International unions and intermediate bodies, such as district councils and state associations, must elect their officers either by secret ballot among the members in good standing or at a convention of delegates chosen by secret ballot. These delegates may be elected at the same time that local unions elect their officers or in separate delegate elections. In some instances, officers of local unions are delegates to conventions by virtue of their office. If this is the case in your union, it is important to clearly inform members, in the election notice and on the ballot, which officers will also serve as delegates.
When delegates are going to cast votes for officers covered by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), they must be elected in the same manner in which officers covered by the LMRDA are elected. They must be elected by secret ballot. They may not be appointed or elected by a voice vote at a membership meeting. All of the other provisions of the LMRDA, such as reasonable opportunity to nominate, reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed, proper notice of election, and adequate safeguards, apply to delegate elections as well.
If the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigates the election of officers for your international union and ends up supervising a new election of international officers, DOL will first make sure that delegates to the international convention were properly elected. If you cannot demonstrate that delegates from your local to the international convention were elected according to the provisions of the LMRDA, DOL will oversee a new election of delegates from your local even if there was no complaint about your local election. Treat your election of delegates with the same care that you use with your election of officers, or you may experience the expense and disruption of electing them a second time.
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