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OLMS Union Elections Advisor

How to Conduct Union Elections

LMRDA Title IV establishes democratic standards for conducting regular elections of union officers and delegates who elect officers at the intermediate union level and the national, and international union levels. These standards require the use of a secret ballot, reasonable opportunity to nominate candidates and vote, mailed notice of election, and other safeguards to ensure a fair election.

Title IV also provides that the elections of officers be conducted in accordance with the union’s constitution and bylaws as long as they are not inconsistent with the requirements of Title IV. Therefore, it is important that you become familiar with those provisions of your union’s constitution and bylaws that cover the nomination and election of officers, and those provisions that define good standing. Members can get a copy of the constitution and bylaws from local or parent body officers. These documents may also be available on the union’s Web site, or the OLMS Online Public Disclosure Room. You may want to review the OLMS publication Conducting Local Union Officer Elections, A Guide for Election Officials (PDF) which comprehensively discusses the various steps which union election officials should follow when conducting an election of union officers.

For a basic understanding of the requirements of Title IV, you may wish to review some, or all of the sections listed below on conducting a local union officer election which may be pertinent to your situation. Please select one of the sections below (you can return to this page at any time):

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Who May Run for Office
Addresses how unions must apply candidate eligibility requirements, and discusses factors used in determining whether a requirement may be considered reasonable.

Addresses the requirements relating to the nomination notice, and discusses the various procedures unions use in nominating candidates.

Candidates’ Rights
Addresses the rights that must be afforded to candidates including distribution of campaign literature, inspection of the membership list, and the right to have observers.

Use of Union and Employer Funds
Addresses the permissible use of union funds during an election of officers, and the prohibitions placed on unions and employers regarding the support of candidates.

Members’ Right to Vote
Addresses members’ voting rights.

Election Notice
Addresses the time limits unions must follow in providing a mailed notice of election to members, and the different ways this can be accomplished.

Adequate Safeguards
Addresses some of the safeguards unions are required to follow for the preparation of ballots, and treatment of candidates.

Secret Ballot/Polling Place Procedures/Mail Balloting
Addresses the different methods unions may use in electing their officers, and the secret ballot requirement.

Counting Ballots
Addresses the procedures to be followed in counting ballots during an officer election.

Publication of Election Results/Retention of Records
Addresses the publication of election results, and record keeping requirements.

OLMS Union Elections Advisor/Office of Labor-Management Standards