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A CLOSER LOOK AT USTA NATIONAL AND SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

AND A CALL TO ACTION

TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER!

 

By Rich Neher

Distinguished tennis professional, author, speaker, and club manager Rod Heckelman published an article last month about the USTA NorCal and its Adult Leagues program. (Maybe They Will Listen) In this article he writes about member voting rights according to the section's bylaws: "The way the voting is established, it heavily favors the clubs, providing them with essentially a built-in majority.  The common member of the USTA NorCal has one vote, while USTA NorCal member clubs in good standing have 15 votes plus 5 votes per court, up to a maximum of 95…those numbers would be an obvious concern for those running the show."​

I did not know this about NorCal's voting rights and decided to look at the bylaws of the other 16 sections and of USTA national. Please be aware that the data is only as current as the sections have their bylaws updated on their websites. Since the SoCal and Intermountain bylaws were sent to me personally, I have reason to believe they are current

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USTA NATIONAL BYLAWS VOTING RIGHTS

The only voting members of the USTA shall be Sectional Associations and Direct Member Clubs and Organizations. The sectional boundaries and the number of votes of each Sectional Association and of each Direct Member Club and Organization shall be determined as provided in the Bylaws. Each Sectional Association may contain one or more District Associations, each of which shall consist of the Member Clubs and Organizations located within boundaries fixed by the Sectional Association.

Voting Strength. The only voting members of the Corporation shall be Sectional Associations and Direct Member Clubs and Organizations.

 

A. Sectional Associations. The voting strength for Sectional Associations shall be as follows:

• Caribbean – 6,048 votes (approximately 1 percent)

• Eastern – 61,064 votes (approximately 7 percent)

• Florida – 58,151 votes (approximately 7 percent)

• Hawaii Pacific – 7,939 votes (approximately 1 percent)

• Intermountain – 47,353 votes (approximately 5 percent)

• Mid-Atlantic – 47,806 votes (approximately 6 percent)

• Middle States – 37,216 votes (approximately 4 percent)

• Midwest – 95,816 votes (approximately 11 percent)

• Missouri Valley – 28,482 votes (approximately 3 percent)

• New England – 41,982 votes (approximately 5 percent)

• Northern – 15,073 votes (approximately 2 percent)

• Northern California – 57,704 votes (approximately 7 percent)

• Pacific Northwest – 28,346 votes (approximately 3 percent)

• Southern – 193,803 votes (approximately 23 percent)

• Southern California – 46,287 votes (approximately 5 percent)

• Southwest – 16,462 votes (approximately 2 percent)

• Texas – 58,706 votes (approximately 7 percent)

No Sectional Association’s voting strength shall be more than forty percent (40%) of the aggregate voting strength of the sectional associations.

B. Direct Member Clubs and Organizations. The voting strength of the Direct Member Clubs and Organizations, shall be as follows:

• Bermuda Lawn Tennis Club – 26 votes (approximately less than .5 percent)

• Coral Beach and Tennis Club, Bermuda – 26 votes (approximately less than .5 percent)

CARIBBEAN SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

The only voting members of the Association shall be the District Associations. The district boundaries and the number of votes of each District Association shall be as hereinafter set forth. Any club or organization interested in the purposes of the Association is eligible for membership and, upon approval by the Board, shall be a member of the Association and of the District Association within those boundaries it is located. Any individual interested in the purpose of the Association is eligible for Individual Membership. No Individual Member shall, however, have any voting or other rights in the Association, except as may be otherwise specifically provided in the By-Laws. Honorary Individual Memberships may be conferred upon worthy individuals.

Voting rights for each District Association shall be on the basis of one (1) vote for each one dollar ($1.00) of Club Membership dues which has accrued to the Section from that District during the twelve month period terminating on the 31 October prior to the Meeting; plus one (1) vote for each adult Individual Member and one-half (1/2) vote for each junior Individual Member in good standing and resident in the District as of said 31 October. By 30 November of each year the Secretary shall certify in writing to each District Association the number of votes it is entitled to at the next Annual General Meeting and at any Extraordinary General Meeting held prior to 31 October of the year following; and shall include information as to exactly how this figure was arrived at. Any accrued Club Membership dues not actually received by the Association prior to a General Meeting shall correspondingly reduce the voting rights of the delinquent District.

EASTERN SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

 

1. Each classification of membership as defined in the preceding Article V 1. (a-e), shall be entitled to vote at USTA EASTERN Annual and/or Special Meetings.

