Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)
Informing Members of the Standards of Conduct Provisions for Federal Sector Labor Organizations Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the member notification requirement for Federal sector unions?
A. Every labor organization subject to the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (FSA), or the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 (CAA) must periodically notify its members of their rights as union members as set forth in the standards of conduct provisions of these Acts and their implementing regulations.
Q. What is the effective date for the notification requirement?
A. The effective date is July 3, 2006. Labor organizations must provide the required notice to all members by October 2, 2006.
Q. Must labor organizations prepare the notice?
A. Yes. However, labor organizations may use the language in the Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) publication, Union Member Rights and Officer Responsibilities under the CSRA (CSRA Member Rights), or, alternatively, devise their own language as long as it accurately states all the CSRA standards of conduct provisions as identified in CSRA Members Rights. This publication is available on the OLMS Web site in HTML or PDF format. By developing its own notice, a union may choose to apprise its members of their specific rights under the union's governing documents, and the duties owed by officers and the members to the union and each other, in addition to these statutory and regulatory rights.
Q. When is the deadline for providing notice to existing members?
A. Labor organizations must provide written notice to existing members by October 2, 2006.
Q. What about notice to new members?
A. Notice to new members must be given within 90 days of their joining the labor organization.
Q. What about further notification?
A. Notification must be given to all members at least every three years.
Q. How must notification be given?
A. Notification may be made by hand delivery, regular mail, or electronic mail (e-mail), or a combination of these methods, as long as the method selected is reasonably calculated to reach all members.
Q. Labor organizations are required to notify members of an election of officers. Must the notice of member rights be included with this notice of officer elections?
A. A labor organization is permitted, but not required, to include such notice with the organization's statutorily-required notice of election of officers if such notice is mailed to members at least every three years. If such notification is given through a union publication, it must be presented with sufficient prominence to attract the attention of a member receiving the publication. Typically, this will require conspicuous placement of the notice on the front page of the publication or a conspicuous reference on the front page to the inside page where the notice appears.
Q. Must a labor organization provide the notice if the notice is in the union's constitution and bylaws and the union maintains proof that each member received a copy?
A. A one-time distribution to members of the union's constitution and bylaws would not satisfy the notification requirement. However, a union would satisfy its obligation if it chooses to mail the constitution with a statement of rights as an appendix to its members at least every three years.
Q. May a labor organization satisfy the notice requirement through the posting of members' rights on agency bulletin boards?
A. No, such posting would not satisfy the rule's notification requirement. Notification must be in writing, it must be direct, and it must be by one of the three methods mentioned above, or a combination thereof, which is reasonably calculated to reach all members.
Q. May a labor organization satisfy the notice requirement through a notice in a union newspaper?
A. Yes, if the newspaper is sent to all members by hand delivery, U.S. mail, or e-mail and if the notice is conspicuously placed on the front page of the newspaper or the front page has a conspicuous reference to the inside page where the notice appears.
Q. What must labor organizations using e-mail as a means of dissemination do to meet the notice requirement?
A. If a union chooses to use this method, it must maintain an updated list of members' e-mail addresses. A labor organization that relies on e-mail to provide notice has the burden of proving that notice has been sent to an operational e-mail address of the member to whom the message is directed. For this reason, the Department encourages unions to maintain records in electronic or other format to show when and to whom the e-mails have been sent and notification that the e-mail message has been received, or is undeliverable. Where a union does not have a member's e-mail address on file or an e-mail is "returned" as undeliverable, it must provide notification to the member by hand delivery or regular mail.
Q. May a labor organization use a member's agency e-mail address instead of the member's personal e-mail address?
A. The Department does not require that a union utilize a member's personal e-mail address to provide notification, but if the union chooses to use the agency e-mail system for purpose of member notification, then it must document - either by its own means or the agency's - when and to whom the e-mails have been sent and that the e-mail has been received, or was "returned" as undeliverable. The Department, however, lacks the authority to direct an agency to permit the use of its e-mail system for such purpose and the Department offers no view on whether the agency may or should permit such use.
Q. May labor organizations provide notification to new members through Form SF 1187 (Request for Payroll Deductions for Labor Organization Dues)?
A. The signing of the SF 1187 provides a good opportunity to notify individuals of their rights as union members. Form SF 1187 is the standard form used by unions to sign up new members and the form by which employees authorize their agencies to deduct funds from their salaries and transmit the funds to the union for payment of their dues. While providing such notice in conjunction with the Form SF 1187 does meet the requirement for labor organizations to notify new members of their rights, the Department does not require this method of notification. Other forms of hand delivery, as well as mail and/or e-mail, are appropriate if reasonably calculated to reach all new members.
Q. Must a labor organization with a web site post member rights on its web site?
A. Yes, if a labor organization has a web site, its web site must contain a hyperlink to the CSRA Member Rights on the OLMS web site (HTML or PDF), or alternatively, provide the organization's own notice as long as the notice accurately states all of the CSRA standards of conduct provisions.
Q. What if a labor organization does not maintain a web site?
A. Web posting is only required for unions that maintain web sites; unions without web sites are not required to develop a web site in order to satisfy the notice requirement.
Q. May a labor organization satisfy its notification requirement by relying on notice given by an affiliated labor organization?
A. A union's duty to provide notification may be satisfied by notice provided to its members by another labor organization. For example, if Member A is a member of Federal Union Local 1, the obligation of his or her local to provide notification is satisfied if it is provided by either Local 1, the Council of East Coast Locals (to which it is affiliated), or the National Federal Union. However, this rule does not apply to labor organizations that maintain a web site: these organizations must provide web site notification without regard to whether an affiliated union has provided written notification to its members or has published the notification on its web site.
Q. How will the Department address failures of labor organizations to follow the notification requirements?
A. OLMS will use the existing administrative mechanism in the standards of conduct regulations (29 CFR 458.66 to 459.5) to enforce this rule. If an OLMS District Director determines after investigation that a violation has occurred and has not been remedied, the District Director will initiate enforcement action. OLMS can initiate an investigation either with or without a complaint from a union member.
Q. What if I have questions about the notification requirement or other provisions of the standards of conduct regulations?
A. Send an e-mail to OLMS-Public@dol.gov or call the Department of Labor's toll-free number at: 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365) (1-866-487-2365).
Q. How can I file a complaint about the failure of my labor organization to provide the required notification?
A. Contact the nearest OLMS field office.
Last Updated: 06/02/06