This is the second of two Constitutional amendments that were approved by the Executive and Captains Council recently. This one requires a little more explanation than the last, so let’s dive in and try and understand what this means for the general membership.
Sections 15-18 of Article V have been added. These new sections were written specifically to deal with a discrete situation that has occurred occasionally over the past few years – which I’ll explain in a moment. But in doing so, the rules about transfers and placements when members return to the fleet have been enshrined in the Constitution.
Protections regarding transfers
The new section 15 of Article V puts into place protections for members who wish to consider a transfer by clarifying the process under which transfers occur. We’ve made clear that members who request a transfer but are unable to be placed elsewhere have the right to withdraw that transfer request and remain on their current vessel.
Regarding disciplinary issues
We have a disciplinary process in our group which ensures that our commanding officers are able to remove disruptive members from their ships. You can read about this disciplinary process in Article VIII of the Constitution and the Judge Advocate General’s Corps page.
While disciplinary measures are, on the whole, very rare for our group, they have been brought to bear a few times over the past few years. We’ve noticed, when this has happened, that commanding officers who wish to remove a disruptive member from their ship are often unwilling to expel members from the fleet entirely – perhaps because they feel that a member might do better under another captain, or they just want to make sure that a member has every opportunity to sim with us that they can have.
Because of this, we’ve had a few situations where a member was expelled from their vessel but were then unable to find placement on any other vessel in the fleet due to their disciplinary record. This was distressing for those members, who were in a “gray zone” – neither members of a ship, nor expelled, and therefore stuck in purgatory. In the situations where this occurred, these members often expressed hopes of a placement opening up for them in the future – an unlikely outcome.
Similarly, there have been a very small number of cases where members who were having trouble on their ship and took a Leave of Absence before disciplinary measures were brought to bear. These members sometimes attempt to return only to find no captain is willing to take them on their ship. Commanding officers in our fleet have always had the ultimate right of refusal for placement on their vessel (an unwritten rule now codified in section 16 of this amendment).
To that end, the new amendments to the membership article of the Constitution explain clearly what happens to members who have taken an LOA and are unable to find a placement in the fleet upon returning, or members who were expelled from their ship and as a result cannot find a placement elsewhere in the fleet. In short, these amendments require that the Fleet Placement Officer make a good-faith effort to find a placement in the fleet for members in these situations, and, if no placement can be found:
- … members previously on LOA will be deemed “resigned” and will be required to petition the Executive Council for reinstatement of their membership;
- … members who were expelled from their ship will be permanently expelled.
Members who are able to find a placement in either of these situations will be unaffected by these amendments. These amendments only apply to members who have been denied a placement deliberately by each commanding officer in the fleet.
The goal here is to create a process that ensures both fairness and closure. We don’t want members to remain in purgatory, waiting for an outcome that won’t happen. Instead, we want members to have a final answer – one way or another – so they can move on to another organization if necessary.