2. All Membership dues, as set forth by the USTA, shall be paid pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth by the USTA. All rights as a member of USTA EASTERN are contingent upon membership dues being paid in full to the USTA and member compliance with the Constitution, Bylaws, Rules and Regulations of USTA EASTERN.

3. The voting strength of each organization referenced in Bylaw V is as follows:

a) Clubs 75 votes plus 10 votes per tennis court maintained at the club with a maximum accumulated vote being 175 votes

b) Community Tennis Association 75 votes

c) Schools 25 votes

d) Parks and Recreation Departments 25 votes

e) Tennis Program Delivery or Tennis Service Organizations 25 votes.

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FLORIDA SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

Rights -

1. Organization Members shall have one (1) delegate and one (1) vote per delegate.  

2. Delegates - Each delegate shall be appointed or elected in accordance with each Organization Member’s policies provided:

a.   Each delegate and the organization the delegate represents shall be a current member of the USTA.

b.   Each delegate must be at least nineteen (19) years of age.

c.   Each delegate may only be a delegate for one Organization Member.

3. Alternate Delegates - An alternate delegate may be named by the Organization Member in the event a registered delegate is unable to serve and must meet the same qualifications of a delegate.

4. Organization Members and delegates are entitled to notice of all meetings of the membership. Delegates are entitled to be present and vote at all meetings of the membership.

5. Individual Members are entitled to be present at all meetings of the membership but shall have no voting rights.

HAWAII PACIFIC SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

Members: The Corporation shall have one class of Members consisting of the following:

a) Clubs: Any private or commercial club, resort, hotel, condominium, apartment complex or homeowner’s association that controls and maintains tennis facilities.

b) Community Tennis Associations: Any multi-purpose, incorporated, geographically defined, not-for-profit, volunteer tennis support organization, which supports or provides comprehensive tennis programs.

c) Schools: Any Elementary or Secondary school, College, University or other educational institution.

d) Parks and Recreation Sites: Any municipal, county or other public entity that fosters tennis activities.

e) Tennis Service Organizations: Any other organization that actively conducts, controls, or supervises tennis activities.

Voting Rights: Each Member shall be entitled to one vote when any matter is submitted to a vote of the membership. No Member may acquire any interest which will entitle it to any greater vote or authority in the Corporation than any other Member. Each Member shall specify in writing to the Corporation the person (or the title of the person) authorized to cast the vote on behalf of such Member. In the event that more than one person claims to be authorized to cast the vote on behalf of a Member and such persons 4/20/2016 are unable to agree among themselves as to how the vote shall be cast, the Member shall lose its right to vote on such matter.

INTERMOUNTAIN SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

VOTING – Provided a quorum is present, all actions must be approved by at least a majority vote of those attending the meeting except for those matters excepted herein. A participant at any meeting must be a member in good standing of the governing body holding the meeting in order to be eligible to vote on any matter. Voting may take place by voice unless the majority of those present request a written ballot or when a written ballot is required herein.

SPECIAL MEETINGS – Special Meetings of the Association may be called by the President, any three or more members of the Board of Directors, or any two (2) District Representatives representing at least one third of the Weighted Vote. The Secretary shall serve proper notice of such a meeting upon all Directors, Districts, Community Tennis Associations, Organizational members and the Executive Director.

MID-ATLANTIC SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

Members have no voting rights.

MIDDLE STATES SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

Members have no voting rights.

MIDWEST SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

The voting strength of each District Association shall be determined based on the calculations of votes for Organization and Individual Members set forth in the Bylaws of the USTA. The votes for each District Association shall be computed as follows

a. Community Tennis Association — 25 votes for each association;

b. Club — 15 votes for each Club plus 5 additional votes for each court within the specified Club except that Clubs with more than 15 courts shall receive 95 votes;

c. School — 1 vote for each school;

d. Park and Recreation Department — 25 votes for each department;

e. Program Delivery or Service Organization and Other Entities — 25 votes for each organization or other entity; f. Senior Individual Member whose domicile is within USTA/Midwest — 1 vote for each member

g. Adult Individual Member whose domicile is within USTA/Midwest — 1 vote for each member; and

h. Junior Individual Member whose domicile is within USTA/Midwest — 1/2 vote for each member.

