U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Nov 30, 2022
Under the provisions of section 401(e), every member in good standing is entitled to vote in elections required under title IV which are to be held by secret ballot. The phrase “member in good standing” includes any person who has fulfilled the requirements for membership and who neither has withdrawn from membership nor has been expelled or suspended from membership after appropriate proceedings consistent with lawful provisions of the constitution and bylaws of the organization.
The basic right of members to vote in elections of the labor organization may be qualified by reasonable rules and regulations in its constitution and bylaws.
A labor organization may condition the exercise of the right to vote upon the payment of dues, which is a basic obligation of membership. Such a rule must be applied uniformly. If a member has not paid his dues as required by the labor organization's constitution or bylaws he may not be allowed to vote. Thus, a rule which suspends a member's right to vote in an election of officers while the member is laid off and is not paying dues would not, in ordinary circumstances, be considered unreasonable, so long as it is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner. However, members must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to pay dues, including a grace period during which dues may be paid without any loss of rights. In the case where a member is laid off but desires to maintain his good standing and thus his membership rights by continuing to pay dues, it would be clearly unreasonable for the labor organization to refuse to accept his payment.
A member in good standing whose dues are checked off by his employer pursuant to his voluntary authorization provided for in a collective bargaining agreement may not be disqualified from voting by reason of alleged delay or default in the payment of dues. For example, the constitution and bylaws of a labor organization call for suspension of members whose dues are three months in arrears. Dues to be paid directly by a member are two months in arrears when the union changes to a checkoff system. The member may not be denied the right to vote merely because the employer is late in submitting the checked off dues for the first month. It would not be inconsistent with the Act, however, for a union to require a new member who executes a checkoff authorization to pay one month's dues in advance on the date he becomes a member in order to be in good standing for the current month.
While it is permissible for a labor organization to deny the right to vote to those delinquent in paying their dues (with the exceptions noted) or to those who have been suspended or disciplined in accordance with section 101(a)(5) of the Act, a provision under which such persons are disqualified from voting for an extended period of time after payment of back dues or after reinstatement would not be considered reasonable. After a member has resumed his good-standing status, it would be unreasonable to continue to deprive him of his right to vote for a period longer than that for a new member. A new member may reasonably be required to establish a relationship with the union by remaining in good standing for a continuous period of time, e.g., 6 months or a year, before being permitted to vote in an election of officers. However, while the right to vote may be deferred within reasonable limits, a union may not create special classes of nonvoting members.
A labor organization may condition the right to vote upon completion of a bona fide program of apprenticeship training which is designed to produce competent tradesmen in the industry the union serves.
A decision about the voting rights of visiting members is properly one for resolution by the union in accordance with the organization's constitution and bylaws or applicable resolutions. For purposes of the Act, a person is ordinarily considered to be a member of the local to which he pays his dues.
Voting in union elections by employers, self-employed persons, supervisors or other persons who are considered to be part of management is not precluded by title IV of the Act even if they are not required to maintain union membership as a condition of employment. However, as mentioned in the discussion of qualifications for candidacy (see § 452.47), such persons may not dominate or interfere with the administration of any labor organization.
Members who are otherwise qualified to vote may not be disqualified from voting merely because they are currently unemployed or are employed on a part-time basis in the industry served by the union, provided, of course, that such members are paying dues.
The right of retirees to vote may be restricted to the extent provided by the constitution and bylaws of the labor organization.
The statutory protection of the right to vote implies that there must be a reasonable opportunity to vote. Thus, there is an obligation on the labor organization to conduct its periodic election of officers in such a way as to afford all its members a reasonable opportunity to cast ballots. A union may meet this obligation in a variety of ways, depending on factors such as the distance between the members' work site or homes and the polling place, the means of transportation available, the nature of the members' occupations, and their hours of work. A reasonable opportunity to vote may require establishing multiple polling places or the use of a mail ballot referendum when the members are widely dispersed. It would also be reasonable for the time period for voting to be extended to accommodate members who might otherwise be prevented from voting due to conflicting work schedules. Shortening the voting period by a late opening of the polls would not, in itself, be improper unless the intent or practical effect of such action is to deprive members of their right to vote.
Where the union knows in advance that a substantial number or a particular segment of the members will not be able to exercise their right to vote in person, as, for example, when access to a polling place is impracticable for many members because of shipping assignments, absentee ballots or other means of voting must be made available.