Union leaders are the people that directly negotiate contracts and secure employee standing with management. The ideal union leader works toward the best possible contracts and rights for you and your coworkers. Most labor unions use a democratic process to determine leadership, and while that seems straightforward and simple, it is not.
Nominations, constitutions, bylaws,
As we mentioned in a previous post, unions are constantly under threat by management and get a great deal of bad publicity when things aren’t perfect. Fully transparent elections take the wind right out of the sails of bad actors. This calls for:
- Clear and complete election rules: Is the election head-to-head or is it a ranked-choice election. How do new candidates get on the ballot? Election rules will clearly define all of these questions and many more.
- A union constitution: much like the US constitution outlines how the use and distribution of power, your union constitution will do the same here. It will define who leads, for how long, and what their powers are.
- A public nomination process: Nominations can require a number of signatures from fellow union members or simply a declaration. Those will depend on the basic election rules and also the constitution.
As Americans, we live in a democracy, but we may take many of the nuts-and-bolts parts of democracy for granted. Most of us know about democratic processes, but we don’t generally have to get involved if we don’t want to. Union members are all direct and immediate stakeholders in the success and vitality of the union, and for the sake of the union’s future, all electoral processes must be transparent.
How important is your union election?
Your union election should be as important to you as any other election because the right leader for your union will protect your job for the future.