Pointers on Getting Local Resolutions Passed


Every community is different. You may find a local council advocate who will gladly see that such a resolution is put on the council agenda and have it supported by a majority of council members. In this case you may get a resolution passed with little outside organizing necessary; otherwise you may need to do some substantial organizing. Even if you feel fairly confident, remember that this is an important educational opportunity to reach out to the larger community. So whether you win or lose the actual vote, your campaign will pay off. Here are some pointers that can help along the way.

1. Put packets of educational materials together that explain the issues and why a resolution is necessary. The booklet "In Whose Service? GATS and the FTAA" is good to include. Also include resolutions passed by the National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Attorneys General available from this website.

2. Seek out a sympathetic member of the city council who would be willing to work with you in developing an appropriate resolution and could help you develop a broader strategy for reaching other council members.

3. To strengthen your case, look into your local laws that could be impacted by the FTAA, GATS or the new issues the WTO wants to have negotiated covering investment, competition and government procurement. Areas to look into include local economic development, environment, labor, land use, and subsidies that support local business and/or special groups such as handicapped or minorities.

4. Work in coalition with other groups to show a broad base of support for your effort. Reach out to local churches, unions, local businesses and civic/good government, environmental, human rights and women's organizations.

National organizations with local chapters/affiliates which have expressed concern about these agreements include the Women's Division of the United Methodist Church, the AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America, the Sierra Club, Women's International League for Peace and Freeedom, and Catholic peace and justice organizations.

Be sure to be in touch with local businesses so they hear first from you about the ways these trade agreements could impact them. You will need them as allies when you go to the city council.

5. Draft a resolution for the city council taking into account local concerns you have identified. Use the model resolutions on this website as a guide, as well as resolutions posted here that have been passed already or are under consideration by other local governments.

6. If you are not sure you have the votes, launch a public education campaign. Letters to the Editor, Op-Ed pieces and local news stories about the coalition which has formed can all be part of the campaign.

7. Keep the local press informed every step of the way by sending out media advisories and keeping in personal communication with any reporters who have shown special interest in the issue. You may also want to set up a meeting with the editor or editorial board of your local paper, community television, or other media outlets.

8. After several weeks of community education, focus on getting the resolution introduced, follow local procedures for introducing the resolution to the city council for consideration and vote.

9. Make individual appointments with the city manager if you have one, the mayor, other council members to give them educational packets, outline the issue for them and answer any questions. Then before your resolution is scheduled for a vote call each of them back to be sure they understand the issue and have all their questions answered before the hearing.

10. When the resolution is on the agenda, you will need a spokesperson to make the presentation to the council. It is a good idea to have local experts available who are well respected in the community . There may be opposing views expressed, so be well-prepared to refute remarks from the opposition. Be clear and factual, rather than relying on an emotional appeal. This can be an important community outreach as well since in many communities council meetings are televised.

11. When the resolution passes, hold a press conference with key members of your coalition and ask city council supporters to speak.

12. Write letters of thanks to all those who helped you along the way.

13. And be sure to let us know as soon as a resolution is passed! Send us a copy so we can post it on this website and others can use it in their campaigns.

Get in touch with the Alliance's Campaign on Corporate Globalization/Positive Alternatives if you would like more assistance. Ruth Caplan and Dave Lewit