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November 4, 2008    DOL Home > Compliance Assistance > By Topic > Union and Union Members > Union Elections   

Unions and Union Members:

Union Elections

 Frequently Asked Questions


Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) establishes standards for elections of union officers. Local unions must elect their officers by secret ballot and national and international unions and intermediate bodies must elect their officers either by secret ballot of the members or by delegates chosen by secret ballot. Elections by national and international unions must be held at least every five years, intermediate bodies at least every four years, and local unions at least every three years.

Unions and employers may not use their funds to promote the candidacy of any candidate, although union funds may be used to conduct an election. A union member in good standing has the right to nominate candidates, be a candidate subject to reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed, hold office, and support and vote for the candidates of the member's choice. Unions must mail a notice of election to every member at the member's last-known home address at least 15 days before the election.

A union member may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), alleging violations of union officer election procedures. However, the union member must first exhaust internal election remedies or invoke such remedies without obtaining a final decision within three calendar months.





  • LMRDA Recordkeeping Requirements for Unions - Provides guidance on complying with the recordkeeping requirements of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). These requirements pertain to two types of records one of which is related to union elections. (PDF Version)



  • The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) - The NLRB is the federal agency that administers the National Labor Relations Act by conducting elections to determine whether or not employees want union representation and investigating and remedying unfair labor practices by employers and unions.
  • The National Mediation Board (NMB) - The NMB is an independent agency that performs a central role in facilitating harmonious labor-management relations within two of the nation's key transportation modes - the railroads and airlines. Pursuant to the Railway Labor Act, NMB programs provide an integrated dispute resolution process to effectively meet the statutory objective of minimizing work stoppages in the airline and railroad industries.


  • Employment Standards Administration (ESA)
    Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS)

    200 Constitution Avenue, NW
    Room N-5605
    Washington, DC 20210
    Tel: 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365)
    TTY: 1-877-889-5627
    Local Offices

  • For questions on other DOL laws,
    please call DOL's Toll-Free Help Line at 1-866-4-USA-DOL. Live assistance is available in English and Spanish, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Additional service is available in more than 140 languages through a translation service.
    Tel: 1-866-4-USA-DOL
    TTY: 1-877-889-5627

*Pursuant to the U.S. Department of Labor's Confidentiality Protocol for Compliance Assistance Inquiries, information provided by a telephone caller will be kept confidential within the bounds of the law. Compliance assistance inquiries will not trigger an inspection, audit, investigation, etc.

Phone Numbers