Author Topic: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers  (Read 8815 times)

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Offline Darkerlight

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Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« on: September 05, 2007, 08:31:11 pm »
It will be open to the public to attend, although only staff for Kumoricon 2007 can vote.

I thought that being an attendee or volunteer gave voting rights since it is a membership now and not just an admission. Has this changed?
There are two classes of membership; voting, and non-voting. Staff are voting, and members are non-voting.

Where do volunteers fall then? It seems unfair that they would not be able to vote on the staff that they're volunteering for.

[Admin: Split from http://www.kumoricon.org/forums/index.php?topic=2090.0 to allow the volunteer voting discussion to continue.]
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007, 01:51:38 am by JeffT »
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Offline woodsmn

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Re: Welcome to Less Confusion
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2007, 08:32:46 pm »
It will be open to the public to attend, although only staff for Kumoricon 2007 can vote.

I thought that being an attendee or volunteer gave voting rights since it is a membership now and not just an admission. Has this changed?
There are two classes of membership; voting, and non-voting. Staff are voting, and members are non-voting.

Where do volunteers fall then? It seems unfair that they would not be able to vote on the staff that they're volunteering for.

And what about the honorary staff members? I saw a few of them floating around near the end of the con, and I must say that I'm quite curious now.
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Offline TomtheFanboy

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Re: Welcome to Less Confusion
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2007, 08:34:00 pm »
Th volunteer benefit of "Honorary Staff" had certain rights and abilities that were argued over amongst the staff and through disagreement (and in the instance of the Kumorikash, and incompetence) several benefits were lost. The Kumorikash was never printed because of a lack of paper, I used a strong word in reference to it but  I cannot lay the blame on any one person so none of you should either.

Votes for volunteers who had put in over 25 hours of work (or maybe it was 20) was still contested last I heard. I suggest that you show up at the elections anyway, even if it turns out that you can't vote. We are currently a convention where your voice can still be heard in a non-voting capacity even if you are denied a vote.

Final note: before anyone starts attacking staff or executives about the voting issue, please remember that there is a business side to the convention and the votes must be treated as they would when choosing a CEO or other important business position in a company. With the upmost care and seriousness.
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Offline JeffT

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Re: Welcome to Less Confusion
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2007, 08:36:04 pm »
Where do volunteers fall then? It seems unfair that they would not be able to vote on the staff that they're volunteering for.
Volunteers are not staff; they are still considered in the non-voting class (attendees). The main differentiation between staff and volunteers is that staff sign up for a specific area of responsibility which they are obligated to fulfill, while volunteers have more freedom and can basically say no to any job or hours that they haven't already committed to.
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Offline Darkerlight

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Re: Welcome to Less Confusion
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2007, 01:44:47 am »
Where do volunteers fall then? It seems unfair that they would not be able to vote on the staff that they're volunteering for.
Volunteers are not staff; they are still considered in the non-voting class (attendees). The main differentiation between staff and volunteers is that staff sign up for a specific area of responsibility which they are obligated to fulfill, while volunteers have more freedom and can basically say no to any job or hours that they haven't already committed to.

Staff can say no to any job they aren't committed to as well, hell some of them said no to jobs they were already committed to. We're still an all volenteer staff, if the volenteers do the same work then why shouldn't they get the same votes? There are some volenteers that put in more hours than their staff conterparts.

I think that this tangent should be moved to another part of the forums, looks like we've diverged from the orginal topic but I believe this needs further discussion.

[Admin: Split has been done, continue discussion.]
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007, 01:52:07 am by JeffT »
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Offline MichaelEvans

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2007, 02:03:10 am »
I personally am split on this.  I do think that anyone putting in significant time should receive recognition, and if possible, some kind of corollary benefit for it.  However I have not been a part of this long enough to know the depth of responsibilities that go with voting.  I am for an official position of Honorary Staff, which would at least carry visual recognition of that status (Not the standard badge/lanyard/etc).  Though the precise qualifications, responsibilities and benefits associated with the position are another area that is beyond my experience; I do believe that they should exist and be clarified.  I would however suggest that establishing the position's existence, and then defining exactly what each of those are, be separated.  I imagine most will agree that such a position would be a good thing, but that anything beyond that will vary in unforeseen ways.
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Offline Darkerlight

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2007, 02:20:42 am »
I agree that it should be well defined. To give you a general idea though, voting was open to the public last year and before that, it is this current year that the voting rights have changed. It was my understanding that this was to prevent someone from say showing up with a crowd of friends and thowing the election. We wanted everyone voting to CARE about what they were voting for, to have a vested intrest in it. A volenteer working enough hours has obviously proven they both care and have a vested intrest in what happens to the con or they would never had worked that long in an event they paid to go to. Kumoricon is like a business but it is a volenteer run business. I think we're beinging to lose site of that.
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Offline JeffT

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2007, 03:15:41 am »
I agree that it should be well defined. To give you a general idea though, voting was open to the public last year and before that, it is this current year that the voting rights have changed. It was my understanding that this was to prevent someone from say showing up with a crowd of friends and thowing the election. We wanted everyone voting to CARE about what they were voting for, to have a vested intrest in it. A volenteer working enough hours has obviously proven they both care and have a vested intrest in what happens to the con or they would never had worked that long in an event they paid to go to. Kumoricon is like a business but it is a volenteer run business. I think we're beinging to lose site of that.
To clarify, in the previous elections that occurred (held in 2006 to elect the 2007 officers), voting was only open to staff. It was in the 2005 elections to elect the 2006 officers where voting was open to the public. I'm just clarifying by stating the dates.

Some benefits, including voting, are reserved for staff because there needs to be a distinction between staff and volunteers. "Volunteer" status can indicate as little work as one hour (or less) and although there is nothing wrong with only volunteering for an hour, it doesn't meet the bar that is set for staff. Volunteers don't even always register officially as volunteers and they also don't sign the policies document that applies to staff. In addition to having a distinction in the benefits, we want to preserve the value of the elections process as a whole by making sure that those with a say have invested a certain amount of personal effort and care in the organization.

I agree that voting cannot be open to the public; there is a huge risk of a hostile takeover. But if we allowed all attendees to vote, this risk is still the same. Observe that in elections held in 2005 for 2006 officers, there was not a huge additional turnout of attendees even though they were eligible to vote. However, the possibility of a hostile takeover remains the same because there is a pool of thousands of people who could potentially turn out to affect the vote.

It is not the case that we want to discount the opinions of volunteers, attendees, and the general public. But the elections process is a part of the checks and balances that ensure that the organization remains stable for the long term, yet also ensures that the opinions of the membership are represented. Part of this is assigning greater weight to the opinions of those who have invested much more in the organization, and who are more knowledgeable about its needs. If we give voting rights to a large body of people who would not actually be likely to exercise those rights by voting, then there is a significant risk of a result occurring that is contrary to the actual opinion of the membership, or that is based on uninformed opinion.

Regarding the specific issue of whether honorary staff should be allowed to vote (which means, to become staff members officially); I am undecided at the moment. My comments apply to the distinction between staff and volunteers in general.
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Offline MichaelEvans

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2007, 03:38:11 am »
I think it might also depend on exactly what the qualification for Honorary Staff is.  With a title like that, I'd hope that they are surpassing a high enough bar for the term to carry it's logical meeting.  Maybe voting for honorary staff could count if they had passed a secondary threshold.  Yet after thinking I have to wonder.  What would the difference between Honorary Staff and (real) Staff be?  Should they not instead be promoted to a full staff position and responsibility in light of their commitment?
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Offline Darkerlight

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2007, 06:13:43 am »
To clarify as well, I've been using Vallie's definition of honorary staff volenteers: At 20 hours, you've hit Honorary Staff status. I see no difference in the quality of commitment between them and full staff.
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Offline RoamingGnome

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2007, 07:26:43 am »
I really don't know about wether or not volunteers with a certain amount of hours getting voting rights.  I do think though depending on how many hours they work that they should get a discount on getting into the con.  Even up to getting in free if they work more than a certain amount of hours.  I know for instance for the San Diego Comic Con that is the way they work it.

Offline Crystal

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2007, 09:43:21 am »
For the clarity of this discussion, may I ask if anyone has hard data about how many people earned the title of honorary staff and how many hours they ACTUALLY volunteered?

The minimum is 20 hours, but I know some people who fullfilled their 20 hours months before the convention and continued to volunteer above and beyond any level of compensation offered by con. They earned their passes and then worked the entire weekend.

Setting a minimum hour requirement that volunteers could meet and become voting members gives them another level of real compensation that does not cost the Con anything. Also, once a person puts that much work in, they are just as personally and emotionally invested in the best intrest of the Con as regular staff.

Thats my two cents.

Offline superjaz

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2007, 10:36:12 am »
If we give voting rights to a large body of people who would not actually be likely to exercise those rights by voting, then there is a significant risk of a result occurring that is contrary to the actual opinion of the membership, or that is based on uninformed opinion.

to think in regards to the volunteers who made it to honary staff, there weren't that  all that many for one main reason, they became staff after a certain point, it really drained the amount volunteers this year (not that its bad this happend but it did mean less floaters able to fill in here and there)

leads to another question why should volunteers vote? when the positions beiging run for dont directly affect them, or does it? yes it does why?
(feel free to corect me if i get somthing wrong)
 as i learned the opps director heads up 3 catagories, things vital to k-con(each that have there own managers and what not)   
1 yojimbo
2 registraion
3 volunteers
the first 2 are staffed and thus they get to vote and have their opinions heard

 vonlunteers opinions are most likely going to get over looked, and as everyone knows there are some changes needed to the way volunteers are handled this year that would make things run smoother for next year

my personal opinion is that at least, honorary staff get to vote(and this is not saying if your volunteer you dont deserve to, or an atendee you dont dersever to please no kill me)) but we've put in the hours and seen how things went on and gone to meetings, seen the good n da bad,  what works what dont
vallie the volunteer manager nows who was honorary staff before con, it was impossible to keeo track of every ones hours during con
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Offline Rathany

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2007, 10:43:48 am »
I don't think that voting rights is the most vital aspect of rights for honorary-staff.  From discussions I've had, my impression was that Yojimbo and other Staff did not realize that these people who wanted snacks from the con suite, or who were trying to get stuff done behind the scenes were not regular attendees.  Lack of recogition during the con made their jobs harder.  

