Informing members of their rights is not a responsibility from which federal employees’ unions are exempt. That’s a principle on which the Labor Department stands anyway. On June 2, the department issued its final rule changes for Standards of Conduct under the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA). DOL officials believe that until now federal union members have lacked full protections available to private-sector union employees under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (i.e., Landrum-Griffin Act). Under the rule, which becomes effective July 3, federal sector unions must notify members of their rights by October 2, and at least every three years thereafter. They also must notify new members of those rights within 90 days of joining the union.
Congress passed the Landrum-Griffin Act in 1959 in the wake of revelations of widespread corruption in the Teamsters and other private-sector unions. Sponsors intended the law to put more power in the hands of dissenting union members who witness evidence of corruption, but might be reluctant to come forward for fear of retaliation. Current Labor Secretary Elaine Chao believes that by having their rights clarified, federal sector workers can better monitor their respective unions, and remedy breaches in the organizations’ integrity. Unions may use the department’s publication, Union Member Rights and Officer Responsibilities under the Civil Service Reform Act, available on the Web site of DOL’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). If a labor organization has a Web site, the notice must appear there as well. (Department of Labor, 6/2/06).