Local Union Elections
(This article first appeared in the September/October 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell
It starts with the process for nominations. One of the ways to alleviate and hopefully prevent complaints, Local Election Committee (LEC) and National Election Appeals Committee (NEAC) appeals, and Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) investigations, is for local affiliates to ensure elections are conducted in accordance with Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines.
The first and most important step in any democratic election process is the nomination of candidates for office. The Labor Management and Disclosure Act requires that union members must be given reasonable opportunity to nominate candidates. Nomination procedures must follow the provisions of the union’s constitution and bylaws and DOL requirements.
Article 12 sec. 8 of the National APWU Constitution and Bylaws requires each local union, area local, regional and state organization to establish an election committee. No member of this committee can be a candidate for the election. The election committee shall be responsible for the conduct of the elections and shall decide all controversies arising out of the election process.
The election committee is required to notify union members of nominations which can be achieved by various acceptable methods and ensures the committee made a reasonable attempt to notify all members of nominations and elections. The preferable and recommended method is for the election committee to mail the nomination and election notice to each member at the last known address. Publishing the notice in the union newsletter (in a conspicuous place and must be given a prominent position), posting or distributing notices at the work sites are also some methods that can be utilized. Nomination notice – unlike an election notice – does not have to be given at least 15 days before nominations but must be in accordance with any requirements in the local or state union’s constitution and bylaws and allow enough time for members to have a reasonable opportunity to nominate candidates of their choice.
The nomination notice should specify the offices to be filled in the election and state which officers are a delegate to the national convention by virtue of election to office. It should also include the date, time, place, and method for submitting nominations, including details such as whether a nomination must be seconded. Verification of membership in good standing will need to be done for the member who seconds the nomination at the meeting. If nominations are conducted at a meeting, a quorum requirement may not be imposed. However, the meeting must be held at a date, time, and place that allows members a reasonable opportunity to attend.
Nominations at the regularly scheduled membership meeting would satisfy this requirement. When candidates nominate themselves, their acceptance of nomination is considered automatic. The election committee should have provisions for candidates who are nominated for more than one position but can only run for one office in accordance with the local or state union’s constitution and bylaws. Candidates should be able to accept or decline at the nomination meeting or a reasonable period of time established to receive the acceptance of a nomination if they were nominated at the meeting but were not present at the meeting.
If the election notice was not included with the nomination notice (which is recommended), the election notice is required to be mailed separately at least 15 days prior to the election to each member, including non-working members, at the last known address. The election notice must specify the date, time and place of the election, as well as the offices to be filled.
A successful election builds upon a foundation of a procedurally correct nomination process. A strong foundation always saves the local time and money on election appeals and subsequent re-run of elections.
The Secretary-Treasurer’s Department is available to provide assistance and training for local officers and election committee members. ■