Does your union notify members of their democratic rights?

Unions covered by the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) are required to notify members of their rights under the law. Section 105 of the LMRDA states:

  • “Every labor organization shall inform its members concerning the provisions of this Act.”

When the LMRDA was first adopted in 1959, a few unions — very few — took a limited one-time step to comply. Forty years pass. An old generation of unionists is replaced by a new one. Unions ignore the law. With one minor exception, there is no compliance until September 2000 when two machinists are successful in their federal lawsuit to compel their union to comply. (Click here for link to UDR article on the Thomas v. IAM case.)

Federal Employees too On May 24, 2006, the U.S. Labor Department issued a regulation that requires all unions of federal employees to inform their members of the provision of federal law that protects their rights in their unions to fair elections, free speech, due process in trials, responsible administration of union finances, and other elements of fair play. The DOL action came in response to a petition submitted by the Association for Union Democracy. The full text of the regulation follows:

  • § 458.4 Informing members of the standards of conduct provisions.
    (a) Every labor organization subject to the requirements of the CSRA, the FSA, or the CAA shall inform its members concerning the standards of conduct provisions of the Acts and the regulations in this subchapter. Labor organizations shall provide such notice to members by October 2, 2006 and thereafter to all new members within 90 days of the time they join and to all members at least once every three years. Notice must be provided by hand delivery, U.S. mail or e-mail or a combination of the three as long as the method is reasonably calculated to reach all members. Such notice may be included with the required notice of local union elections. Where a union newspaper is used to provide notice, the notice must be conspicuously placed on the front page of the newspaper, or the front page should have a conspicuous reference to the inside page where the notice appears, so that the inclusion of the notice in a particular issue is readily apparent to each member.
  • (b) A labor organization may demonstrate compliance with the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section by showing that another labor organization provided an appropriate notice to all of its members during the necessary time frame.
  • (c) Labor organizations may use the Department of Labor publication Union Member Rights and Officer Responsibilities under the Civil Service Reform Act (available on the OLMS Web site athttp://www.dol.gov/olms/regs/compliance/CSRAFactSheet.htm) or may devise their own language as long as the notice accurately states all of the CSRA standards of conduct provisions as set forth in the fact sheet.
  • (d) If a labor organization has a Web site, the site must contain a conspicuous link to Union Member Rights and Officer Responsibilities under the Civil Service Reform Act or, alternatively, to the labor organization’s own notice prepared in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section.
    Signed at Washington, DC, this 24th day of May 2006. Victoria A. Lipnic, Assistant Secretary for Employment Standards. Signed at Washington, DC, this 24th day of May 2006. Don Todd, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Labor-Management Programs.

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