Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Union Member Rights and Officer Responsibilities

The Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) safeguards workers' rights throughout the United States. The federal law is commonly called the Landrum-Griffin Act. It mandates transparency and democratic practices within labor unions.

The Landrum-Griffin Act grants specific rights to union members and imposes responsibilities on union officers. The law also establishes a code of conduct for unions, union officers, and employers based on equitable treatment and fair practices.

Read on to learn about your rights under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.


Private sector unions and U.S. Postal Service unions must follow this law.

The Civil Service Reform Act covers Unions representing federal employees.

Unions that only represent public employees, such as city, state, and county workers, are not covered by either of these laws. State statutes regulate public sector collective bargaining.


The Landrum-Griffin Act was enacted in 1959 following a congressional investigation into union racketeering and corruption. It became law to correct these problems.

The law establishes:

  • A bill of rights for union members
  • Safeguards for protecting labor organization funds and assets
  • Standards for the election of union officers
  • Reporting requirements for labor organizations and union officers

Union Member Rights

The law grants union members a voice in how their unions operate. This is called their bill of rights. These employee rights include:

  • The right to freedom of speech and assembly. This means union members can express their opinions and discuss union matters without fear of punishment.
  • Union members can participate in union elections. This allows them to vote for union leaders and representatives who best represent their interests.
  • Union members have a voice in setting dues, fees, and assessments.
  • Union members and nonunion employees have the right to receive copies of collective bargaining agreements.
  • Safeguards against improper discipline.

Moreover, the LMRDA ensures that union elections are conducted fairly. It prohibits things like bribery or coercion to influence election outcomes.

Union Officer Responsibilities

Union officers play an important role in ensuring union operations are fair and transparent. Here's a breakdown of their responsibilities under the LMRDA:

  • Financial Safeguards: Union officers manage union funds and property. They must use them only to benefit the union and its members. They must follow the union's constitution and bylaws. Misusing or stealing union funds is a federal crime, punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.
  • Bonding: Officers handling union funds or property must be bonded. This protects against losses, especially if the union's annual receipts are more than $5,000 a year.
  • Reporting: Union officers must file initial and annual financial reports with the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). They must also report any loans or benefits received from employers.
  • Elections of Officers: Unions must hold officer elections by secret ballot at least every three years. They must allow election observers. They must give candidates a chance to inspect the union's membership list.
  • Restrictions on Holding Office: People convicted of certain crimes may be barred from serving as union officers or representatives. The ban can last for up to 13 years.
  • Loans: Loans are limited. Unions cannot have loans over $2,000 to any one officer or employee at any time.
  • Fines: Unions can't pay fines for officers or employees convicted of willful LMRDA violations.


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), a federal agency, enforces the Landrum-Griffin Act. The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), is a division of the DOL that enforces many LMRDA provisions.

Unions must file information reports, a copy of their constitution and bylaws, and an annual financial report with OLMS. The reports are public information. OLMS also conducts civil and criminal investigations into election fraud and other breaches of the Landrum-Griffin Act.

Union members enforce their rights under the law through private lawsuits in the federal courts.

Union Members' Rights: Additional Information

There are other laws that govern unions. In many instances, they protect concerted activities.

  • The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA): It's commonly called the Wagner Act. The NLRA protects the rights of employees to organize and bargain collectively with their employers. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) enforces the NLRA.
  • The Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA): It's also known as the Taft-Hartley Act. It allows union members to collectively bargain with employers. It increased the list of unfair labor practices and requires unions to negotiate in good faith.

State Law

According to the NLRB, 27 states have banned union agreements. This means that in states with right-to-work laws, each employee can decide whether to join the union. However, a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement still protects all workers.

Learn More About Union Member Rights and Officer Responsibilities From an Attorney

As a union member, you're guaranteed certain rights. Similarly, if you're an officer of a union, you have certain responsibilities. Learn more about union member rights and officer responsibilities. Contact a skilled labor and employment lawyer near you.

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps

Contact a qualified employment attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select
Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options