Understanding Your Local Union Bylaws

December 14, 2012: Bylaws are the constitution of your local union. They define your rights and responsibilities as a local member, they say how elections will be run, and they set the powers for your officers.

Your local union bylaws can be amended, to make improvements. But you have to know how to go about it.

In many locals, members can only introduce new bylaws amendments in January.
The process of amending local bylaws can vary from local to local. The exact procedure is laid out in your bylaws.

Members must present the proposed changes at a union meeting. After members present a proposed change, it must be read at three consecutive meetings, and then there will be a vote. That’s the time to turn out supporters.

What it Takes to Win

A bylaws campaign can be effective tool for winning positive reforms and education of members. But, like any organizing campaign, a bylaws reform campaign requires good planning. Successful campaigns have usually:

  1. Picked an issue that matters most to members and focused on it
  2. Spread the word with leaflets and conversations and support petitions
  3. Involved supporters in the whole process

Getting the Language Right

Since bylaws are legally binding documents, it's important to get the language in your proposal right. In some cases, General President Hoffa has vetoed reforms approved by local union members because of language technicalities.

TDU can help on this front. We have copies of bylaws language that has been approved by the IBT, and lawyers who can review your bylaws proposals before you run into a legal challenge.

Contact TDU at 313-842-2600 or click here to send us a message.

Click here to read about Teamsters Local 251 and their bylaws campaign to win stronger representation and better contracts.


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