Understanding union member rights

There are many benefits to joining a union. Workers in New York and elsewhere understand what a union stands for, but they many not fully understand how far their rights extend. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act afford union members certain rights. This Act also imposes responsibilities on union officers. Additionally, this Act provides workers with specific union member rights.

Commonly referred to as union member's Bill of Rights, this document enumerates specific protections for unionized employees. More specifically, the Bill of Rights includes the equal right to participate in all union activities, the freedom of speech and assembly, a voice in setting rates of dues, fees and assessments, protection of the right to sue, and safeguards against improper discipline.

When a worker joins a union, he or she is given a copy of a collective bargaining agreement. Union members have the right to receive and inspect copies of these agreements. Additionally, unions are required to file various reports, including an initial information report, copies of constitutions and bylaws, and annual financial reports. These reports have to be available to members, and unions must permit members the time to examine supporting documents for just cause.

With regards to officer elections, union members have a variety of rights. This includes the right to nominate candidates for office, run for office, cast a secret ballot, and protest the conduct of an election. Other rights of union members include officer removal, trusteeships, prohibition against certain disciplines, and prohibition against violence.

There are many benefits to joining a union. However, union members should ensure that their rights are protected. Those dealing with this or any other labor law issue should speak with a labor law attorney so they can better understand their options.

Source: FindLaw, "Union Member Rights and Officer Responsibilities," accessed April 9, 2017

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