Also, it is my understanding that some volunteers would be staff, but they are not yet 18.  When I approached Kumoricon wanting to be staff, I was encouraged to be a volunteer instead, and was told that I would have MORE benefits as a volunteer than as staff.  (But I went the staff route anyway)

People who put in three or four 12 hours days at the con should not have to wait in line at the dealer's room or if they want to get into an event and should be able to grab food.  Fortunitly, food was brought around to us, which was awesome.  Actually, that was beyond awesome.  

I am not saying that voting rights are not important and should not be taken seriously, I just think that respect from other staff and access to food is more important.  To do this it's going to be important that we can clearly, visually distinguish honorary staff.  
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Offline Hawkeye

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2007, 03:35:11 pm »
Part of the reason we had a hard time (I speak as a yojimbo) recognizing who was honorary staff and who wasn't is because we were given no way to clearly identify them, whether it be a list of badge names, different badges, special stickers, or something.  I fully agree that honorary staff members should be given voting rights, unfortunately the execs and founding Altonimbus members may not agree with me.  Even though it may seem like some positions do not directly affect our volunteers, I beg to differ because volunteers, much like yojimbo, work for ALL departments depending on where they're stationed at the current time.  Thus they have the right to pick the people they're working for.  For example, volunteers working at the reg desk are under ops, but volunteers assisting in panels are under programming, volunteers working with Street Team are under publicity, volunteers being gophers for our guests are under relations.  So it does directly affect them whether we older staffers take the time to think about that or not.  The one disadvantage to being staff is that if we refuse to take on a job given to us by our superiors is that we face the risk of having our badges pulled and/or being redlisted for the following year depending on the situation, plus as staff if we refuse it could potentially throw the con into chaos as what almost happened when Sean Larson stepped down as relations director.  I may be off topic somewhat, but hopefully this will give people some food for thought.
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Offline JeffT

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2007, 05:47:53 pm »
If we give voting rights to a large body of people who would not actually be likely to exercise those rights by voting, then there is a significant risk of a result occurring that is contrary to the actual opinion of the membership, or that is based on uninformed opinion.

to think in regards to the volunteers who made it to honary staff, there weren't that  all that many for one main reason, they became staff after a certain point, it really drained the amount volunteers this year (not that its bad this happend but it did mean less floaters able to fill in here and there)
In the text from my post you quoted, the "large body" I was referring to was all attendees, not volunteers or honorary staff.
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Offline TomtheFanboy

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2007, 11:52:41 am »
OK, for a volunteer to be an "honorary staff" member they have to work for 20 hours on things purely for the convention. This work can be done before hand with street team or other departments (though at the volunteer level they'll likely be doing street team duties).

For a Staff member to retain their status the minimum number of hours they must work at the convention is 16, correct? We all know that most staff do a lot of work before the convention but most don't have to. In order to be a member of staff and thus get a vote, you need to pay your ten dollars to register for the convention, be approved as a staff member by one of the Department Directors. Then once the convention arrives you can spend 8 hours on Friday (at set up), and then 4 hours Monday night cleaning up, and then 4 hours on Tuesday morning loading stuff into a truck. You will then be qualified for a vote in the next election, a possible hotel discount (if the contract has enough rooms to include people at your level of the staff hiearchy), access to the ConSuite for snacks and beverages, and the ability to navigate the restricted areas of the convention with ease.

There are a variety of staff perks beyond the ones listed but they are not official perks until you get to the Director level in the hiearchy and that is beyond the scope of this discussion.

It would be simple enough to look at the basic hours the top level volunteers put in and then provide the benefits at the convention and then re-examine the work done by each volunteer afterwards to reward the responsible and capable among the volunteers a full vote at the elections. It would be on a case by case basis and would be easy to write into the bylaws (the problems with the bylaws and their ever-pending ratification notwithstanding). You could set a required number of staff signatures to verify the work done by a volunteer, the signature of the Volunteer Manger, and the signature of a Board Member (Directors, Founders, or Executives) to give the official approval specifically for them to vote. That satisfies the need to reduce the risk of hostile takeover and helps reduce the nepotism that's been lurking in the wings the last couple years.

From the last ratified version of the bylaws I read, the electoral body was not well defined at all really and it needs to be ratified anyway. Why not go the extra mile and work out an official policy to give a real reward to the volunteers who have earned it?

There are two reasons I feel this is a very important issue.

The first is that many of the volunteer benefits promised to the volunteers and APPROVED by the board were not delivered. The was no Kumorikash this year. There was not an actual staff dinner (there was some pizza brought it but I don't dare to call that a delivery on the promise).
Honorary Staff Volunteers were allowed access to the con suite and I am glad of that. Did they get the T-shirts?(yes)

The second is that non-staff WERE allowed to vote at lasst years election. If there had been a real election then perhaps someone would have noticed. The 2007 election was a joke and the staff had actually agreed with who would be in what position beforehand. The only reason I don't expect that to happen this year is that there are people with very different ideas running against each other and I doubt that many of them can be placated with promises of policy changes and event scheduling. Now more than ever we need more people voting and if we can't open the elections to the public, we should at least allow the people who did the work to have a voice.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2007, 12:18:51 pm by TomtheFanboy »
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Offline superjaz

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2007, 12:16:12 pm »
Honorary Staff Volunteers were allowed access to the con suite and I am glad of that. Did they get the T-shirts?
we got shirts, was bit of a debate first on which shirt we got the staff shirt or the regular atendee shirt, eventualy the powers that be decided we got staff shirts,
the con sweet acess was cool, little intimadating cuz its like "is it okay to take somthing? really? cuz i really dont need the soda.." i dont think i relaxed and sat down till guspasho told me to when i went up after manning the info desk for hours, then after another bout of info desk i was taking brownie her dinner and she said "your not staff get some sleep!" i think i was working to hard if over worked staff aretelling me to sleep

i kinda scarred her or smthing later when i as sorting the chocolates of the world, she said it was okay to have some as long as i mixed them up again
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Offline Hawkeye

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2007, 10:17:02 pm »
I think Tom summed up the rest of what I may have had to say on this.  Part of the reason I feel so strongly about treating our volunteers right from the beginning is because half of them turn into our staffers and we don't want to screw that up.
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Offline valliegirl

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2007, 10:45:20 am »
Sorry it's taken so long for me to speak to this.  I'd been without a computer the better part of a week and was working overtime at work all week, so I'm just now catching up on everything on the forums. 

I would love for volunteers who have worked over a certain amount of hours to have voting rights.  However, what I want and what current policy will allow for me to offer the volunteers are two separate things.

"Honorary Staff" isn't an official title or position.  In fact, at this point, I would call the entire volunteer incentive program unofficial.  Here's why...

When I took the position of volunteer coordinator, I did it specifically to try to find a way to get the volunteers recognized for the amount of work they do and give them some sort of thank you for the fact that they PAY us to work for us.  For those that put in way over 24 hours, I want for them to be compensated for the fact that they're doing just as much as a staff member is required to do.

I sat down, laid out the plan.  By February, it was finalized, and I got approval for it from my director.  I thought that made it official.

By May, a few volunteers had put in over 20 hours worth of work.  In theory, according to my design, this would make them an honorary staff member and basically get them all the benefits a staff member would have, plus something to make up for the fact that they paid more than the staff member to do that amount of work. 

When I got down to the logistics of getting these people recognized, I came across a huge road block.  Apparently, having director's approval for the things I was offering wasn't enough.  I had to have approval from the entire board, especially when it came to voting rights.  This was not in any way made clear to me before May. 

Also, there are people that don't believe that hours put in before the convention should count as much as hours put in at the convention.  There are people who believe that pre-con hours should count at a fraction, still as of this point undetermined, of the hours put in at con.

So after people had been working towards the goal for three months and had made the goal I'd set, I was being told that I couldn't offer what had already been approved and that the amount of hours I was asking people to put in should be two or three times more than it is, my heart wasn't in it anymore.  And on top of it, I had my time being split between my actual job that pays me, my work as registration manager, and my work as volunteer coordinator.  And after May, helping the volunteers got pushed to the back burner, and I'm really sorry.  You guys deserved better than that.

Other issues that need to be addressed in the coming year:  it's really really difficult to accurately state at con how much work the volunteers do.  I had quite a few people working 12 hours per day but couldn't get away from what they were doing to let me know what they'd been roped into.  I had people wander up and just start helping with something.  I even had people that weren't even registered try to come in and help and I had to send them back to door reg to actually pay for a ticket.  I tried implementing at con a sign up sheet for people to tell me where they were and when.  And between the fact that all of those sheets disappeared and that people weren't signing them...   Fail.  We have to come up with a better system next year.

Next issue....  Upgrades.  I can't tell you how many people upgraded from volunteer to staff.  Quite a few people actually PAID ATTENDEE PRICE and then went and signed their weekend away to the con as a staff member.  We don't give refunds for the difference between staff price and attendee price.  It had been my plan to give these individuals all the benefits of a volunteer on top of the benefits they get as a staff member. 

Another issue, and one we all seriously need to work on, is staff perception of the volunteers and of their rights.  Not all, but many staff members, didn't like the volunteer incentives because they felt staff members weren't getting enough benefits.  But those staff members do not keep in mind that a) they get discounted admission, b) they get discounted room price, and c) they get access to all the parties and voting rights and everything from the get go.  Volunteers have to work for what they get.  And even then, they don't get enough respect from us.  I'm not just talking about recognization from one person or one group...  There's a lot of people in general staff and in the hierarchy that I've heard making this complaint.  Making volunteers more visible so we can pick them out of the crowd is only a small fraction of it...  Attitudes need to be adjusted.  Maybe instead of taking away volunteer benefits so that staff can feel better about themselves, we should be making sure that staff know they're appreciated as well, and then everyone would win, ne?

