What is a union officer election, and why are they necessary?
A union officer election enables the selection of officers in accordance with federal law, your union's constitution, and its bylaws by secret ballot. The election official is entrusted with the responsibility of providing members the right to elect their union's officers.
That description is a synthesis of information provided by the US Department of Labor.
On the whole, officers benefit the workforce and industry alike by working with stakeholders to negotiate and implement outcomes.
When it comes to electing these officials - it's essential that each individual voice in your union has a say.
We've seen unions run into all kinds of issues when electing their officers. So, we wanted to share some words of wisdom that we guarantee will make your union officer election more successful.
Common stumbling blocks unions encounter when electing their officers
According to the Department of Labor's report, Conducting Local Union Officer Elections, many union officer elections encounter two debilitating pitfalls:
Issue #1: Sick or laid off members get neglected
For example, they might not get alerted about upcoming nominations and consequently, their voices slip through the cracks.
Issue #2: Eligibility requirements are waved (or not enforced)
This often happens because membership hasn't provided adequate notice to do so. And it's worthwhile to make sure you do, because this sort of inattentive behavior will only hurt your union's structure in the long run.
How to improve your union officer elections
Here are our top recommendations on how to ensure a smooth election, sourced directly from the Department of Labor report.
1. Prevent misunderstandings
Provide necessary information on the nomination form itself. Examples include the term of office; instructions for making, seconding, and accepting nominations; and eligibility requirements for candidates and nominators.
2. Provide advance notice
Unions must give members reasonable notices of nominations. Everyone should be informed in advance of new candidate eligibility requirements and any changes to those.
3. Waiving notification? Let the officials know
If your union has decided to waive (or just not enforce) a candidate eligibility requirement in its constitution and bylaws, it should notify all members of this decision in the nomination notice.
4. Standardize your notice templates
Election official should obtain a copy of the nomination notice used for their union's most recent election. If this notice contains the required information, election officials may wish to follow the same format. (Templates are especially useful if included with an online voting software platform, like eBallot.)
5. Carefully review your nomination notice
After the nomination notice is prepared, all election officials should review it carefully to be sure that it contains no mistakes and that all necessary information is included. Official retractions not only make your organization look bad – they cost important time, resources, and personal energy that should be spent elsewhere.
6. Make distribution arrangements early on
Election officials should make the necessary arrangements for distributing the nomination notice with union officers or staff well in advance of the day the notice is to be distributed.
7. Ensure official distribution
If election officials do not distribute the nomination notice, they should ensure that it is properly distributed by other union officials. Email notification is encouraged for many union elections. An online voting platform such as eBallot makes email notification fast and secure.
8. Use your newspaper
If the union newspaper is used to give notice of nominations, the notice should appear in an obvious, highlighted place in the newspaper you know people will read. Advise your newspaper editor that the notice must be given a prominent position.
9. Retain copies of your nomination notices
Election officials should retain a copy of the nomination notice for at least one year after the election and keep a record of the date and method(s) of distribution.
Reasons to transition your union toward an online voting platform
The Department of Labor allows, however, it doesn't offer explicit guidelines for online voting.
But let it be clear: many unions enjoy the numerous benefits of relying on an online voting provider each time they vote.
This biggest perks, in our view, include:
Notification requirements are simplified
Simply use the provided email platform to tailor your message.
Results are collected as votes are cast
This happens in real-time, and you're able to choose who is able to see these numbers.
You'll ensure voter anonymity
Verify voting results, while keeping important voices private.
A union officer election shouldn't be complicated. We're trusted by hundreds of unions across the country.
Read more about why you should securely digitize your union elections.