Strategic Alliance Proposes Non-Membership-Based ACGIH

TORONTO--The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the IH community's two largest membership-based groups, announced a strategic alliance that would in part make ACGIH solely a scientific-oriented, non-membership-based organization. The groups made the announcement at AIHce 2009, the largest annual gathering for industrial hygienists, now celebrating its 70th anniversary in Toronto.

The proposed alliance was announced at Monday's Opening General Session by AIHA President Lindsay E. Booher, CIH, CSP, and ACGIH Chair Jimmy L. Perkins, Ph.D., CIH. A press release from the groups issued Monday emphasized that the two groups are not proposing a merger nor a move toward unification; rather, the release said, the "proposed alliance is an opportunity for ACGIH and AIHA to do what each organization does best while cooperating more closely than ever before."

If approved by both boards of directors and the ACGIH membership, the alliance will result in a sustainable member organization and a scientific-oriented organization, the press release said. Under the proposal, AIHA would administer a single, U.S. IH membership organization, and ACGIH would autonomously focus on practice standards and guidelines. Both organizations would share services that will manage costs, drive efficiencies, and avoid duplication of efforts.

"We do not see this as a step to a full merger or unification," Booher said. "In fact, this strategic alliance provides both ACGIH and AIHA with appropriate autonomy while simultaneously giving us the opportunity to share resources."

Perkins agreed. "We believe that today, more than ever, ACGIH and AIHA must do more to work in a more strategic manner in order to ensure that our resources are utilized to the greatest degree possible," he said. "This will ensure the future success of industrial hygiene."

The ACGIH and AIHA boards approved a Summary of Principles for the Strategic Alliance on Sunday, May 31. They agreed that forming a strategic alliance that builds on the strengths of both organizations is the key to their long-term success. The boards have appointed representatives to work with the chief staff officers to further plan implementation of the alliance terms. These representatives will report back to the boards in the fall of 2009.

In the meantime, the groups are putting various communications vehicles in place to seek input from the memberships of both ACGIH and AIHA, including a specific Web site devoted to the proposal (www.acgihaihaalliance.org), as well as "town hall" style meetings by conference call, blogging, podcasting, possible articles, and an "Ask the Leadership" session on Tuesday, June 2, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, room 705 South. The groups say that if their work this summer is successful, an ACGIH member vote would occur in the fall of 2009. The organizations hope to begin implementing changes in 2010.

"We anticipate conducting due diligence this summer," Perkins said. "Assuming this due diligence reflects appropriate economic, legal, and strategic alignment, it is ACGIH's intent to put forth to its members a vote to shift the nature of the ACGIH structure. This action requires a two-thirds vote of the ACGIH regular members in order to pass and take effect. There is no vote required of the AIHA membership, as there is no substantial change anticipated in its mission, vision, structure, or governance."

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