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Legal Rights for union members

Legal rights and organizing

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a guide to information on this site and a form to use to ask for advice, information, and assistance from AUD.

Questions and Answers about Legal Rights and Organizing: practical advice about your rights in the union and on the job: elections, grievances, contracts, finances, and more.

About the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA):the law that protects your rights in the union.

The Union Members' Bill of Rights: 
Free Speech and Due Process, Reporting Requirements, Trusteeships, Elections, Fiduciary Duties, Constitutions and Bylaws, Notification of Rights.

The Complete Text of the LMRDA: get the law word for word, with links to AUD's summary.

Enforcement & Organizing: how to get your democratic rights in practice.

How to get an honest union election: excerpts from the AUD booklet, and a few guidelines.

Your Job, Your Rights: an introductory pamphlet on grievances and fair representation.

The Painters Union 1962-1972 (Chapter 5 of Rebels, Reformers, and Racketeers)

Democracy on the waterfront. Articles and resources for members of the International Longhoremen's Association.

Construction Trades:hiring hall rights, getting information, women in building trades unions.

Women in 'non-traditional' trades: organizing and legal rights for union women and their allies.

Sample Letters:to get a copy of the contract or bylaws, file a grievance, run for union office and more.

Is your union in compliance with Section 105 of the LMRDA?: see what you can do to enforce the law.

Get your Union's LM-2 annual financial report here.

AUD handouts you can print and distribute:
Basic Democratic Rights of Rank and File Union Members; Cuatro Derechos Basicos de los/las Trabajadores/as Dentro de la Unión; Cyberdemocracy: your legal rights online; Checklist for Democratic Organizing; Organizing for Women's Issues; Where to File Complaints.

Mentoring for Lawyers: contact us to get advice or mentoring from leading union democracy attorneys.

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Legal Rights and Organizing

The struggle for union democracy begins with the union members themselves. Use the links on the left to:

  • Learn about your rights and how to use them in practice.
  • See what the law says and what it means in the real world.
  • Find out more about organizing to make your union democratic or keep it that way.
  • Get resources you can use to defend your rights. 
Help us build a democratic movement, join AUD

The Right to Union Democracy.

The Labor Movement can be a great force for democracy, social progress, and social justice. To fulfill that potential, it must be thoroughly democratic in its internal life. There is no effective substitute for strong, democratic unions to help workers achieve dignity and respect, to defend and increase their standard of living, and to fight for better, safer, conditions in the workplace. There is no substitute for internal union democracy to combat discrimination, fight racketeering, get rid of corruption, and oust self-serving officials. In many unions democratic rights are real and unquestioned, but in large sections of the US labor movement these rights are trampled upon and must be restored.

Read more about union democracy-- what it is, who needs it, who fought for it, who uses it, and more.

Disclaimer: the information presented on this website is general and intended for educational purposes. It is not a substitute for practical legal advice on any specific situation.

Mentoring Available for New Union Democracy Lawyers

Lawyers who support labor, are sympathetic to union democracy cases and are willing to undertake a union member's case against his or her own union are few and far between. AUD works with a small group of dedicated lawyers who collectively represent decades of experience. We are now offering mentoring, by lawyers with whom we have worked for many years, for other lawyers seeking assistance with an existing case and for those who wish to break into this area of the law. Mentors prefer to serve as "of counsel," although other arrangements may be possible on a case-by-case basis.

There are two ways to become involved with our mentoring program:

1. Contact us with a specific case you are working on that you think raises issues of union democracy law and we will refer you to a mentor.

2. Let us know that you are interested in practicing in the area of union democracy law. An experienced union democracy lawyer will contact you, to discuss the practice of union democracy law one-on-one, and we will contact you again if a suitable mentoring experience becomes available in your area.

To get started:

Email us your resume and a short description of either a specific case you are working on or your general interests in union democracy law and we will contact you shortly.

This website is made possible by contributions from union members and supporters like you. Please help us build the movement for union democracy, join or contribute to AUD.

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