I will say that I really really really appreciate Meg and Rian.  I know for a fact that they both care about volunteers and their treatment.  They were both really involved with helping me design these incentives.  They did what they could to make volunteers feel included this year.  They invited volunteers up to con suite and to the after party, which is pretty awesome. 

There's plenty of other staffers that are very good to the volunteers, and I don't want people to think that I'm saying ALL staff members don't want volunteers to have benefits, but there are obviously some out there with this perception.  And I'm not going to name names, because I want to keep the peace, but some I've overheard talking about it and some have come right out and said it to me directly.  Those people know who they are. 

I do take full responsibility for the failure this year with the incentives, I apologize to each and every one of the volunteers.  More really could have and should have been done on my part.  I am working on a way to make sure you all get something for the time you put it, but that is still to be determined.  Once the elections are settled and we have a new volunteer coordinator in place, I will be giving all of the information I have regarding the volunteers from 07, and everyone who has already signed up for 08.  And we can work towards making things better for everyone involved in 08.

Oh and just to give you a list of everyone that I know put in 20 or more hours:

Rachael Kirkland
Jasmine Lady
Patrick King
Morgan Woods
Chris Sept
Chris Merritt
Derek Hayes
Wendy Gleason

edit:  I will note that each of these people did a ton of work for us at con, and almost all reached 20 hours before con even started.

If you put in over 20 hours at con as a volunteer, and I didn't note you, please email me so that I can rectify that error.  I want everyone to be accounted for.  valliegirl@gmail.com
« Last Edit: September 09, 2007, 05:44:38 pm by valliegirl »
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Offline valliegirl

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2007, 11:05:43 am »
For a Staff member to retain their status the minimum number of hours they must work at the convention is 16, correct?

.......

The first is that many of the volunteer benefits promised to the volunteers and APPROVED by the board were not delivered. The was no Kumorikash this year. There was not an actual staff dinner (there was some pizza brought it but I don't dare to call that a delivery on the promise).
Honorary Staff Volunteers were allowed access to the con suite and I am glad of that. Did they get the T-shirts?(yes)


24 hours minimum work required for staff members during con. 

The volunteer benefits weren't approved by the board, and that's the problem.  I didn't find out until may that anyone other than the ops director needed to approve and ratify any of it.  It was approved by Brownie.  And then it was announced officially.  And no one said boo about it until the volunteers actually worked the hours and I tried to get them recognized for it.

And then I was being told that pre-con hours don't count as much as at con hours, so my incentive plan goals needed to be multiplied by two or three.  So even if it got "approved" a person had to work maybe 60 hours pre con to get recognized.

What I would suggest, all of you who would like yourselves heard, come to the elections anyway, whether they let you vote or not.  That way you can at least talk to the nominees about their plans for the next year. 

Some volunteers got shirts, but I don't think all of them did. 
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Offline guspasho

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Re: Welcome to Less Confusion
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2007, 02:07:51 pm »
Staff can say no to any job they aren't committed to as well, hell some of them said no to jobs they were already committed to. We're still an all volenteer staff, if the volenteers do the same work then why shouldn't they get the same votes? There are some volenteers that put in more hours than their staff conterparts.

I want to address this because it cuts to the heart of the discussion - what is the distinction between staff and volunteers? I don't think this question has been properly addressed. Staff can NOT simply say no to any job they do not want to do. The problem is that our current system leaves the enforcement of this entirely up to the department directors who have only very rarely been willing to fire a staffer. We are all volunteer staff in that we are all unpaid, but when you sign up to be staff you agree to perform all duties related to your position. Volunteers face no such agreement, they negotiate their jobs individually and they suffer no consequences if they fail to fulfill any commitment. The problem is that staff also seem to suffer no consequences either.

So how would you recommend we divide the staff and the volunteers? If we retain the same distinction, how can we better enforce it among the staff? Should someone other than the director have the power to fire a staffer? And if so, then who? It's a very difficult decision that a typical person would prefer to avoid than confront.
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Offline guspasho

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2007, 02:32:27 pm »
One more real easy thing to address. The reason we want to weigh at-con volunteer hours more heavily is because they are needed so much more, and the urgency is always immediate. Vallie can tell you how grateful she is of the volunteers we had during Kumoricon.

As for Vallie not knowing about the voting rights, well, that is something that needs to be done in accordance with our bylaws, which of course have not been made public FOR A WHOLE YEAR.

It's about time we corrected that last point. So the bylaws that were voted on at the last elections meeting and are the operational ones (not draft revisions or whatever) will be made physically available at the elections meeting for all to read, and made available online as soon as I can get to it.
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Offline valliegirl

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2007, 05:40:25 pm »
I want to address this because it cuts to the heart of the discussion - what is the distinction between staff and volunteers? I don't think this question has been properly addressed. Staff can NOT simply say no to any job they do not want to do. The problem is that our current system leaves the enforcement of this entirely up to the department directors who have only very rarely been willing to fire a staffer. We are all volunteer staff in that we are all unpaid, but when you sign up to be staff you agree to perform all duties related to your position. Volunteers face no such agreement, they negotiate their jobs individually and they suffer no consequences if they fail to fulfill any commitment. The problem is that staff also seem to suffer no consequences either.

So how would you recommend we divide the staff and the volunteers? If we retain the same distinction, how can we better enforce it among the staff? Should someone other than the director have the power to fire a staffer? And if so, then who? It's a very difficult decision that a typical person would prefer to avoid than confront.

Link to the Org Chart:
http://kumoricon.org/?page_id=86

These are our staff positions.  Each and every one of these positions should be considered full year positions.  I think they should be filled in November and every member of staff should be committed to fulfilling their duties the entire year from when they accept the position until someone else is appointed the position the following year.  Those who have jobs that only really apply to con weekend should be involved with the promotional activities during the year, and "volunteer" jobs like swag bag stuffing and mailing out badges.  Those who have jobs that are mainly only active during the year before the con should pull 24 hours during con helping with Yojimbo, Reg, Info Desk, etc. 

Staff members should have consequences for not fulfilling their obligations. 

Who should be responsible for keeping track of the staff members and making sure that obligations are being fulfilled? 

I would think off the top of my head that would be the job of the director in charge of that staff member.  There used to be a position of Personnel Director which was eaten by the position of Secretary.  The Secretary keeps file of all of the registrations of the staff, but do they have any responsibility in the termination of a staff member, whether direct or indirect?

Also, for those people who sign up and then go AWOL at time of con, we already have a system of dealing with these people.  It's called the Red List.  It's a matter of actually putting people on the list that shouldn't be staff in the future, keeping it updated, and checking it against those registering as staff so that we're not having people slip through that we know won't do the work.  Perhaps this would also be the job of Personnel Director/Secretary. 

The hugest imperfection in the system is lack of enforcement.  And if someone doesn't want, or knows they cannot fulfill, the responsibilities involved with being a director, they need to decline the nomination.  And maybe, just maybe, we should nominate people that we believe will do a good job instead of the joke nominations that seem to come up year to year. 

One more real easy thing to address. The reason we want to weigh at-con volunteer hours more heavily is because they are needed so much more, and the urgency is always immediate. Vallie can tell you how grateful she is of the volunteers we had during Kumoricon.

As for Vallie not knowing about the voting rights, well, that is something that needs to be done in accordance with our bylaws, which of course have not been made public FOR A WHOLE YEAR.

It's about time we corrected that last point. So the bylaws that were voted on at the last elections meeting and are the operational ones (not draft revisions or whatever) will be made physically available at the elections meeting for all to read, and made available online as soon as I can get to it.

I am absolutely thankful to all the volunteers that help us out....  but not just at con but pre-con as well.

We finished bag stuffing of over 3000 bags in less than 8 hours.  I was told we'd need an entire day to get through it.  We started at two pm and were finished around 8 or 9pm.  We never ran out of bags at con.  We had hundreds of bags left over.  For those who remember previous years where we were still stuffing bags on Saturday morning, this is HUGE to me. 

Envelope stuffings!  If I had to do this work myself, I wouldn't have survived.  There were approximately 4 meet ups during the year.

And then all the work done in promoting between street team and going and manning booths at other events... that is what gets us our turn out!  We had a growth of 25% this year, and I want to keep up this trend. 

At con hours are huge because we know there's other stuff the volunteers could be doing and they choose to help us instead.  But I don't want for that to take away from how important pre-con work is to us as well. 
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Offline superjaz

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2007, 07:12:22 pm »
and thing is i don't think chris and i missed a pre-con volunteer opportunity (besideds sakura con and chibichibi con) and we had 31 hours not including the friday before con at which i spent the day organizing and running the info desk and handling whatever gliches that came up.
it would be near inpossible to meet 60 hours of volunteering before con, i know thats the point because people want at con vounteer hours not pre con, if so just say so,
thing is the pre con hours are as vallie said vital for the con and its a great way for the staff to start getting to know the volunters

i am just just worried that if we put somthing up that says at con hours are wourth more, we are going to lose our volunters because who's going to want to spend 8 hours stuffing bags if its counted as 4 its like saying our help is worth less, and even tho most people want to just help out, and dont care about the perks,  its like a small slap in the face, your help isnt as good.  I would be worried that people would stop putting in the pre con hours just on the principle of it,  and we need our pre con volunteers

I'll say this, next years volunteer manager has their work cut out for them .....  o.o
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Offline guspasho

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2007, 09:05:33 pm »
The last two posts highlight problems that could easily be solved hand in hand. Other than Vallie, I am guessing that relatively few staffers gave the volunteers any pre-con opportunities. Instead, we have grunt-level staffers and things like street team members. These positions could be removed from the charts and rolled into volunteer opportunities instead. That would be a LOT for our volunteer manager to take on and manage.
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Offline valliegirl

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2007, 10:40:07 pm »
The last two posts highlight problems that could easily be solved hand in hand. Other than Vallie, I am guessing that relatively few staffers gave the volunteers any pre-con opportunities. Instead, we have grunt-level staffers and things like street team members. These positions could be removed from the charts and rolled into volunteer opportunities instead. That would be a LOT for our volunteer manager to take on and manage.

