Every union, once formed, must create a constitution and bylaws. Nowadays, just referring to them as bylaws is fine. Having bylaws isn’t optional. It’s required by federal law, and once created, unions are legally bound by their bylaws. We can’t just decide to ignore them when it feels good or when following them becomes a little too inconvenient, at least not without risking lawsuits that will end up costing our members money. In fact, if you discover that your elected union officers are not adhering to their bylaws, you should call them out on it. If they don’t fix the issue within a reasonable amount of time, you have a right and obligation to file a formal complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
We highly encourage everyone to read through their bylaws at least once. You can find them on our website. It’s surprisingly easy for unions, even large ones, to become complacent when it comes to performing their legal obligations and following their bylaws, so it’s important to have at least a few diligent, knowledgeable members involved in the union. It’s not safe to assume someone else is keeping the union accountable to the law or to their members, either. It might have to be you. In fact, a few years ago I drew attention to some election issues that needed to be fixed in order to align with the law, and the union worked hard to fix the issue before the next election. It was simply a matter of being ignorant of the law, not malicious non-compliance on the part of the union, but fixing the issue necessitated a knowledgeable member following proper channels.
Proud alumnus, union member, and educator in District #201 since 2006.
Dr. Hentze is the author of High Finance with Hentze, a monthly blog that provides news about District 201's current financial state.