Membership Dues Lawsuit
February 27, 2020
Dear Council Colleagues,
I appreciate the opportunity to address the petition written by GSUSA and circulated by your CAN group this week to involve you and your council in what is a legal matter between Farthest North Council and GSUSA. Please understand our council has worked tirelessly to keep these proceedings private and internal, to negotiate a settlement through mutual compromise before and during this lawsuit, and to keep focused on elevating the democratic process as the desired outcome. We ask that you read our letter carefully to better understand our position as you consider this petition.
The form letter GSUSA has prepared and that you have been asked to sign affirms our organization’s strong democratic process. This is good news because the Girl Scout Constitution is written precisely to elevate the democratic process and that is exactly what is on trial in Alaska. Please ask yourselves why GSUSA has not brought the dues issue to the floor of the National Council Session until now, only after a directive from the court. The National Council is our democratic process and our council has been asking GSUSA to bring the matter before the National Council since 2012. Our lawsuit seeks acknowledgment of our democratic process—the democratic process GSUSA says it’s committed to in the petition. Yet, through its closed-door sessions to elicit your aid, GSUSA is actively avoiding the democratic process. We ask you to give serious consideration before lending your support to this very undemocratic interference in a pending lawsuit.
Finally, we caution you to recognize the compromised position into which GSUSA is urging you to place yourselves and your councils. A state supreme court has ruled that GSUSA’s conduct is unauthorized—that it is not lawful. GSUSA is asking you to move from outside observer to active participant in this unauthorized activity. That is asking a lot of you. One part of our lawsuit arises specifically out of the serious breach of fiduciary duty that we were being forced to engage in by GSUSA. We and our board concluded that by participating in GSUSA’s unauthorized dues collections we were breaching the fiduciary duty owed to our members and exposing ourselves to claims of breach of fiduciary duty by our members. This is a consideration you and your own boards will also want to seriously evaluate.
I urge you to contact me if you have any questions. I welcome conversation with each of you. Further, please visit the landing page on our website at www.fairbanksgirlscout.org to access all pre-lawsuit internal communications in addition to all public legal documents in our case.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
Suellen Nelles, CEO
- Verified Complaint – Start of Lawsuit, Plus Pre-Lawsuit Communications on Pages 33-42 (2/14/2017)
- Farthest North’s Objection to 2012 Dues Increase – Page 4 (9/26/2017)
- Farthest North’s Appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court (10/17/2018)
- GSUSA’s Appeal Response (12/19/2018)
- Farthest North’s Reply to GSUSA’s Response (1/28/2019)
- Alaska Supreme Court Decision (9/13/2019)