20. What is the “Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act”?
The Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, was passed to provide greater protections to individual union members. The prominent provisions of the LMRDA are as follows:
• Section 101(a)(1) – This provision allows union members the right to vote for union representatives, to nominate candidates, and to take part in union meetings. These rights are “subject to reasonable rules and regulations in such organization’s constitution and bylaws.” Depending upon what the union constitution provides for member rights, general members must have equal rights. If, however, the constitution withholds specific authority to a group or board of individuals, the Act does not grant this right or authority to all members.
• Section 101(a)(2) – This provision protects the right of each member to meet with or assemble with any other or all members of the union. It also protects freedom of expression (including criticism or dissension) with regard to union activity.
• Section 101(a)(3) – This provision protects union members from being subject to raises in union dues without first going through established procedures.
• Section 101(a)(4) – This provision protects union members from retribution or discharge for bringing suit against the union or any of its members. The member must generally follow any internal or administrative procedures in place to resolve union disputes prior to filing suit.
• Section 101(a)(5) – This provision provides due process rights for union members in disciplinary actions. Except for instances of non-payment of dues, members cannot be subject to disciplinary action by the union without being given notice of the charged misconduct, a reasonable time to prepare for the proceeding, and a formal hearing before the union’s board or adjudicative body.
• Title IV – Title IV of the Act places requirements on union elections. Similar to corporate board procedures, it allows candidates for election the right to inspect certain documents, to obtain membership lists, and the right to campaign or advertise equally in union newsletters. Failure to follow these rules can cause the DOL to invalidate an election.
• Title V – Title V of the Act places fiduciary standards upon union officers. Particularly, officers must avoid self-interested transactions at the expense of the union and report any dealings (such as financial expenditures) to the members.
The LMRA allows union members to bring an action in federal court for any violations of these provisions. This is subject to any requirements in the constitution to first pursue administrative remedies for disputes.
• Discussion: What do you think was the Federal Government’s purpose in passing greater protections for individual union members as against the union organization? Do you think these provisions are warranted or effective? Can you think of any other protections that union members should be afforded as part of their union membership?
• Practice Question: William is an employee of ABC Corp and a member of the worker’s union. He has been very outspoken against the union’s stance on new hiring salaries. William believes that the salary system should be more tiered in favor of experienced employees as apposed to affording new employees such extensive benefits. Is William protected if the union (or its members) takes any negative actions against him for his position?