Volunteers did a lot of work with street team as well, however there was also a debate on how to count street team drops.  In the end, I settled on counting each street team drop as 15 minutes/ 4=1 hour of work.  Members of Pocky Club were really instrumental with street team this year, and outside of Tom most people in Pocky Club were attendee volunteers. 

Also on a publicity aspect, we have the amount of hours put in at booths.  There was the booth at the Asian festival in Eugene that Rachael manned, as well as the booth as Sakura con.  Up at Chibi Chibi con, I was with Rodney and Kry.  And at the Uwajimaya Festival in April, we had quite a few volunteers show up in the pouring rain and cold like Jaz and Chris and Patrick. 

And I think the swag bag stuff would also qualify under publicity, and they got the swag to stuff.

So there was a lot of volunteer pre-con stuff with publicity.

And then there was the Reg stuff that I called people out for on 4 separate occasions.  That's about it for Ops though.

The only thing Programming really had before con was Mini-con but that was mostly manned by staff while volunteers took care of stuffing envelopes.  If we do Mini-cons again and we separate them from other volunteer activities, that could be another way for volunteers to get pre-con hours.

I don't know of anything that Relations needed pre-con.

I do think that street team can be done on a more volunteer basis.  I think we should focus on guiding the people who sign up as "staff grunt" to have a more particular position...  one we'd be dragging them into doing anyway, such as reg or yojimbo... etc. 

BTW, to those organizing cat ear booths...  if you want more people involved with making cat ears next year we really need people who know how to make cat ears before con, so maybe setting up some training sessions for those interested would be good.  I know you guys were short staffed and I would have sent more people your way if anyone I came across even knew how to do cat ears.  Heck, I would have manned it myself if I'd had any clue of what to do with it. 
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Offline Darkerlight

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2007, 04:06:19 pm »
Staff can say no to any job they aren't committed to as well, hell some of them said no to jobs they were already committed to. We're still an all volenteer staff, if the volenteers do the same work then why shouldn't they get the same votes? There are some volenteers that put in more hours than their staff conterparts.

I want to address this because it cuts to the heart of the discussion - what is the distinction between staff and volunteers? I don't think this question has been properly addressed. Staff can NOT simply say no to any job they do not want to do. The problem is that our current system leaves the enforcement of this entirely up to the department directors who have only very rarely been willing to fire a staffer. We are all volunteer staff in that we are all unpaid, but when you sign up to be staff you agree to perform all duties related to your position. Volunteers face no such agreement, they negotiate their jobs individually and they suffer no consequences if they fail to fulfill any commitment. The problem is that staff also seem to suffer no consequences either.

So how would you recommend we divide the staff and the volunteers? If we retain the same distinction, how can we better enforce it among the staff? Should someone other than the director have the power to fire a staffer? And if so, then who? It's a very difficult decision that a typical person would prefer to avoid than confront.
Just a little aside for all of this.

The reason I brought this up was NOT to create a more definitive wall between volunteer and staff, it was about breaking down the wall thats being formed and finding a more involved common ground. With both staff and volunteers life happens, stuff happens, and we need to say no sometimes, have said no, can and should say no. Staffers may not turn down duties from the department they are committed to but they can say no to duties they are not committed to especially if it interferes with their own duties. For both parties "No" has consequences but it's still our right and it still happens. If staff says no too many times they go on the red list or they get fired, if volunteers say no too many times they do too. Maybe that hasn't happened before as often as it should have but that isn't the issue here. This isn't about dividing, it's about rejoining.

Both staff and volunteer feel the strain of what happens at the con, both know what it's like, both feel unappreciated at times and used. We both pay to work at a convention we love not for a staffers discount, not for a volunteer pin, not for a discounted room. These things didn't always exist and there's no reason to believe that they always will... How much or who got what isn't as important as why. It's about both sides trying to understand and appreciate each other again.

My point is that we shouldn't be building this line but breaking it apart. We have no "runner" staff, no department to fill other departments random gaps and needs, and no under eighteener that can legally be staff, so we have volunteers. In some ways they have more freedom, in some ways they have less. We all agree that things need to change for both staff and volunteers... every year things need changing, it's part of why we have a voting body, isn't it? Take it to the next logical step.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2007, 04:16:38 pm by Darkerlight »
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Offline guspasho

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2007, 04:27:46 pm »
Ok, so I'm really confused as to what everyone is asking for? Should we do away with staff altogether? Should we just expect the directors to do everything in their department unless they can find a volunteer to delegate the task to? Should we do away with putting anyone's name in the con guide for their work, or any sort of system that permits us to reach each other and know who does what?

I am really confused, because that sounds like what you're asking for, and that sounds like chaos and absolutely an impossible system to run a con with.
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Offline valliegirl

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2007, 05:09:04 pm »
Notes to what you've said Darkerlight... I thought pretty hard about what would happen if we either treated all staff as volunteers or treated all volunteers as staff.  The problem is there is a need for the division of duties on both sides.  The positions that are staff are those where a year round, or heavy commitment is necessary.  Take for example the Registration Manager position.  It's not only year round in the sense of sending out badges and answering to attendee inquiries about registrations, but at con you're pulling 14 hours a day easy with very little break in sight.  If I had just said, "Bye you guys, I busted my butt all year and now I'm going to opening ceremonies!"...  Forget it.  Can't happen.  But that's exactly what volunteers are allowed and should be allowed to do by the nature of the position.  If they wanted that commitment, they would have signed up to be staff (or should have at least).   And if a volunteer says no, there really isn't any sort of reprecussion.  There are quite a few people who signed up to be a volunteer but weren't available to work for us at any point.  That doesn't reflect badly on them because they get what they put into it (assuming there's benefits to give them).  And if a person doesn't put the time in they don't get the benefits for it.  Which was the point of "Honorary Staff Member Status".  I felt by the time a person reached those hours, they should have been considered having the same level of commitment to the job as those who are staff.  

Also anyone who works really hard as staff or volunteer, should be in some way compensated...  And I believe firmly still that no matter what a person's commitment is the the convention, if they're willing to bust their butts for the con, it shows they care about the con, and therefore should have a say in the directon the con moves in and who they'll be working for in the coming year.  And in that sense, I believe volunteers and staff should be equal, especially since it's the people that put in a ton of hours as a volunteer during this year that will become staff next year.  All of us should have a say in who we want to work for.  

I believe that in some ways you and I really agree but we're coming at it from different aspects.

If there was some way to just cut out the separation between staff and volunteer, I would be for it, but it would have to be done in a way that those in "staff positions" are still aware of the importance of their commitment before during and after con, and for those who would like less responsibility and more freedom during con can have that as well.  That was the point of the division to begin with, and I haven't seen yet a solution that allows someone to have it both ways.

Edited to answer gus:

Recap:
I'm not asking for chaos.  I see the point of the divisions and why they're there.  However, I think that people on both sides should be rewarded for the hard work they put in and those who are volunteers should be given similar benefits to staff depending on the amount of hours they put in.  Basically staff get their benefits from the get go for making the commitment to work hard, while volunteers earn their benefits by putting in the effort. 
This was the line I was going by when I designed the volunteer benefits.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2007, 05:24:50 pm by valliegirl »
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Offline guspasho

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2007, 05:21:44 pm »
Volunteers and staff should be equal... and what then is the motivation to become staff? Where is the incentive? How is the system you advocate any different than Darkerlight's system?
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Offline Darkerlight

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #31 on: September 11, 2007, 05:36:59 pm »
Ok, so I'm really confused as to what everyone is asking for? Should we do away with staff altogether? Should we just expect the directors to do everything in their department unless they can find a volunteer to delegate the task to? Should we do away with putting anyone's name in the con guide for their work, or any sort of system that permits us to reach each other and know who does what?

I am really confused, because that sounds like what you're asking for, and that sounds like chaos and absolutely an impossible system to run a con with.

In this thread the only thing I'm asking for is staff and volunteer to be considerate to each other and appreciate each other enough to allow them both to have an equal say in the vote. Volunteering enough time in or out of the con shows commitment, shows love for the con. They're not here to take us over and they deserve the right to decide not just on election votes but on any general staff votes, like program covers or mascots or any little or big thing that we decide is big enough or important enough for all staff to  vote on.

No, we're not equal but did you read the full paragraph or glance over it? I'm not proposing a "system" I'm proposing that we RESPECT each other and find a common ground.  We're becoming elitist, indifferent to each other and it needs to be recognized for the wall it is and stopped.

« Last Edit: September 11, 2007, 05:44:47 pm by Darkerlight »
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Offline valliegirl

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2007, 06:07:16 pm »
Gus, once again, let's look at the sort of benefits that staff get just right off the bat without anything more than commitment to do their jobs.
Discounted admission
Discounted hotel room
Access to special events like the parties and the staff retreat
Automatic access to at con perks like the Con Suite
Free T-shirts
Special Badges
And sometimes someone will randomly give us food.

The volunteer benefits were designed to give the volunteers some of those benefits based on the effort put in.  But they have to pay attendee price and then work up to a certain level.  I think that if a person clears the same amount of hours that is required by staff, then they should get at least the same respect that a staffer does.  They never get things like discounted admission or discounted hotel rooms, but some of the things I wanted to offer, such as increments of Kumoricash, were an effort to make up for that fact.

The point I want to make though, and have been trying to make is that I don't think voting rights is something we should make exclusive.  If a person works 70 hours as a volunteer, and they're going to sign up as staff next year, they should have a right to vote for who they want to work for. 

I'm not saying that ALL volunteers should have this, but those who bust their butts certainly should, especially since the majority of the WILL become staff in the next year, statistically. 

Also, let's put to rest a simple point right now.  The lure of benefits for volunteers DIDN'T KEEP ANYONE FROM REGISTERING AS STAFF.  I'm coming up with a list right now of all the people who registered as an attendee and still upgraded to staff before August 10th, which means we kind of owe them something back.  Plus, just look at the numbers from this year...  We had 120ish people sign up as staff and only about 30 people sign up as volunteers...  And a lot of the volunteers that worked over 20 hours for us this year have already told me that they're planning to reg as staff right away.

Volunteer benefits aren't keeping staff from registering.  If Staff are worried about their own benefits, then let's come up with something to make them feel even more appreciated.

