Union Members' Rights
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 04, 2018
Union Members' Rights Overview
You finally got that union job you've been waiting for. Full benefits and a chance to have a voice in protecting your pension. So, what are the perks of joining a union? For one, if you are having a problem with your employer, union representatives can provide advice, support and representation. You can also look forward to medical insurance, paid vacation, holidays, personal holidays, sick pay, overtime premiums, and shift differentials, to say the least. And let's not forget all the addendum benefits such as enhanced training opportunities and even some specialized insurance deals.
Follow along as FindLaw takes you through the basics of union members' rights including what specific law guarantees union rights, union member and officer responsibilities, and much more.
Landrum-Griffin Act: Regulating the Rights and Responsibilities of Labor
The Landrum-Griffin Act is a key measure that was passed in 1959 as a way to protect unoin members. Also known as the the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), the Act guarantees certain rights to union members and imposes certain responsibilities on union officers. There are over 60 national and international unions operating in both the U.S. and Canada.
Bill of Rights
Under the above-mentioned law, union members have a series of tools which are important to know and can also help in holding your union officials accountable. This "Bill of Rights" grants members several rights:
Union members have:
- equal rights to participate in union activities
- freedom of speech and assembly
- voice in setting rates of dues, fees, and assessments
- protection of the right to sue
- safeguards against improper discipline
Right to Receive Copies: Collective Bargaining Agreements
A Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) happens when workers make a deal with management on the key terms and conditions of employment. The result is a CBA. Union members and non-union employees have the right to receive or inspect copies of collective bargaining agreements. Unions are also required to file reports, constitutions and bylaws, and an annual financial reports.
Another important aspect of union member rights is to have a say in officer elections. Title IV of the Landrum-Griffin Act spells out the rules and procedures for union elections which must occur every three years.
Union members have the right to:
- nominate candidates for office
- run for office
- cast a secret ballot
- protest the conduct of an election
What happens if these rules aren't followed? The Office of Labor-Management Standards handles civil and criminal investigations into election fraud and other violations of the Landrum-Griffin Act.
Other rights union member have include officer removal for elected officers found guilty of serious misconduct.
Union Officer Responsibilities
Being a union officer comes with an array of responsibilities to your members. These duties include:
- Financial Safeguards: Such as fiscal responsibility and managing the funds and property of the union solely for the benefit of the union and its members in accordance with the union's constitution and bylaws.
- Bonding: If your union funds or property exceed $5,000, a union officer or employee who handles those funds must be fully bonded to protect from loss.
- Reporting: Union officers must file an initial information report and annual financial reports. Additionally, the report records must be maintained for a minimum of five years.
Union Members' Rights: Additional Resources
Maybe you still have questions about union members' rights after reading this article. You can continue your inquiry by researching this topic using the links we have compiled below.
Learn More About Your Rights as a Union Member: Talk to an Attorney
The concept of union members' rights can get tricky. If you're a member of a labor organization and have questions about your rights, you don't have to wade through a bunch of bylaws, regulations, and rules. Consider getting your labor law questions answered today by contacting a local labor law attorney.
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