MISSOURI VALLEY VOTING RIGHTS

Voting. The District Associations are the only voting members at the meetings of the Association. Each District Association shall give written notice to the Secretary of the Association of the individual who shall be authorized to cast its votes. The notice shall certify that the individual has been selected in accordance with the applicable state law and the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation of the District Association. The notice shall be given by the District secretary who was in office at the start of the meeting at which the individual was selected. At the meetings of the Association, each District Association shall have:

• one vote for each adult individual member of the USTA residing within the District Association; Amended: December 3, 2016 (Officials Committee) -3-

• one-half vote for each junior individual member of the USTA residing within the District Association;

• one vote for each Organization Member within the District Association that is a school; and

• one vote for each dollar of dues paid by each Organization Member (other than a school) within the District Association.

NEW ENGLAND SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

Qualification. The membership of the Corporation (hereinafter referred to as “USTA New England”) shall consist of organizations interested in the promotion of tennis, including but not limited to clubs, schools, colleges, recreation and parks associations, community tennis associations, camps, and service organizations. The classification of organizational members shall change automatically whenever the United States Tennis Association, Incorporated, a New York not for profit corporation” (hereinafter referred to as “USTA”) changes its classification of organizational memberships.

1.2 Applications for Memberships. All applications for membership shall be submitted in the proper form to the USTA; membership is subject to the approval of USTA New England.

1.3 Voting Power

(a) The voting power of the various classes of organizational members shall coincide with that set forth in the USTA By-Laws and shall be changed automatically whenever the USTA changes its requirements.

(b) No Member shall vote at the Annual Meeting unless it was a Member by August 31 of the preceding fiscal year.

(c) No Member shall enjoy any of the privileges of membership until its dues are paid.

(d) Representation: At all general meetings of USTA New England as described in these By-Laws, each Member shall be entitled to be represented by one delegate and one alternate.

Action by Vote. When a quorum is present at any meeting, a majority of the votes properly cast by Members present in person or duly represented by proxy shall decide any question, including election to any office, unless otherwise provided by law, the Articles of Organization, or these By-Laws.

NORTHERN SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

Members have no voting rights.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

Voting Strength. The only voting members of NorCal are Organization Members in good standing. To be in good standing, an Organization Member must have met the requirements of Article IV, Section B. Clubs as defined in the Bylaws of the USTA shall have 15 votes plus five votes for each tennis court up to a maximum of 95 votes. Schools, colleges, or universities that do not have permanent tennis court(s) shall have one vote. Schools, colleges, and universities that have permanent tennis court(s) shall have 25 votes. All other Organization Members shall have 25 votes.

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PACIFIC NORTHWEST SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

Members have no voting rights

SOUTHERN SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

VOTING RIGHTS OF THE MEMBERSHIP

1. Voting rights for representation of the membership shall be vested solely in the State Associations, except as provided in Article VII, Section 8.  These rights include election of all members of the Board of Directors, including Officers, three Directors-at-Large, election of a Section Delegate who shall be a member of the Board of Directors, election of members for the Nominating Committee, adoption and amendment of Bylaws, representing the membership on issues of sanctions described in Article II, Section 2, and other issues the Board of Directors may, in its sole discretion, choose to submit to the State Associations.  The strength of these votes shall be determined as of December 31, 2013.

2.  The voting strength of each State Association shall be computed as follows:

a.     Individual Member, Member Clubs and Organizations situated within the State Association:

(1)   Community Tennis Associations – 25 votes for each association;

(2)   Club – 15 votes for each Club plus 5 additional votes for each court within the specified Club except the Clubs with more than 15 courts shall receive 95 votes;

(3)   School – 1 vote for each school;

(4)   Parks and Recreation Department – 25 votes for each department;

(5)   Program Delivery or Service Organization and Other Entities – 25 votes for each organization or other entity.

(6)   Adult Individual Member whose domicile is within the Sectional Association – one vote for each member; and

(7)   Junior Individual Member whose domicile is within the Sectional Association – ½ vote for each member.

b.     The number of votes that is the quotient of the total number of votes that all the State Associations may cast pursuant to clause "a" in this subsection, divided by the total number of State Associations.

c.     The voting strength of each State Association shall be the total of clauses "a" and "b" in this subsection rounded upward to the nearest whole number.

3.   The voting strength of each State Association shall be certified, in writing, to the Secretary of USTA Southern by the Executive Director, prior to each meeting at which a vote is to be taken. The votes under this Article shall be calculated as of the last day of the month for which such figures are available from USTA preceding the USTA Southern Annual Meeting. Such voting strength shall continue in effect until the next USTA Southern Annual Meeting.

4.   A State Delegate for each State shall be named by the State Association and certified by the State Secretary annually to USTA Southern. The State Delegate of each State Association shall be empowered to name one or more proxies to vote on behalf of the State Delegate for the State Delegate’s Association. The vote of a State Association may be split.