Edited after additional thought:

Through my experience this year, I've found there is one thing that does keep people from upgrading from Volunteer to Staff...  reimbursement.  If a person pays 30 dollars for admission, and then finds out they're doing the amount of work required of staff and could have registered as staff for 10, but our policy is to not give refunds, then they're more likely to just stay a volunteer.  If you give people money back for upgrading from attendee to staff, or a Kumoricash equivalent for stuff in the vendors room, and have it all printed out ahead of time, you would have had at least 3 more staff members. 

If you do have some sort of policy for this, you might want to make it public, cause I don't know about it, and people keep asking me.

Edited for context:

When I use all caps, it's not cause I'm angry.

It's for emphasis, especially on points that I feel like I'm beating like a dead horse.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2007, 08:54:13 pm by valliegirl »
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Offline MichaelEvans

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #33 on: September 11, 2007, 06:14:25 pm »
Volunteers and staff should be equal... and what then is the motivation to become staff? Where is the incentive? How is the system you advocate any different than Darkerlight's system?

Wasn't the issue was that some volunteers are working at levels on par with staff?  The question is then what kind of recognition path should exist for them.  Probably the easiest solution would be some way of becoming staff through volunteering, but would any staff positions exist that match the position(s) they are working.  In that case, honorary staff, would be an official position for when the level and quality of work were up to par with staff level, but the candidate failed requirements for some reason beyond their control. (IE they're still too young, Or it's too late to print a new badge, etc.)

That would answer both the incentive to become staff, and the cases where that wouldn't be possible.  It would also be important to have this path clearly spelled out, and what kind of staff positions volunteers typically graduate to.

At least, this is how I see the current issue given all of the comments in this thread.
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Offline kylite

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #34 on: September 11, 2007, 09:17:01 pm »
alright heres my little view on things. now mind you this is from the view of a yojimbo.

now yojimbo do not do anything during the year before the con. some of them do help on street team, some of them do help with volunteer work, but for the most part we have a one a month training and call it good. then at the con we work and work....and work... I think sleep is in there somewhere but I didn't see it this year.

anywho, although we put alot of work in at the con, we don't do much outside the con but we still have voting rights.

Volunteers put in a huge amount of hours before AND during the con but are unable to vote in the meetings.

Now I understand that we don't want a mass chaos system where everyone votes but the issue here is that if you put in more then 25 hours of work you should have a right to vote for those your going to work for.

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Offline guspasho

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2007, 09:28:06 pm »
Once again, let's look at the sort of benefits that staff get just right off the bat without anything more than commitment to do their jobs.
Discounted admission
Discounted hotel room
Access to special events like the parties and the staff retreat
Automatic access to at con perks like the Con Suite
Free T-shirts

But what does a commitment to do their jobs entail, Vallie? Most of these benefits are provided to staff because of what they have committed to do at con, which is work during just about the entire event. As opposed to volunteers, staff are expected to attend the con, they can't NOT attend, hence they receive discounted admission. Staff are expected to work for as many hours as we need them, which is often the whole con, hence they receive a discounted hotel room, and access to the con suite to provide for the basic needs of our hardworking staff. And as for the rest of the benefits, including Con Suite, free t-shirts (and apparently free staff t-shirts that were reserved specifically for staff, not the honorary staff), volunteers already receive those benefits. You are talking about giving staff benefits to anyone who volunteers for 20 hours at con, but staff often work 20 hours per day! You are talking about giving staff benefits to anyone who volunteers for 40 hours during a year but staff sometimes work 40 hours per week, all year!

Quote
The volunteer benefits were designed to give the volunteers some of those benefits based on the effort put in.  But they have to pay attendee price and then work up to a certain level.  I think that if a person clears the same amount of hours that is required by staff, then they should get at least the same respect that a staffer does.  They never get things like discounted admission or discounted hotel rooms, but some of the things I wanted to offer, such as increments of Kumoricash, were an effort to make up for that fact.

Staff aren't just obligated to work a minimum number of hours, they have to work as many hours as their job requires. How many times do I have to explain this point? You say that volunteers don't receive enough respect compared to staff, but once volunteers meet your minimum hour requirement you seem to saying they do not have to do anything else, whereas staff are required to work the whole con. What kind of effect does that have on the amount of respect our staff receive when they are working the whole con and the volunteers only put in a minimum number of hours to get the same thing? As a staffer for which this convention has become a full-time job, I think that system would appear utterly unfair and demoralizing to me.

Take the example to its logical extreme. Everybody gets their volunteer hours in before con. Nobody works at con, or otherwise works until they hit their minimum number of hours, then they all quit. We already have a serious problem with our staff sticking around post-con to clean up the hotel, how much of a problem on Monday or even Sunday do you think that would create? We can count on anyone who is truly responsible to stick around and help out once they have met their required hours, but when it came to cleaning up the con, with staff obligations, that still only amounted to 5-6 people. Not to mention that the responsible ones who do help out the whole time are taking on the burden of all the people who have left to have fun or go home. How respectful is your proposal to them?

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The point I want to make though, and have been trying to make is that I don't think voting rights is something we should make exclusive.  If a person works 70 hours as a volunteer, and they're going to sign up as staff next year, they should have a right to vote for who they want to work for.

I'm not saying that ALL volunteers should have this, but those who bust they butts certainly should.

On the point of voting rights I must most vehemently disagree. As opposed to staff, volunteers are by definition not affiliated with the convention. They are under no obligation to adhere to the staff policies, obey the command structure, participate in planning meetings, or even work. They may perform some work, or adhere to the policies, etc, but they have not agreed to be held to that, and that is what makes staff staff, and why staff specifically, and no one else, are given the right to vote among the membership of Altonimbus Entertainment. Volunteers may bust their butts all they like, but until and unless they agree to be held to busting their butts, extending to them the right to vote would be undue them and extraordinarily unfair to those who do bust their butts.

Taken another way, the vote is not a reward. The right to vote should not be awarded to anyone who has worked a minimum number of hours and has no further obligation to contribute to the convention.

And I'll be the first to say it, there are staff who slack off, and who don't bust their butts, and who don't work during con. Those staff are not doing their jobs and they are getting undue benefits. The far more proper remedy to me would be holding those staff accountable, but not removing all accountability!

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Also, let's put to rest a simple point right now.  The lure of benefits for volunteers DIDN'T KEEP ANYONE FROM REGISTERING AS STAFF.  I'm coming up with a list right now of all the people who registered as an attendee and still upgraded to staff before August 10th, which means we kind of owe them something back.  Plus, just look at the numbers from this year...  We had 120ish people sign up as staff and only about 30 people sign up as volunteers...  And a lot of the volunteers that worked over 20 hours for us this year have already told me that they're planning to reg as staff right away.

Volunteer benefits didn't keep anyone from registering as staff? Was the intent to keep them from signing up as staff? Because when I hear from staffers that they were told specifically to go "volunteer" rather than staff because the perks are better, it sounds like someone sure intended to keep them from becoming staff!

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Volunteer benefits aren't keeping staff from registering.  If Staff are worried about their own benefits, then let's come up with something to make them feel even more appreciated.

I can agree with this, because right now the incredible increase in benefits has far outpaced and even exceeded the benefits we have extended to staff.

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Edited after additional thought:

Through my experience this year, I've found there is one thing that does keep people from upgrading from Volunteer to Staff...  reimbursement.  If a person pays 30 dollars for admission, and then finds out they could have registered as staff for 10, but our policy is to not give refunds, then they're more likely to just stay a volunteer.  If you give people money back for upgrading from attendee to staff, or a Kumoricash equivalent for stuff in the vendors room, and have it all printed out ahead of time, you would have had at least 3 more staff members.

If you do have some sort of policy for this, you might want to make it public, cause I don't know about it, and people keep asking me.

There is an inherent problem with this, however. We do not want staff who are only interested in saving twenty bucks; we want staff who are interested in working for the convention. If you can come up with a better system that is free of complications such as you've mentioned, we would be delighted to hear it, but what you've proposed doesn't rectify the situation.

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Edited for context:

When I use all caps, it's not cause I'm angry.

It's for emphasis, especially on points that I feel like I'm beating like a dead horse.

I understand your points, and I think you're mistaken on a great many of them, and I hope I'm explaining my views clearly, because I too feel like I must repeat myself. I feel passionately about not degrading the staff who already feel under appreciated and who put in long hours for love of the con, and especially about keeping votes out of the hands of unaffiliated agents who have no obligation to the con, so I'm willing to reemphasize my points for as long as it takes.
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Offline Darkerlight

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2007, 10:06:18 pm »
I understand your points, and I think you're mistaken on a great many of them, and I hope I'm explaining my views clearly, because I too feel like I must repeat myself. I feel passionately about not degrading the staff who already feel under appreciated and who put in long hours for love of the con, and especially about keeping votes out of the hands of unaffiliated agents who have no obligation to the con, so I'm willing to reemphasize my points for as long as it takes.

Volunteers working over 25 hour care. Their affiliated, they're associated, they wear our badge, they love our con. They are obligated the SAME WAY we are, by love of the con and of anime. They will bear the same consequences of red and black lists as we will and have. For many of us, they're our roots. I refuse to forget how I started, where I came from, where most of us came from. We've closed the vote to public this year but that doesn't mean we have to leave them behind. They are not some joe off the street come to take us over. Ignoring them won't appreciate staff any more, if anything I won't think it an insult.
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Offline guspasho

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #37 on: September 11, 2007, 10:23:11 pm »
Volunteers working over 25 hour care. Their affiliated, they're associated, they wear our badge, they love our con. They are obligated the SAME WAY we are, by love of the con and of anime. They will bear the same consequences of red and black lists as we will and have. For many of us, they're our roots. I refuse to forget how I started, where I came from, where most of us came from. We've closed the vote to public this year but that doesn't mean we have to leave them behind. They are not some joe off the street come to take us over. Ignoring them won't appreciate staff any more, if anything I won't think it an insult.

