ASTA to Recast Restructure Plan

Rejection prompts Copland, coalition to schedule talks

By: Robert Carlsen

Now that ASTA has voted down a proposal to eliminate most elected officials and area chapters, President Richard Copland reportedly has scheduled a conference call with leaders of a coalition that opposed the original plan.

Even though Copland was an active cheerleader for the change, he said, “It was democracy in action, and I’m proud to be a part of the process.

“Moreover, I am proud that ASTA is important enough to its members that people got involved in an active discussion about the proposed changes.”

An influential coalition of past and present national and regional ASTA officials opposed the plan on the basis that it was too severe.

It also said that the grass-roots voice was not heard while the issue was being deliberated behind closed doors by a headquarters-selected task force.

Coalition member Linda Rawlings, who is director of area 16, based in Denver, said that her group and many other members opposed to the original plan realize that something needs to change at ASTA.

She referred specifically to balancing the organization’s budget and setting future priorities.

“We all understand we need to tighten our belts,” she said. Rawlings said the coalition has received “numerous” ideas and recommendations from agents.

These ideas will be passed along to ASTA headquarters prior to the board of directors meeting, she said.

ASTA’s task force for a new governance plan, approved by ASTA’s board of directors in December, recommended dissolving 18 U.S. chapters out of the current 32.

It also proposed reducing area directorships from 16 to 7, cutting board members from 24 to 19, naming three board-appointed members-at-large from large agencies and consortia.

In addition, it included setting up a “council” system.

Such an arrangement would permit dissolved chapters to organize sub-chapters if they each could muster at least 40 voting agent members. ASTA officials said the cost savings would be in the neighborhood of $500,000 over two years.

The e-mail vote was 855 against the change to 539 for the change, or 61 percent to 39 percent.

Copland said the turnout was about 20 percent of the travel agent voting membership.

Rawlings said the turnout was “impressive for a bylaws vote.”

She said her group figured that 20 to 23 percent of members would vote. “Usually, bylaw votes are rubber-stamped,” she said, “but not this time.”