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LMRDA Related Legal Questions

The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) regulates certain aspects of internal union affairs by guaranteeing rights to union members and imposing responsibilities on union officers. The Act sets forth guidelines for union officer elections, and it provides safeguards for protecting funds and assets by requiring unions to disclose their structure and financial condition. Employees whose rights are directly affected by agreements with the union may seek remedial action under the LMRDA.

Below are some of the top questions on the provisions of the Act answered by legal experts.

What is the statute of limitations in the right to sue a union and employer under LMRDA and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? Would I have to sue both employer and union in the same charge?

The statute of limitations for any claim under the LMRDA is 6 months (180 days), and for claims involving back pay or unpaid wages, it is two years from the date of the violation. Since both the LMRDA and the FLSA are enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL), you may file a claim with the DoL. If you believe you have incurred damages because of violations of either of these federal statutes, as a private citizen you have the right to file a suit in the Federal Court.

Also, one is not required to file a claim against both the employer and the union at the same time, though some people do so to save time and expenses in both court fees and attorney fees. If you sue separately, it is the court’s discretion to join both claims.

The president of the private company I work for is refusing to show the members of our union the by-laws of our local contract. How can we legally procure the by-laws?

Since the LMRDA is a federal statute that regulates internal union affairs, section 104 of the Act gives you the right to acquire a copy of any collective bargaining agreement that you, as a member or employee, have negotiated with your local labor organization. If any union member believes that a labor organization has violated his rights under section 104, he may approach the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) field office in whose jurisdiction the union is located.

Our retirement age is being extended because the pension plan of our company lost over $28 million to a fraudulent scheme. Can my pension money be protected through the fiduciary responsibilities of my own union?

Under the LMRDA, the union comprised primarily of private sector employees has certain fiduciary duties with regard to disclosure of assets and financial management of a union, where non-performance may result in a lawsuit.

In your case, you may contract an employment attorney and consider a federal lawsuit under the LMRDA for both damages and class action depending on the number of employees affected.

The union is not helping me change my seniority day. Who can I approach for help?

The LMRDA gives each union member the right to review the collective bargaining agreement as well as the right to file a civil suit. Here, you have the right to review how seniority is being calculated and may be able to force the union to comply with the written requirement if you are not fully credited for seniority. The DoL website gives more information on the Union Member's Bill of Rights.

The LMRDA has several provisions to safeguard the interests and rights of union members including procedure for removal of a union officer if found guilty of misconduct. The OLMS administers and enforces provisions of the LMRDA to prevent corrupt practices by labor unions and violations of the Act. It also helps unions improve their organizational and administrative effectiveness. If you are a member of your local union, it is best to speak to a legal expert to get an insight into the provisions of the LMRDA.
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