Landrum-Griffin Act Overview
Whether you work for a small business, run your own company, or are employed by the government, you probably have an opinion about unions. You might think they improve the lives of working people, or believe that they hinder economic growth. Because of varying yet fervent views like these, there is no shortage of laws that regulate the rights and responsibilities of labor organizations. One such law is the Landrum-Griffin Act, described in more detail below.
Purpose of the Landrum-Griffin Act
The Landrum-Griffin Act, also known as the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), was originally enacted in 1959 to protect employees’ rights to organize, bargain collectively, and select their own representatives. According to congressional investigations, there had been instances of corruption, racketeering, and other wrongdoing by the labor movement. The Landrum-Griffin Act sought to prevent such improper practices by labor organizations, employers, and others by establishing a Bill of Rights for union members, implementing reporting and disclosure requirements, and creating standards for the election of officers of labor organizations, among other rules and procedures.
The Landrum-Griffin Act and Rights of Members of Labor Organizations
Title I of the Landrum-Griffin Act details a Bill of Rights for members of labor organizations. The five rights enumerated are the following:
- Equal Rights: Every member of a labor organization has equal rights to nominate candidates, vote in elections, and attend and participate in membership meetings.
- Freedom of Speech and Assembly: Every member has the right to meet and assemble freely with other members, and to express views to others and at meetings of the labor organization.
- Dues, Fees, and Assessments: Provides rules for setting rates of dues and fees.
- Protection of the Right to Sue: No labor organization may limit the right of a member to bring a lawsuit, although members may be required to exhaust internal procedures first.
- Safeguards Against Improper Disciplinary Action: No member may be fined, suspended, expelled, or otherwise disciplined except for nonpayment of dues, unless the member has been served with specific charges, given reasonable time to prepare a defense, and afforded a full and fair hearing.
Any member whose rights have been violated can bring a civil action in a district court for damages, including injunctive relief.
Reporting Requirements Under the Landrum-Griffin Act
The Landrum-Griffin Act also spells out administrative and financial reporting requirements for employers, labor organizations, and their officers and employees. For example, labor organizations must report their assets and liabilities, salaries of officers, and any loans made to employees, members, or businesses. Officers and some employees of labor organizations must report certain stocks and other interests in businesses with specified relationships to labor organizations. And most employers are required to report payments or loans made to labor organizations, as well as payments made to employees regarding a labor dispute or their rights to organize and bargain collectively.
The Landrum-Griffin Act and Union Elections
To guard against corruption and protect members’ rights to elect their union representatives, Title IV of the Landrum-Griffin Act specifies rules and procedures for union elections. These rules include the following:
- Every national or international labor organization (except federations of those organizations) must elect its officers at least once every five years by secret ballot of members in good standing or delegates chosen by secret ballot.
- Every local labor organization must elect its officers at least once every three years by secret ballot among members in good standing.
- Labor organization must not discriminate between candidates for office within the organization with regard to the dissemination of campaign materials and availability of member lists.
- Money received by a labor organization through dues and other similar fees, as well as money from an employer, may not be used to promote the candidacy of any person in an election.
- Ballots and records pertaining to the election must be preserved for at least one year.
The Office of Labor-Management Standards, a division of the Department of Labor, handles civil and criminal investigations into election fraud and other violations of the Landrum-Griffin Act.
Protect Your Labor Rights with the Help of an Attorney
Given the sheer number of rules and regulations, labor law can be complicated. But the rights and practices protected by these laws can have a big impact on your life and career. Whether your rights are in jeopardy, or you’re attempting to comply with laws like the Landrum-Griffin Act, get help from a local labor law attorney today.