MEAA Federal Council votes to move to appointed CEO

MEAA1The  leaders of the union representing journalists musicians and actors have voted overwhelmingly to put in place a new structure with a board appointed CEO in place of the current model of an elected federal secretary, removing the ability of members to directly elect the head of the union.

In a vote held yesterday in Sydney, the Federal Council of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) voted 64 to 28 to abolish the current model replacing it with a CEO who will be appointed by the elected federal management committee.

The win, which was tipped yesterday, is seen by some members as a victory for those aligned with current union secretary Chris Warren, who recently announced he would step down after nearly two decades at the helm of the union, and has since become a strong advocate for the change.

Warren told Mumbrella: “There was was a majority in every section in favour of the motion. There has been a good debate, we have had a robust debate both leading into council and at council and I think people are comfortable with the decision we have made.“There is now an understanding that the activists in the union need to ensure they run the politics of the organisation, which is what is appropriate for them, and then we will be looking for someone who can run an organisation that turns over about $10m a year and employs about 70 staff.”

The decision had been strongly opposed by many in the journalist and crew sections of the union, some of who launched a website “MEAA needs democracy“, which calls on members to post comments of support calling for the right to elect the union leader.

It is understood the transition to a CEO will occur in the latter half of the year with elections for the current leadership required by April of 2015.

Many of those opposed to the move to a CEO are allies of Sydney Morning Herald morning news editor Marcus Strom, who had been tipped to become the next federal secretary following the news Warren would depart. At this stage it is not clear whether Strom will put his hand up for the position of CEO of the MEAA.

“We have got 12 months to work this out. The next stage is that the board will get some external recruitment advice”, said Warren. “We are open to (someone from the membership) but what we want is someone who can do the job of managing the organisation.”

Nic Christensen

(Disclosure: Nic Christensen is a member of the MEAA) 


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