Monthly Assembly Meetings

by Peter Parks

Photo by Douglas Yarrow

As a member of the Executive Committee I have tried to attend various functions to better understand how the organization works.  My first experience was to attend a retreat in which we were putting together a Strategic Plan for VOZ.  Talk about being thrown into the deep water!  Actually that was a good experience and a good way to learn a lot about VOZ in a short time.
I have attended a number of Monthly Assemblies over the last two years and have seen remarkable changes in how the meetings are run and the increased respect that members appear to have for the leaders on the Day Labor Committee.  After an early meeting in which there was considerable bantering back and forth (in Spanish, which I understand very little of), I was asked by someone what I thought.  I said it seemed very much like some union meetings I had attended, with people yelling at each other and not much apparent order.
Last year things changed a lot.  No longer were meetings run largely by staff.  Elected officials ran the meeting and took notes.  Business was taken care of in an orderly fashion.  I was impressed.
The comparison between Monthly Assembly meetings and Union meetings is intentional.  I believe that the worker-run center is very similar to rank-and-file leadership in the best (most democratic) unions.
I applaud the day laborers who have put many hours of I’m sure frustrating work into building the center into a real asset to the community.  I look forward to enjoying many more visits to the Monthly Assemblies.