I will say it as many times as I need to. Volunteers are volunteers. They are not affiliated or associated as staffers are - this is inherent to the definition of their volunteer status. They may care, they may feel an association or affiliation where there technically is none, and that's great! We appreciate them and we show our appreciation to them by rewarding them well for that. And by some accounts this year we've rewarded them better than we have rewarded our staff.
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Offline Darkerlight

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #38 on: September 11, 2007, 10:50:15 pm »
We are an all volunteer staff. ALWAYS have been. If you want to quibble over the meaning of volunteer then start there.

And ya know what, having volenteered in the past and having staffed this year. Both got more benifits but the big difference is that in the end most everything they were prosimed was denied and they STILL WORKED. They had less benefits then when I worked volunteer, that is not an improvment. They were promised more than ever yes, but it all came up short, the promises were half full to empty. We got more benifits too as staff but that wasn't denied to us. They have the right to hold us accountable in a vote.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2007, 10:59:21 pm by Darkerlight »
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Offline guspasho

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2007, 11:20:41 pm »
We are an all volunteer staff. ALWAYS have been. If you want to quibble over the meaning of volunteer then start there.

And ya know what, having volenteered in the past and having staffed this year. Both got more benifits but the big difference is that in the end most everything they were prosimed was denied and they STILL WORKED. They had less benefits then when I worked volunteer, that is not an improvment. They were promised more than ever yes, but it all came up short, the promises were half full to empty. We got more benifits too as staff but that wasn't denied to us. They have the right to hold us accountable in a vote.

That is simply, absolutely false. This year, for the first time ever, the volunteers got a ton of new benefits they were fully able to cash in on, and some they weren't even supposed to get. They were let in to the staff dinner and to the staff after-party, let in to con suite, free Pocky delivery, and free entry into Mini-con if they volunteered during it. And not only did they get free t-shirts for the first time, but they got free staff t-shirts - which, by the way, were supposed to be reserved exclusively for staff - but unfortunately caused a shortage of staff t-shirts for the actual staff.

The only thing they did not get was Kumoricash, because Kumoricash unfortunately fell upon Meg to handle along with the whole rest of the con. We are really sorry about the Kumoricash.
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Offline Hawkeye

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2007, 11:37:30 pm »
Is there really such a problem with granting staff privileges to those volunteers who were granted honorary staff status?  Especially when the 'honorary staff' title along with benefits had been given sanction by operations (as far as I understood it).  I can understand not letting all volunteers vote, guspacho, but those who have been given honorary staff status should be allowed to, or at the very least the executive staff members should hold a vote on whether or not they have that right.  As you also said, they may not be technically a part of the con, but they deserve fair and equal treatment just as any of us do.  That means taking it up on a vote, not trying to say they can or cannot have certain benefits without a fair and just decision.
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Offline Darkerlight

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2007, 11:45:32 pm »
We are an all volunteer staff. ALWAYS have been. If you want to quibble over the meaning of volunteer then start there.

And ya know what, having volenteered in the past and having staffed this year. Both got more benifits but the big difference is that in the end most everything they were prosimed was denied and they STILL WORKED. They had less benefits then when I worked volunteer, that is not an improvment. They were promised more than ever yes, but it all came up short, the promises were half full to empty. We got more benifits too as staff but that wasn't denied to us. They have the right to hold us accountable in a vote.

That is simply, absolutely false. This year, for the first time ever, the volunteers got a ton of new benefits they were fully able to cash in on, and some they weren't even supposed to get. They were let in to the staff dinner and to the staff after-party, let in to con suite, free Pocky delivery, and free entry into Mini-con if they volunteered during it. And not only did they get free t-shirts for the first time, but they got free staff t-shirts - which, by the way, were supposed to be reserved exclusively for staff - but unfortunately caused a shortage of staff t-shirts for the actual staff.

The only thing they did not get was Kumoricash, because Kumoricash unfortunately fell upon Meg to handle along with the whole rest of the con. We are really sorry about the Kumoricash.

And sorry to break that illusion but volunteers that worked very hard were aloud to -quitely so as not to offend the other voluteers- attend staff dinners before. And aloud to recover in the suite. Just because we didn't have a body of law for it doesn't mean it didn't already exist. Is wasn't for every volunteer but it was for those who worked hard, made the extra effort and were given the honor and privalige to by directors or managers with directors approval. And on tees for the past two years there were no staff tees so that benefit is new to both staff and the "honorary"... There were posters and the really hard working volunteers got those too.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2007, 12:04:21 am by Darkerlight »
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Offline valliegirl

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2007, 12:43:09 am »
But what does a commitment to do their jobs entail, Vallie?

Staff positions have various levels of commitment already put in to them.  For example, as Kylite pointed out above, Yojimbo aren't required to do a lot before con.  Some of them do, and we greatly appreciate the extra effort, but on the whole their job is mainly needed at con.

There are other positions that are full year positions.  Take the positions of Registration Manager and Volunteer Coordinator.  When I took on the Volunteer Coordinator position last November, I lost count of hours I put in within a month.  This is because I spent countless hours before, during, and after the full time job that actually pays me, answering emails from people interested in volunteering or becoming staff.

Just as a preemptive statement that I will speak further on later, I did not talk ANYONE out of becoming staff, and I take personally any implication that I did.  I actually helped, including Dawn, 15 people become staff.  There's not one person who said "I want to be staff" that I talked out of it.  I talked people into it and told them who to talk to.  As a matter of fact, most of those people I walked up to the directors and introduced them and VOUCHED for them to the directors that they were going to be working for. 

I'll digress for now.

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Most of these benefits are provided to staff because of what they have committed to do at con, which is work during just about the entire event.

Not true for all positions.  There are many positions within publicity where the bulk of the work is done pre-con, and Publicity department is advertised as being a good department to work for because you can take it easier during con. 

Without naming names, I will say right now that there are some people that decided they did enough work as staff during the year that they did not feel the need to actually do a lot more at con.  I'm not their directors nor their immediate manager, so I cannot speak to the time put in before con vs work put in during con. 

Let's just say though there's quite a few staff members that got to go to panels and other things without being the person running them.  I know I sure as hell wasn't able to do that, and THAT burns me a lot more than one of my volunteers working 8 hours a day during con, compared to my 14. 

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As opposed to volunteers, staff are expected to attend the con, they can't NOT attend, hence they receive discounted admission.
Staff are expected to work for as many hours as we need them, which is often the whole con, hence they receive a discounted hotel room, and access to the con suite to provide for the basic needs of our hardworking staff.

Which is fine and dandy in both cases.  I never asked for a discount for the volunteers.  I merely listed it as a staff benefit, since you asked me what kept staff from being volunteers.  The benefits of staff is my answer to you.

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And as for the rest of the benefits, including Con Suite, free t-shirts (and apparently free staff t-shirts that were reserved specifically for staff, not the honorary staff), volunteers already receive those benefits.

This year, which I've already thanked you and Meg for, if not in this thread, certainly another.  If you missed that, thank you. 

However, I'd like to remind that in 2006, not only were there NO volunteer benefits, there was NO volunteer coordinator.  I will not go into that issue, cause it's another topic for another discussion.  In 2006 even staff had to pay for t-shirts, so that was not happening for volunteers that year.  And in 2005, when I actually was a volunteer under Tammy, I actually got yelled at for being in Con Suite doing work I'd been assigned.

You see, treatment of volunteers is a personal issue for me, cause I've been there, Gus.  I've been treated like crap by staff members who had no clue who I was. 

This is why I asked Brownie if I could take this job this year.  I want to make a difference for the volunteers and I want them to have a voice.

You can take my mic from me and I'll still be here with the same opinions I've had for years.


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You are talking about giving staff benefits to anyone who volunteers for 20 hours at con, but staff often work 20 hours per day! You are talking about giving staff benefits to anyone who volunteers for 40 hours during a year but staff sometimes work 40 hours per week, all year!

Yes, some staff do.  I know that quite a few other people who have worked just as hard as what you describe have also told me they'd like volunteers to have benefits as well.  Funny how some of us hard working staff members don't feel like giving volunteers benefits in any way detracts from what we get.

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Staff aren't just obligated to work a minimum number of hours, they have to work as many hours as their job requires. How many times do I have to explain this point? 

Maybe when a person is applying for certain position you should go through the expectation with them as there's many people that are staff that obviously don't get their responsibility, and then those in positions of management or directorship should possibly do something about it when someone is in breech. 

If you give someone an arbitrary number, like 24, it gives them a jumping off point.  It's not a random number I made up in my head.  It's a number I was told and had clarified this year.  When I was setting up this system, and I was going through the math, 20 was always the goal.  It wasn't until volunteers met the goal that people started bitching.

Like the scene in Office Space, if you want for people to do 30 hours in a weekend, then make the minimum 30.  Don't give a number like 24 and then bitch that people aren't going above and beyond. 

From there, you take your expectation of a Grunt or Mook and ask the volunteers to meet or exceed that goal.  If you don't like people just doing a bare minimum, then challenge them to do better.

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You say that volunteers don't receive enough respect compared to staff, but once volunteers meet your minimum hour requirement you seem to saying they do not have to do anything else, whereas staff are required to work the whole con. What kind of effect does that have on the amount of respect our staff receive when they are working the whole con and the volunteers only put in a minimum number of hours to get the same thing? As a staffer for which this convention has become a full-time job, I think that system would appear utterly unfair and demoralizing to me.

So, where is a middle where we can meet?  You're taking it extreme one side, and apparently seem to think I'm advertising doing the "bare minimum".  Let's look at what volunteers actually did this year.  No one, and I mean no one, put in 20 hours and then said "Well, that's it.  I'm done.  I've got my twenty time to goof off."  All of the people that put in beneath 20 before con did their own thing during con.  All of the people who put in over 20 before con, continued working at the convention itself when and where they could.

Going back to my best and brightest examples, Rachael and Jaz, they both broke 40 hours before con and still did a TON of work at con.  If anyone deserves anything out of this, it's the two of them.  Jaz has been volunteering for the con for years.  Rachael, I just met this year, but did a ton of work for us during the year.  The work they did before and during con is comparable to the effort you would expect from a Grunt staff member.  Rachael lives in Eugene and couldn't make it out to every meeting, but was present at quite a few.  Jaz was at more meetings than your average staff member. 

