The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) was created to develop preventative measures to stop improper collusion between employers and union officials. The Act also serves to prevent embezzlement of union member dues. The Act requires the disclosure of financial transactions and administrative practices of unions, employers, and labor consultants, as well as providing standards for election of union officials, trusteeships, and the fiduciary duties of union officers.

The LMRDA only covers unions composed in whole or in part by private sector or U.S. Postal Service employees. If the union is wholly a public sector union, like teacher unions, then the LMRDA will not apply.

What Are Some of the Basic Rights of Union Members under the LMRDA?

The LMRDA gives union members some basic rights so that they have the power to help enforce the objectives of the Act:

  • Union members must be provided with a copy of any collective bargaining contract that affects their rights.
  • Union members must be provided with information on the financial transactions and administrative practices of their union.
  • Union members are entitled to free and democratic officer elections as well as the removal of officers.
  • Unions may raise dues only by democratic procedures such as a vote on it by all union members.
  • Union officials have a legally-binding fiduciary responsibility, which can be enforced by union members in a suit in civil court.

What Are the Fiduciary Duties of Union Officers?

The LMRDA’s primary function is to curb corruption in private sector unions. The law does this by recognizing the rights of union members and by imposing fiduciary duties on union officers. Fiduciaries are legal and ethical rules that the law imposes to maintain a high standard of trust and confidence in certain relationships.

In the union context, the LMRDA imposes the following obligations on union officials:

  • Officials shall hold the union’s asserts solely for the benefit of the organization and its members.
  • Officials shall not deal adversely with the union or deal with the union on behalf of an adverse party.
  • Officials shall reframe from any interests that would pose a conflict of interest with the union.
  • Officials shall make an accounting to the union for any profits that the official receives in connection with any business that the official makes on behalf of the union.

What If an Official Is Misusing Union Funds?

If you suspect an official is misusing union funds, you should contact an Office of Labor-Management Standards(OLMS). The federal agency will conduct an investigation and determine if any sanctions are necessary, if any.

What Should I Do If My Union’s Officials Are Violating the LMRDA?

You may have legal recourse if your union’s officials are violating the LMRDA. Although some provisions of the LMRDA are enforced by the Department Labor, many provisions are only enforceable if a union member brings a private lawsuit. An experienced labor law attorney can help you understand your rights under the LMRDA. A labor lawyer also can help you file a complaint and take those officials to court if necessary.