The Office of Labor Management Standards (“OLMS”) has issued its Advisory on Union Officer Elections and Public Disclosure Reporting in Areas Affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). OLMS generally does not have jurisdiction over a local or international union that has purely public sector workers. Here is a summary of the Advisory:
The LMRDA requires international officer elections every five years or less, local officer elections every three years or less, and intermediate bodies every four years or less. In many cases union elections cannot be conducted in a safe manner during the pandemic. Therefore, if OLMS received a complaint regarding a union holding an election late and the election has been conducted by the time the OLMS receives the complaint, there will be no enforcement action. If OLMS received a complaint regarding a union holding a delayed election and the election has not been conducted by the time OLMS receives the complaint, the OLMS will seek a voluntary compliance agreement with the union to set a practical date in the future to conduct such an election. When such an agreement is in place, the OLMS will not seek any civil enforcement so long as the union complies with the voluntary compliance agreement.
Accordingly, consult your bylaws and constitution regarding elections. If you feel that an election cannot be conducted in a safe manner at the appropriate time, you may delay the election to a time when it can be conducted in a safe manner.
Usually it is a violation of the LMRDA when a union fails to file a timely or complete report. However, the OLMS will not seek civil enforcement of late or delinquent filings if it is due to COVID – 19. However, if the pandemic has caused problems with the filing of the report, you should contact OLMS in advance. Give them the reasons for the delay, a future date certain that you anticipate that you can submit the report. If you do so, the OLMS will not seek any civil enforcement.
LM Reports are typically due 90 days after the close of a union’s fiscal year. If your fiscal year ends December 31, the reports are due very soon. You may not have any issues with the filing and it may be ready to go. If so, go ahead and file. However, many unions may be struggling to meet this deadline. This could be related to a bevy of issues, including dealing with the day-to-day crisis management, union halls and office closure, or any other manner of disruptions. If you are experiencing any such problems, you should contact OLMS or have your accountant or attorney do so on your behalf. Our expectation is that the OLMS will be reasonable under the circumstances. It does not seem that you need approval of your circumstances and new date in advance, merely provide OLMS notice.
There are an avalanche of issues that we as worker advocates are dealing with in order to keep workers safe and diminish the financial insecurity. Do not hesitate to contact our office at our office if you need any assistance in this time of crisis.