Does the thought of giving them voting rights offend and demoralize you?  If so, how do you feel about the voting right of the staff with lesser responsibilities?  Do you want for Ops grunts and Programming Mooks to not have voting rights as well?  At what point does it end Guspasho?  At what point is someone's ranking within the con circle high enough that you would consider them equal?

It goes back to something Kri said earlier, elitism.  I don't want our voting system to be based on something like that.  You know who I want to vote in this year's election?  People who care about our convention.  And I think, whether a person signs their life away to the con or not, if they put in the effort and they prove themselves, that shows they give a damn about this con. 

Obviously you don't like my numbers.  What to you would be enough?  How much blood sweat and tears does someone have to put into this before you deem them worthy of voting?

Of course, now that I'm going through this a second time with editing, yeah I put that much time into this...  I see now that it's never enough for you.  There is no answer to that question.  Because the point is, you can challenge the idea of my system all you like.  We can raise the goal, and the volunteers can meet/exceed everytime.  But if they didn't sign their life away day one and haven't worked as tirelessly as you then you still don't consider them to have the right to vote.


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Take the example to its logical extreme. Everybody gets their volunteer hours in before con. Nobody works at con, or otherwise works until they hit their minimum number of hours, then they all quit. We already have a serious problem with our staff sticking around post-con to clean up the hotel, how much of a problem on Monday or even Sunday do you think that would create? We can count on anyone who is truly responsible to stick around and help out once they have met their required hours, but when it came to cleaning up the con, with staff obligations, that still only amounted to 5-6 people. Not to mention that the responsible ones who do help out the whole time are taking on the burden of all the people who have left to have fun or go home. How respectful is your proposal to them?

Once again, this isn't some lofty thing I came up with last night while eating chocolate ice cream.  I got approval for this system in February and attempted putting it into action.  Now I failed in my end of this for various reasons, which I've explained previous and apologized for.  However, none of my failure as the volunteer coordinator was in any way the fault of those volunteering. 

Your "logical extreme" isn't.  The volunteers have already proven this.  You want to go on and on about people only doing the bare minimum, but that's not what happened.  And the fact that you thank everyone for their time, tell them how much we appreciate them, and then come here and say the truth, that you still consider them not worth the respect that you believe yourself to be worth...  well congrats, you just lost a little bit more of it from me. 

Once again, if you don't like my numbers, give me a "logical estimation" of where you believe they should be at in order for any volunteer to be a hard working individual in your eyes.

Once again, never mind.  upon further reading, asking you for numbers is still a moot point which makes me wonder why you ever went through this arguement to begin with.

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On the point of voting rights I must most vehemently disagree. As opposed to staff, volunteers are by definition not affiliated with the convention. They are under no obligation to adhere to the staff policies, obey the command structure, participate in planning meetings, or even work. They may perform some work, or adhere to the policies, etc, but they have not agreed to be held to that, and that is what makes staff staff, and why staff specifically, and no one else, are given the right to vote among the membership of Altonimbus Entertainment. Volunteers may bust their butts all they like, but until and unless they agree to be held to busting their butts, extending to them the right to vote would be undue them and extraordinarily unfair to those who do bust their butts.

Thank you for explaining your opinion on this so I understand right exactly where you stand.  Apparently there are a few people, including myself, that were mistaken as to your views on this issue.  This has definitely made me more informed. 

However, if someone does 70 hours of work by choice, I don't understand why that would be "extraordinarily unfair" to allow them the right to vote side by side with a person who did 70 hours of work because they were suppossed to by the fact they signed a little sheet of paper.  I would think the fact that matters is that both people worked for the con and care about the con.  And if both will sign up to be staff the following year, where the hell is the problem?

Honestly, and I doubt this would happen because it seems like something that only the board will decide on, I would love if the staff members were able to vote on this point.  This way, it's not up to a handful of people making decisions for everyone else, but rather to the conglomerate of staff, so that the could actually say once and for all whether or not they're actually threatened by the idea of someone who worked just as hard as they did having the ability to vote for who we'll all be working for next year. 

Because, you know what, the people I hear complaining the loudest that they don't want for volunteers to have benefits are board members.  Not all board members mind you, but I can name a few.  I don't think one person in the lower conglomerate has actually come to me and said, "Yeah, Vallie volunteer benefits are the worst idea ever, I really feel unappreciated by you giving them benefits."  Actually, it's exactly the opposite.  When I was coming up with this, many members of staff came to me saying they wanted better treatment for volunteers.  They were volunteers once and they have friends that are volunteers. 

In fact, Meg came to me asking about my ideas and I told her a few times about the plan before putting it before Brownie for approval in February.

In the end, I know, now, it's not my decision.  And I also know that you probably won't ever agree with me.  But I'll be damned if I'm silent about my dissatisfaction with current policy.  It's important to me because this con is important to me.

By the way, in the past, volunteers have been allowed to vote.  In fact, many of the people now on the board of directors, appointees and elected folks alike, were once a part of elections where volunteers had a say.  I don't remember the world falling into chaos either.... other than when directors weren't doing their jobs, which is hardly the fault of volunteer votes.


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Taken another way, the vote is not a reward. The right to vote should not be awarded to anyone who has worked a minimum number of hours and has no further obligation to contribute to the convention.

If it's not a reward, then what gave you all the right to take it away from people that already had it?  Once again, this hasn't always been a policy.  Volunteers have been allowed to vote in the past. 

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And I'll be the first to say it, there are staff who slack off, and who don't bust their butts, and who don't work during con. Those staff are not doing their jobs and they are getting undue benefits. The far more proper remedy to me would be holding those staff accountable, but not removing all accountability!

I believe that I never said anything about taking away accountability.  In fact if you read my messages again, I was the one who stated that maybe actually enforcing things like a red list is a good idea.

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Volunteer benefits didn't keep anyone from registering as staff? Was the intent to keep them from signing up as staff? Because when I hear from staffers that they were told specifically to go "volunteer" rather than staff because the perks are better, it sounds like someone sure intended to keep them from becoming staff!

And I'd like to know who said that to Dawn.  Each and every person who came to me, I explained the differences between staff commitment and volunteering and I asked which worked for them better.  Most people chose staff, and if they didn't right away, they did after spending a few hours as a volunteer.  I will note for you that Dawn started as one of my volunteers and after working with me decided to become staff.  In fact, that's what happened with the bulk of my registration staff.  The only ones that didn't, basically decided not to upgrade because they'd already paid as an attendee and didn't want to bother with the troubles of upgrading if they've already paid full cost.  Oh and the fact that we didn't lower age requirement until half the year was over didn't help either, but you got a couple upgrades because of that. 

Mostly, when it came to volunteering, there were mostly people who wanted to help with a few things during the year but didn't want any responsibilities during con.  Which is fine, because none of those people hit 20 hours, so they wouldn't be lumped in with the rest.  Were suppossed to get a few things for their time, but not things like entrance into con suite or after party. 

It was the people that wanted to be staff but had something standing in their way, like the fact they'd already paid or were too young, that were still putting in a ton of hours even after they hit the 20 hour mark.

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I can agree with this, because right now the incredible increase in benefits has far outpaced and even exceeded the benefits we have extended to staff.

Forgetting for the moment that volunteers never received most of the things they were promised, here's what Honorary staff members would have received: 
Special Button hand made by me (which though I was proud of were still described as ghetto and didn't get the sort of notice by staff I had hoped for )
10 dollars of Kumoricash (never happened, for anything we were giving it as prizes for, cause we couldn't get it printed)
tickets for a raffle (never happened, but I had hoped to have some gift certificates to blockbuster or suncoast and pick 3 winners)
Kumoricon t shirt (never promised a staff shirt, only attendee shirt)
And a box of Pocky.

Let's examine this. 
Buttons.  If any staff member wants at any time a button made by me, I'll be happy to do so.
10 dollars Kumoricash.  Considering with give discount admission and rooms I don't want to hear any complain about this one ever.  10 bucks is nothing compared to what we save, and it all goes back to the con anyway so it wasn't like we were losing a ton of money.
Raffle.  If staff want a raffle, give em a raffle!  How hard is that?
Tshirt.  Staff get the special t-shirts, and suppossedly get them in the size that they order, however since everyone other than me had time to go down to the dealers room on the first day, I got one smaller than what I'd ordered. 
Box of Pocky.  It comes from Tom.  It's free.  If you want one for every staff member, have the directors make an order for every member of their staff!  He was already making Pocky delivery rounds for staff.  I got one.  Sarah got one.  Kat got one!
Con Suite privledges, con party privledges, and voting rights.  You gave us two out of three which isn't bad, and I've thanked you for a couple times now.  Voting Rights is the horse we're currently beating to death.

Seriously, what is so grand and over and beyond about what I wanted to do here?  Never said give them all staff benefits.  I never said give everything to the Volunteers for nothing.  I said, let's give them a goal.  Obviously, you don't think my goal is good enough.  And when I talked with you and Meg about it back in January, I wish you'd said something back then so I could have thought on it more. 

But you didn't.


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There is an inherent problem with this, however. We do not want staff who are only interested in saving twenty bucks; we want staff who are interested in working for the convention. If you can come up with a better system that is free of complications such as you've mentioned, we would be delighted to hear it, but what you've proposed doesn't rectify the situation.

Let me explain this a different way.  You've already got people who worked for you a full year who paid full admission.  In all different departments.  You already have a benefit in place that allows for people who are staff to have a discounted admission. 

For example, Mike Andrews.  He won't bring it up, cause he's not one to complain.  He actually told me he didn't want any of the volunteer benefits to make up for the difference.  He is signed sealed delivered as staff and technically is attendee badge #2 for 2007.

This is not a matter of people trying to milk your precious system.  This is not people trying to get in cheap on first day of con. 

The complication is policy.  The problem is policy.  Policy working against the volunteers.  Policy working against the staff. 

If the policy is broken, then let's fix it.  Let's go in and say, "If Staff member x paid 30 dollars, we owe him 20 back to be paid either in cash or in Kumoricash after he signs on the line with blood and hands over his soul."

