A few days ago, AIHA published new documents on its website about proposed changes to the AIHA bylaws: a summary of the major changes and the text of the proposed additions and deletions (PDFs). Together, these documents thoroughly describe the nature and extent of the proposed changes, so there’s no need for me to do that in this post. Instead, I would like to provide a little more context about what will change—and what will not change—if members vote to approve the proposal.
A Move Toward More Inclusive Membership Categories
The most significant proposed changes are the new definitions of member categories. The categories of associate member and affiliate member would be eliminated and members currently in those categories would become full members. The definition of “full member” would be broadened to include anyone who “has a business interest in or supports the industrial hygiene, occupational and environmental health and safety, or allied professions.” Requirements would be eliminated for specific academic degrees and professional experience. The intent behind this change is to make AIHA membership more inclusive: we should embrace all individuals who share our passion and interest in protecting worker health, no matter their academic or professional background.
Clarification of Student Membership
After feedback from AIHA’s student local sections, the Board of Directors decided to adjust the language of its proposed changes to student membership so that both full-time and part-time students would be eligible to apply. The proposed changes now explain how potential student members can establish their status as current students (for example, by submitting transcripts). The current bylaws aren’t clear about the definition of “student,” which has led to an increase in the number of members claiming student status. The proposed changes clarify this issue.
Retention of the Contested Slate
In recent years, for various reasons, fewer members have been willing to stand for election to national office in AIHA. This is similar to what many of our local sections experience when electing new officers. In response to this trend, the Board of Directors originally proposed eliminating contested elections for the offices of vice president, secretary-elect, and treasurer-elect. Contested elections for director positions would continue as before. Several associations similar to AIHA have adopted such a process, as have many of our local sections. However, a few members expressed concerns regarding this change. Therefore, the proposed changes to the bylaws will retain the current contested, two-candidate slate for AIHA offices. The Board will continue to review its nominating process. As a first step in addressing this issue, the Board is modifying the composition of the Nominating Committee (populating it through an open-call process to increase representation reflective of the broader membership), as well as enhancing the transparency of the overall nominations process. A new board nominations policy and an updated diversity and inclusion policy are being developed, both of which are referenced in the bylaws.
A Modern Governing Document
Other proposed changes are intended to modernize the bylaws and to accurately reflect current association practices. For example, in recognition of the change in title for the leadership of the AIHA staff, references to “Executive Director” would be removed and replaced with “Chief Executive Officer.” Much of the language related to the activities of the Academy of Industrial Hygiene would be removed to reflect the dissolution of the Council for the Academy several years ago. However, the Academy of Industrial Hygiene will continue exist. All CIHs will continue to be considered Diplomates of the Academy of Industrial Hygiene.
There’s Still Time for Feedback
The Board has been considering proposed bylaws changes for several months and has engaged members throughout the association to learn what they think of the proposal. The current proposed changes reflect what the Board believes to be in the best interests of AIHA based on the feedback it has received by numerous individuals. But if you haven’t shared your thoughts, you still have time to let us know what you think: AIHA recently opened a comment period on the proposed changes from June 1 through July 1. I encourage you to review the documents on the AIHA website and to send your thoughts about the proposed changes to Elsa Greer, AIHA’s administrative assistant.
In July, AIHA will submit the proposed bylaws changes to a vote of the membership. The vote will be conducted via electronic ballot. To take effect, the changes must be approved by two-thirds of voting members. And if you have any questions about the bylaws changes in particular or AIHA in general, please don’t hesitate to email me or AIHA’s CEO, Larry Sloan.