Getting a Fair Union Election

April 10, 2009: Most Teamster local union elections are run honestly—but if you’re running for local union office, you need to police your election to make sure it is fair.

Some common election violations include employer support for incumbent candidates, ballot collection by business agents, and using union resources for campaigning.

These steps can help make sure that your members get a fair vote:

Review the membership list. You have the right to look at the entire membership list at least once within 30 days of the election. Note how many people are on the list—is it too big, or too small? Spot check the list to make sure your supporters are on it.

Observe every step of the voting process. You have the right to observe the printing, mailing, collecting, and counting of all ballots. This is your chance to make sure that the ballots are printed correctly, are sent to the right people, and are not being misused by officials.

Encourage members to be your eyes and ears. Ask your supporters to be on the look out for problems, and to check with members to make sure that they got their ballots—and send them in.

Focus on getting out the vote. The surest way to get a fair election is to get as many of your supporters as possible to vote. Don’t waste campaign time crying over every little foul—you’ll seem weak. And if members think the vote is rigged, they’re less likely to get involved and cast their ballots.

If you find a real violation, file a protest with your local Secretary-Treasurer and contact TDU right away.

TDU has helped rank-and-file Teamsters in dozens of locals run winning campaigns for local office. Contact TDU for help in setting up a workshop on running for office in your area.

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