5.   State Associations are entitled to notice of all meetings of members of the Association and are entitled to be present at any meeting of members.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

Member Delegates and Voting.

A. Organizational Members. Each Organizational Member shall appoint one individual (the “Organizational Member Delegate”) to serve as the representative of the Organizational Member. Only those Organizational Members who are in full compliance with these Bylaws shall be allowed representation with this Association. Each Organizational Member shall from time to time provide in writing to the Secretary of the Association the name, address, phone number, facsimile number and email address of its Organizational Member Delegate. An Organizational Member shall notify the Secretary of the Association of any changes to such contact information. An Organizational Member Delegate may be an Officer or Director.

B. Individual Members. Individual Members shall have no voting rights.

SOUTHWEST SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

The voting Members of the SWS shall be Organization Members.  Organization Members shall each have one vote.  Individual Members and Honorary Members shall have no vote. 

TEXAS SECTION VOTING RIGHTS

Voting Rights. The Organization Members of the Corporation are the only voting Members of the Corporation and each Organization Member are entitled to one vote on each matter submitted to a vote of the Members or each matter requiring approval of the Members. Individual Members have no right to vote on any matter involving the Corporation.

Toward the end of his article, Rod writes about more clubs self-organizing to have more say vis-a-vis the section's Board decisions: "The purpose would not be to overthrow the decisions of the USTA, but rather create the need for any USTA section to consider tennis facilities issues and points of view.  We can no longer assume, either by plan or be lack of understanding, that a large, mostly volunteer organization that is in constant transition, understands the significance of this relationship, or are even aware of the need to cross-pollinate information and input."

MY OBSERVATIONS

 

- There are 10 sections where organization members have direct voting rights (Eastern, Hawaii Pacific, Midwest, Missouri Valley, New England, Northern California, Southern California, Southwest, Intermountain, and Texas.)

- There are 2 sections where organization members have indirect voting rights through their states/district associations (Caribbean, Southern.)

- There are 4 sections where neither organizations nor individuals have any voting rights (Mid-Atlantic, Middle States, Northern, Pacific Northwest.)

- Only 3 sections allow individual members any voting rights (New England, Intermountain, and Missouri Valley.)

SEVERAL QUESTIONS

1. Are the organizational members of those 10 USTA sections really aware of their direct voting rights?

2. Who decides what matters are submitted for a vote to membership?

3. How can organizational members make sure there will be no meeting of any kind without them being invited?

4. Should organizational members insist on making sure they are always asked to vote when it comes to matters that directly affect their business?

5. How can organizational members make sure they have more rights in case of rogue CEOs or Boards that make decisions detrimental to organization interests?

6. Why are individual, dues-paying members at such a disadvantage when it comes to voting rights?

7. What can be done to give all dues-paying members more power when it comes to decisions affecting their rights?

8. How can dues-paying members affect change in Mid-Atlantic, Middle States, Northern, and Pacific Northwest so they also get the same voting rights as the ones in other sections?

9. How can we make dues-paying members aware that they need to find ways to boost their hidden powers to make sure USTA national and its sections don't forget that growing the game of tennis is their mandate?

Do you think USTA or your section are doing a good job?

If not, owners of clubs and facilities, academies, and similar organizational members of the USTA should really organize locally, go to their section offices and demand answers concerning

- clarity about the Section Bylaws and voting rights

- no-confidence votes for inactive Board members

- guarantees that members are being invited to vote

- assurances that ALL matters will be subject to votes

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying every USTA section does a bad job. On the contrary, most of them doing whatever they can to promote tennis. I'm saying you as organizational members need more say in their decisions. And you need to know how to put a fire under the Board members' behinds to make them act on your behalf.

There is a good chance you'll get a lot of pushback from section officials. Remember how a lot of voters have been demanding term limits in Congress? You and I know it's not going to happen because the very people that are being affected and whose millions of dollars of salaries, bribes, sponsorships, and book deals would disappear, are the ones that would have to vote on it. I was told it is similar at the USTA National level. Board members are jealously protecting their individual fiefdoms working with executives protecting their outrageous salaries and perks without any real oversight. Nice. The perfect racket!

 

I can see why National and Section Bylaws are often so vague and almost deceivingly up for interpretation in order to prevent members from sticking their noses in USTA business. So, even if you get pushback, keep at it.

 

Please share that with me and we'll try to get all this information collected. Together we are stronger!

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