Internal Union Rights
Let’s take a look at the rights that you have, as a union member, to participate in the democratic workings of the collective bargaining representative. The primary law setting forth your legal rights to participate in your union grows out of a federal statute passed in 1959, known as the Landrum-Griffin Act.
Let’s take a look at the rights that you have, as a union member, to participate in the democratic workings of the collective bargaining representative. The primary law setting forth your legal rights to participate in your union grows out of a federal statute passed in 1959, known as the Landrum-Griffin Act. Specifically, the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), administered by the US Department of Labor, covers unions with members in the private sector. (If your union represents both public and private sector workers, this law may apply to you, as it will if you are a U.S. Postal Service employee.)
The LMRDA’s “Bill of Rights of Members of Labor Organizations” contains an “equal rights” provision, guaranteeing all union members the right to nominate candidates for union office, to vote in union elections, and to attend and participate in union meetings. While the federal law does not require labor organizations to hold meetings, it does say that when meetings are held you have the right to participate fully. The labor “Bill of Rights” also guarantees “freedom of speech and assembly.”
The law does say that unions are allowed to have “reasonable rules” regarding how they run their affairs. But you, the union member, have a guaranteed right to have and to express your viewpoints on the union and those who lead and participate in it, even if those viewpoints are critical or negative ones.
-- Adapted from The Union Members Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer
And for a hard-hitting how-to book, check out Democracy is Power, written for rank-and-file activists and local officers who believe unions would perform better if the members were truly involved in making the big decisions. Authors Mike Parker and Martha Gruelle give step-by-step counsel on how members can become active participants in determining the direction and leadership of their unions. In the UCS bookstore now.