The Committee on Membership Affairs (MAC) is a standing committee of the ACS Council that is assigned to promote membership recruitment and retention in ACS while ensuring that present members receive membership benefits and services at the highest levels possible. Part of this involves proposing and maintaining the bylaws for categories of membership and dues for the society. One of these categories is “unemployed.” In times of unemployment, a member may contact the national office and request a waiver of their dues while they are looking for work. Currently, the bylaws of the society allow the member to have dues waived for up to two years.
During periods of economic dislocation such as the Great Recession and the globalization of the chemical industry, a person’s job search may take a lot of time. The Committee on Economic & Professional Affairs (CEPA) suggested that ACS’s bylaws be changed to allow unemployed members of the society to remain as members without paying dues for a period of up to three years.
In 2015, MAC examined this proposal and prepared a market data study in which unemployed members were informed that they could request a third-year dues waiver. As a result, MAC obtained the below data:
Consecutive years unemployed
One year of unemployment: 882
Two years of unemployment: 331
Three years of unemployment: 179
Expanding this benefit to a third year prevented 179 members from being removed from membership in the society. Although this is only a small portion of membership, MAC considers this to be a worthwhile change to the bylaws because it is “the right thing to do” for the members.
As a result, MAC has prepared a petition to amend the ACS bylaws to make this a permanent change. This petition will be presented to the ACS Council at the ACS national meeting in Philadelphia in August. Please let your local section and division councilors know if you are also in favor of this change.It is not surprising that there are a very small number of unemployed members, compared to the number of domestic ACS members (80,000 or so.) I presume that many unemployed chemists do not bother to apply for a waiver and simply leave the ACS, so it's hard to imagine that they are included in these counts.
I favor keeping unemployed members within the Society, and helping them to find fulfilling work. Towards that end, I will be contacting my local section and divisional councilors, and I hope you will too.