff representatives with voting privileges to the Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR). The CPR is charged with examining the annual and long-term allocation of college resources. Staff representatives to the CPR should be selected first from the members of the Employee Council and they should serve on the CPR for two years. To the best of its ability, the council should stagger CPR representatives’ terms. Instead of selecting from its own membership, the council may select any employee to serve on the CPR using the nomination process for Service on College Committees.
A quorum shall consist of two-thirds of total seats of the Employee Council. A quorum must be present to conduct business. All matters shall require a simple majority of the total seats of the Employee Council.
Additions and changes may be made to the Employee Council Bylaws as deemed necessary by the Council. Changes to the Bylaws must be approved by an unanimous vote of the quorum present at an Employee Council meeting.
Revised March 2020