The vast majority of union officials and employees do their work diligently and without incident. Unfortunately, civil and criminal violations do sometimes occur and when they do, the union is typically the victim. The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) administers provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), which promotes labor-management transparency by making available reports showing unions’ financial condition and employer expenditures for their activities in persuading workers during union organizing campaigns. It also promotes labor union democracy and financial integrity through adopting and enforcing standards for union officer elections and union trusteeships and safeguards for union assets.
OLMS also administers the standards of conduct provisions of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA) and the Foreign Service Act of 1980, which extend comparable protections to Federal labor unions. A union that represents only employees of state, county, or municipal governments is not subject to the LMRDA or the CSRA. See 29 CFR Part 451 and the OLMS Interpretative Manual Definitions section for further information concerning labor organization coverage under the LMRDA.
OLMS has the authority to enforce certain provisions of the LMRDA. However, some provisions of the LMRDA such as the Bill of Rights and the fiduciary standards for union officers can only be enforced by union members through a private suit in Federal district court. See the OLMS Interpretative Manual Enforcement section. The CSRA standards of conduct regulations also incorporate many of the LMRDA provisions. When administering the standards of conduct regulations for Federal sector unions, OLMS is guided by LMRDA policies and principles. Unlike the LMRDA, the CSRA standards of conduct regulations are enforced entirely through various administrative actions depending upon the violation. This generally involves the filing of a complaint by an OLMS District Director, a hearing before a Department of Labor administrative law judge, the judge's report and recommendations, and a decision and order by the Department’s Administrative Review Board.
For further Union Resources Information, see the sections below, the OLMS Publications on the LMRDA and CSRA, the OLMS Interpretative Manual and related Questions and Answers, or contact OLMS. Also, for procedures on enforcement for the LMRDA and CSRA, including information on filing a complaint, please visit this page. To view union annual financial and other reports for the year 2000 and later, as well as order copies of earlier reports, visit the Online Public Disclosure Room.
The LMRDA and CSRA promote union democracy through standards for union officer elections and union trusteeships. Concerning union democracy, the LMRDA and CSRA establish democratic standards for conducting union officer elections, including frequency and method of election, right of members in good standing to be candidates, rights of candidates, and voting rights of members. OLMS investigates and supervises a number of elections to ensure adherence to these standards.
An investigation will be conducted if OLMS receives a timely complaint. If the investigation determines that the election provisions have been violated, OLMS may negotiate a voluntary agreement to have the union rerun the election under OLMS supervision. Failing that, OLMS will take legal action seeking a new election. Where warranted, OLMS investigates criminal violations associated with elections including ballot fraud, false statements, and deprivation of rights under the LMRDA by violence.
OLMS also conducts investigations to determine the validity of trusteeships imposed by national unions on subordinate bodies, in which the parent body suspends, partially or fully, the autonomy of the subordinate body. Trusteeship investigations are conducted upon receipt of a complaint.
Additionally, the LMRDA and CSRA establish a Bill of Rights for union members. The Bill of Rights for LMRDA-covered unions can only be enforced by union members through a private suit in Federal district court, while Federal sector union members can bring a complaint to OLMS.
- Union Member Rights
- Elections of Union Officers
- eLaws OLMS Union Elections Advisor
- Election Case Decisions
- OLMS Enforcement
Labor union officials occupy positions of trust and, therefore, must ensure that the union's funds and other assets are used solely for the benefit of the union and its members. It is a Federal crime for a labor union officer or employee to embezzle funds of the union. To protect labor organizations and their members, OLMS conducts compliance audits and criminal investigations.
To audit local unions, OLMS uses a streamlined audit approach called the Compliance Audit Program (CAP). These audits use specialized records review and investigative techniques to verify LMRDA compliance.
In addition, CAP allows OLMS to provide compliance assistance to union officials to help them correct problems detected during the audit and to help prevent future violations. The programs also increase communication and cooperation between OLMS and local, national, and international unions.
OLMS also investigates violations of criminal laws. Among other investigations of criminal law violations, OLMS conducts embezzlement investigations to protect and safeguard union funds and assets.
The LMRDA establishes additional financial safeguards for labor organizations, such as prohibitions on certain loans to and payments of fines for union officials, bonding for those who handle union funds, and a 13-year bar for individuals convicted of certain crimes. Finally, the LMRDA establishes fiduciary responsibilities for union officers, contained in section 501(a) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 501(a), although these obligations are enforced by private suit in Federal district court.
- LMRDA Title V - Safeguards for Labor Organizations
- LMRDA Regulations- CFR 453
- OLMS Interpretative Manual Union Safeguards section
- CSRA Regulations CFR 458.31-36
- Compliance Tips
- Compliance Audits Closing Letters
- OLMS Enforcement
The LMRDA is premised on the understanding that union members, officers, and the public in general would benefit by having access to information about labor unions, their officers and employees, employers, labor relations consultants, and surety companies. This information enables union members to self-govern their unions, as well as detect and deter fraud and embezzlement. The transparency created by these requirements is also designed to better inform workers in making determinations regarding the exercise of their rights to organize and bargain collectively.
Reports are public information. They are available for disclosure at OLMS offices and, increasingly, on the OLMS Internet reporting page, www.unionreports.gov. Additionally, OLMS maintains collective bargaining agreements (CBA) that are submitted by signatories on a voluntary basis.
- LMRDA Title II - Reporting and Disclosure Requirements
- LMRDA Regulations - 29 CFR Parts 402-409;
- OLMS Interpretative Manual Reporting and Disclosure section
- CSRA Regulations - 29 CFR 458.3
- Forms and Instructions
- Online Public Disclosure Room
- Compliance Tips
- Employer-Consultant Reporting
- Collective Bargaining Agreements
OLMS has an active education and compliance assistance program to promote voluntary compliance with the LMRDA by informing union officers and others affected by the law of their responsibilities and by encouraging members to exercise their rights under the LMRDA.
OLMS District Offices throughout the country offer compliance assistance seminars to explain the requirements of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). These seminars cover topics such as union reporting and recordkeeping, financial safeguards for union funds, elections of union officers, and training for union trustees on conducting audits in small unions. Some of these seminars are sponsored by labor unions, labor education programs, or other groups to provide training for their representatives while other seminars are solely OLMS sponsored and may be attended by any interested union officers and members. If your organization would like to sponsor a seminar with OLMS, contact the nearest OLMS District Office.
Last Updated: 2-26-21