After a member of your union has exhausted all internal union remedies for protesting an officer election, that member may decide to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). If a properly filed complaint to DOL alleges activities that might violate federal law, your union may find DOL investigating your officer election. If DOL determines that there were violations in your election procedures that might have affected the outcome of the election, your union may have to run a new election.
Running a new election is expensive, so you want to make sure that DOL considers information appropriately before deciding if your election needs to be rerun. Start by cooperating with the DOL investigator so that it does not appear that you have anything to hide. Inform executive board members and election committee members that DOL is conducting an investigation of your officer election. Inform your attorney about the DOL investigation, and determine whether you want legal representation during the investigation.
Establish a communication protocol by identifying one person through whom the DOL investigator should communicate all questions and requests. Ask the DOL investigator to provide a list of union officers and employees to be interviewed and all union records to be reviewed. Answer DOL's questions truthfully, but do not volunteer information. Do not guess because making false statements to a federal investigator is a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001, and DOL will consider referring false statements to the U.S. Attorney for prosecution. Do not sign a statement, which locks in your testimony under penalty of perjury, or agree to extend the time within which DOL can file suit without first consulting your attorney.
Election investigations are serious business, and you want to get it right. If your election was truly flawed, it may be best to rerun it. If you believe that your election was conducted properly, make sure that you give DOL a full explanation of your reasons for standing by the original election results.
If DOL finds violations that it believes may have affected the outcome of your election, it will first ask your union to voluntarily rerun the election under its supervision. If you refuse, DOL may file a complaint in federal court seeking to compel you to rerun the election. Your decision will have serious repercussions and should not be made lightly. We'll discuss factors to consider in making that decision another time.
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