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Local Elections

Local elections give you and your fellow union members the opportunity to choose your own local officers. Local elections must follow several rules established in labor law. A few of the basics:
  • Local unions must hold elections for local officers at least once every three years.
  • These local officer elections must take place by secret ballot.
  • Union funds can be used to conduct an election, but they can’t be used to promote any particular candidate.
  • Union members in good standing can nominate candidates, run for local office (subject to reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed), hold office, and vote for the candidate(s) of their choice.
  • Union elections require several actions that must adhere to strict timelines. (For example, the union must mail a notice of election to the last-known address of each member 15 days before the election.)
The U.S. Department of Labor has a great resource section with lots of information on specific topics to help guide you:
  • Election guide: This is the best guide for conducting elections, from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Read this first—it’s the best resource for everything you need to know to plan and carry out your local election. 
  • Election planner: The election guide includes this election planner, with all of the steps and timeline requirements in one chart. A quick look at this will give you an idea of the timeline you need to establish for every action necessary to conduct a local election. (Tip: You’ll need at least two months, so plan well ahead of time.)
  • Main union resource home: This is the home for the U.S. DOL resources on union elections and record keeping requirements. It has links to a wide variety of topics helpful to union officers.