Under Title IV of the LMRDA, international unions must elect officers, either by a direct vote of the members or by a vote of delegates to a convention, at least every five years. Local unions must hold secret ballot elections of officers at least every three years. Any member in good standing is eligible to run for office, subject to reasonable and equitable rules. According to the Department of Labor, meeting attendance rules which “disqualify a large portion of members from candidacy…may be [held by the DOL to be] unreasonable.” (Note: AUD urges any person who has been disqualified by a meeting attendance rule to contact us immediately.)
Candidates are entitled to mail campaign literature, as often as they are financially able, to the union’s entire membership list or to reasonable selected portions of the list, such as members in one company or geographical area. Unions may not abridge this right by restricting it to the time period after nominations. Candidates may inspect the membership list once during a campaign. All members must be allowed to vote, nominate candidates, run for office and campaign without interference or retaliation.
Candidates are entitled to have observers present at each stage of the election process, including literature mailing, balloting, and counting. Union officials cannot use union resources for their campaign. Unions and all employers, not only interested employers, are prohibited from contributing money and resources to any candidate.
Candidates for union office may file suit before the election if their rights to a membership mailing are violated or if the union is discriminating in the use of the membership lists. Pre-election relief in other circumstances is extremely limited.
After the election; protests must first be filed with the union, in a timely manner (check the union constitution for time limits). Your protest must contain all complaints you have about the election. If you have not obtained relief from the union within three months, you must file your complaint within the next month. If you get an answer within the three months, you must file with the DOL within one month of the final decision by the union.
The Department of Labor investigates your charges and decides whether to file a lawsuit on your behalf. The DOL has wide discretion whether or not to sue on your behalf. If the DOL does decide to overturn the election, a candidate has a limited right to intervene in the lawsuit with private counsel. The remedy is usually a federally supervised election.