I know it's not that simple, but get the board together, get a quorum, and make some freaking amendments.

You say you want to make things better for the staff members.  You say you want to make the staff members happier.  You say you want to encourage more people to go from being volunteer to staff.

THEN DO IT.  All of you!  Quit bitching about how giving something good to the volunteers will make staff offended, and actually do something good for the staff members.

You know what makes people feel unappreciated?  Being treated like they don't matter.  Being excluded.  Being promised something and either being given something else or nothing at all.  Being promised that YOU are going to do something and be somewhere and perform a certain job and YOU never do. 

I know what it's like to be a staff member and have these this happen.  I know what it's like to be a volunteer and have these things happen. 

And you know what?  As a staff member, when I feel this way, it has nothing to do with the volunteers.  As a matter of fact, most of the time, when I feel this way as a staff member, it's because of someone in the hierarchy. 

And I know I have the power to inflict the same.  And if the course of this discussion, if I've made anyone feel small, I apologize, but please keep in mind, this is how you make the volunteers feel on a regular basis.  Some days, I've felt really good about the work I've done for this con. 

Today I feel like I've accomplished absolutely nothing in an entire year.

But I have to keep fighting for this.  Because I care about the convention.  We cannot continue to treat volunteers like second class citizens.  Without volunteers, there's no one to support staff.  Without volunteers, there's no one to take place of the staff who lose interest or burn out in 2-3 years time.  Without replacement staff, eventually con dies.

We've already had one year without a volunteer coordinator, with negative consequences.  Try it again, without any volunteers at all and see what happens.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2007, 01:29:03 am by valliegirl »
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Offline valliegirl

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #43 on: September 12, 2007, 12:51:31 am »
And sorry to break that illusion but volunteers that worked very hard were aloud to -quitely so as not to offend the other voluteers- attend staff dinners before.

True:  As a Volunteer, I went to the after dinner in 2004 and in 2005
In 2006, they *tried* blocking out as many of the volunteers as they could and wound up blocking out most of the Yojimbo instead, and a few volunteers still got in...  which wasn't fair to yojimbo, but they had fun at their own party as the pictures do tell.
And in 2007, there was pizza. 

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Offline RoamingGnome

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #44 on: September 12, 2007, 07:37:24 am »
Knowing the next meeting is for voting in the new execs.  How hard would it be to have the staff vote on the rights for volunteers or the open body to have the right to vote?  Or at minimum voting to open the floor to discussing volunteers rights.  Currently we have some of the more outspoken on both sides speaking out on the forums.  I really think this is something that would be very constructive to be heard and worked out at the next meeting.  Expecially sense we will be voting on those who will be influencing the coarse of the con next year next month more than likely.

Offline valliegirl

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #45 on: September 12, 2007, 07:55:12 am »
Knowing the next meeting is for voting in the new execs.  How hard would it be to have the staff vote on the rights for volunteers or the open body to have the right to vote?  Or at minimum voting to open the floor to discussing volunteers rights.  Currently we have some of the more outspoken on both sides speaking out on the forums.  I really think this is something that would be very constructive to be heard and worked out at the next meeting.  Expecially sense we will be voting on those who will be influencing the coarse of the con next year next month more than likely.

This is what I'd like to ask for...  the chance to let the staff officially vote on this issue.

Board members, is this issue something you'd be willing to open up to the floor?
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Offline guspasho

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #46 on: September 12, 2007, 09:49:46 am »
And sorry to break that illusion but volunteers that worked very hard were aloud to -quitely so as not to offend the other voluteers- attend staff dinners before. And aloud to recover in the suite. Just because we didn't have a body of law for it doesn't mean it didn't already exist. Is wasn't for every volunteer but it was for those who worked hard, made the extra effort and were given the honor and privalige to by directors or managers with directors approval. And on tees for the past two years there were no staff tees so that benefit is new to both staff and the "honorary"... There were posters and the really hard working volunteers got those too.

Those volunteers weren't allowed to attend the staff dinner or use the con suite, and weren't supposed to, they only snuck in and took advantage of the staff who did not want to confront them and tell them to leave, and who frankly have more important things to do at con than police entrance to con suite. We did have a body of law for it, we have said outright that "this is only for staff", and it was violated with impunity because normal people don't want to have to be confrontational, and those volunteers pushed those boundaries.

Those volunteers are not making the extra effort, otherwise they would be staff, and we would not be having this discussion. By offering them rights you we would be permitting them to explicitly avoid making the extra effort to obtain the benefits of being staff. You are suggesting that we should extend staff rights to those who explicitly refuse to take the extra effort.

And, as I've said before, this year we changed our policy in favor of the volunteers and explicitly provided them those benefits.

I'd like to come back around to speculation here. When we extend all the staff rights to non-staffers, what is the incentive to remain staff? Do you realize that it is the staff that carry all the critical roles and that makes this convention happen, not the volunteers, and that the special benefits we give staffers are the only things we offer them in return for their countless hours of labor? In terms of importance to the convention the staff are absolutely critical, but the volunteers are gravy. Sure, we could pare down the staff ranks by removing some questionably non-critical positions, and we should be rewarding the volunteers, (which we already do in excess,) but what should the staff get? Should they get nothing special of their own? That is what you are asking for, isn't it? Why would anyone want to bother staffing if they get no special recognition above a volunteer? Where is the incentive to put in 200 or even a thousand hours for the convention above the 20 or 40 you are saying should be required for all the staff rights? Do you expect people to continue to be complete altruists for no special recognition? And do you realize we have a serious problem this year with staff morale and this only amplifies it?
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Offline rictheron

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #47 on: September 12, 2007, 09:57:28 am »
If I might interject a few quick statements here.

  I agree that Volunteers deserve a hell of a lot of recognition for everything they do both before and during the convention.
  I feel it is unfair to say that staff are more important or harder working because I personally have seen staff slack off or do nothing and have seen volunteers work themselves to death.  As with all things it is an individual thing.
  I suspect that a lot of promises and agreements over benefits and rights failed to pass this year because of having to deal with everything.  This is to be expected but also should be accounted for.

  Guspasho, I might not be an executive right now but as a director for the past several years I do not feel it is necessarily appropriate for a single executive to be stating these things in the forums as such.  I understand that as part of your job this falls into your category but at the same time many of the questions are involving some of the basic bylaws of the Altonimbus corporation as well as taking on the sense of justification and job satisfaction of many of those who have worked with us for years.  Nor is it appropriate for a single staff executive to be stating what should and shouldn't be allowed for a large number of our help, and no offense intended, particularly when in a staff position which does not directly interact with those same volunteers regularly.  At the same time, is not stating that one person is working harder then another, or that one person is more devoted then another, rather too judgemental for any one person to say? At the very least. I must agree that this is something which should be taken before all of the executives for a statement if not a decision rather then being argued over in a forum.  

  At the same time, Vallie, I do not believe that a vote can be done in the next general meeting for several reasons.  First, with the exception of these forums and personal conversations, many people at the meeting might not know the issues at question and going over them would take a considerable amount of time.  Furthermore, the aforementioned bylaws must be examined first to see what they state on the case and how changes will affect the convention as a whole so that ideas can be generated.  Finally, the next meeting will be seeing a possible change of several staff positions.  The voting, as demonstrated last year, can take some time and any new staffers are going to need to be brought up to date on the current state of affairs before they can make an accurate vote as either an elected Executive or an appointed director.

  So Might I suggest, instead of using this forums to debate importance, work load, or rights of volunteers, use it to propose ideas on how to support the volunteers, encourage them, and, if people want to tackle the subject, how a fair voting system might be put in place for volunteers, or at least honorary volunteers.  A poll of people who support the various ideas, taken from staff and volunteers, might add weight to certain ideas  Then the ideas could be taken to the executives.

  My personal idea might be for this past years executives and directors to grant an honorary staff position to volunteers who turned in a certain number of verified work hours or who worked in certain areas.  I know we didn't verify hours for the most part this year so it isn't a perfect solution but on a limited basis it might be helpful and could provide a standard to work with in the following year.
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Offline superjaz

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #48 on: September 12, 2007, 10:19:21 am »
free t-shirts (and apparently free staff t-shirts that were reserved specifically for staff, not the honorary staff)

Let me make a point on this as a honorary staff volunteer who received a staff shrirt,  

I DIDN'T ask for a staff shirt! chris and i went by the kumoricon booth and asked the staffers runing it for our shirts, and they didn't know, and (neither did we) if we were to get staff shirts or atendee shirts. so we waited to get our shirts and later when we went by to drop of charity auction stuff, we were told then that it was decided (i dont know by who) that we were supost to get staff shirts.
If the staff shirt i received  meant another  staffer didnt received their shirt, that sucks and i feel terrible about it
I will happily turn in my shirt back at the meeting dont worry it not used yet no problem
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Offline TomtheFanboy

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Re: Discussion of voting rights for volunteers
« Reply #49 on: September 12, 2007, 11:26:01 am »
That is simply, absolutely false. This year, for the first time ever, the volunteers got a ton of new benefits they were fully able to cash in on, and some they weren't even supposed to get. They were let in to the staff dinner and to the staff after-party, let in to con suite, free Pocky delivery, and free entry into Mini-con if they volunteered during it. And not only did they get free t-shirts for the first time, but they got free staff t-shirts - which, by the way, were supposed to be reserved exclusively for staff - but unfortunately caused a shortage of staff t-shirts for the actual staff.

The only thing they did not get was Kumoricash, because Kumoricash unfortunately fell upon Meg to handle along with the whole rest of the con. We are really sorry about the Kumoricash.

OK, since Pocky Club was invoked let me just mention that we did not make any deliveries to volunteers on behalf of the convention. We made about 6 deliveries to staff on behalf of other staff. 2 for Vallie (no, not from me), 1 for Sarah, 1 for Brownie, 1 for Kri, and 1 for Brenda. The box of Pocky that Kat received was from me to her and was not meant to be on behalf of the convention.

Also, I am unclear on the issue of the staff dinner actually happening or being separate from the after-party. That is something for another argument though. This post is just meant to clarify Pocky Club's participation.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2007, 11:45:02 am by TomtheFanboy »
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