Sunday, February 25, 2001

Bill Of Rights

Union Member Rights and Officer Responsibilities Under the Labor-Management Reporting Act of 1959, more commonly known as the Landrum-Griffin Act.

HISTORY- To protect democratic rights of union members, Congress passed the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). It included as its first title a union member "Bill of Rights." The LMRDA was intended to protect and promote democratic processes and democratic rights of union members, including the freedom to vote at meetings, to express any argument or opinions and to voice views upon union candidates and union business.

ORIGINS OF THE LMRDA- The LMRDA was signed into law on September 14, 1959. The Act passed in the House and Senate earlier that year following congressional investigations, led by Sen. John McClellan of Arkansas.

THE ROOTS OF THE STATUTE- When the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) was passed in 1935, the declared national policy was to "encourage the practice and procedure of "collective bargaining." One of the basic purposes of the statute, often lost from view today, was to give workers an effective voice in determining the terms and conditions of their employment. It echoed historic declarations that political democracy should be matched by industrial democracy. Senator Wagner in explaining the under-girding philosophy of the statute, stated:

"The principles of my proposal were surprisingly simple. They were founded upon the accepted facts that we must have democracy in industry as well as government; that democracy in industry means fair participation by those who work in the decisions vitally affecting their lives and livelihood; and that workers in our great mass production industries can enjoy this participation only if allowed to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing."

Union Members Bill of Rights

Free Speech and Due Process
The Union Member’s Bill of Rights, Title 1 of the LMRDA, guarantees the following democratic rights to all union members:

Equal rights and privileges to nominate candidates, to vote in elections or referendums, and to attend and participate in union meetings and vote on the business of the meeting, subject to reasonable rules in the union constitution and/or bylaws.

Freedom of speech and assembly, including the right to:

  • Express any viewpoint at union meetings
  • Hold separate meetings without interference from union officials
  • Voice in setting rates of dues, fees, and assessments

You are protected from improper union discipline. Due process is required in internal union disciplinary hearings, including:

  • The right to specific written charges
  • The right to confront and cross-examine accusers
  • Adequate time to prepare a defense
  • The right to a full and fair hearing and a decision based on the evidence

Note: The union may not discipline you for exercising protected rights, however you may be disciplined for the following activities:

  • Participating in wildcat strikes
  • Advocating decertification of the union
  • Nonpayment of dues or agency fees, and other acts which interfere with the legal or contractual obligations of the union or which threaten the existence of the union as an institution
  • Crossing picket lines

You have the right to receive a copy of your collective bargaining agreement (union contract) along with all riders and supplements, and to inspect copies of all contracts that your local union administers.

Due process in union disputes, including the right to specific, written charges; the right to confront and cross-examine accusers; adequate time to prepare a defense; and a full and fair hearing. The union may not discipline you for exercising protected rights;

Reporting Requirements

Title II of the LMRDA. Unions must file with the US Department of Labor copies of their constitutions and bylaws, and financial reports, called "LM-2," "LM-3" or "LM-4" forms (depending on the case). These documents are available to the public. The LM forms give you information about officers’ salaries and expenses, union loans, expenditures and investments. The reports are public information and copies are available from OLMS.


Title III. A trusteeship imposed by an international union on a local or other subordinate body is presumed by the courts and the Department of Labor to be valid for the first eighteen months. The presumption of validity may be overcome by showing that the imposition of the trusteeship violated union procedures or that the trusteeship was imposed for improper purposes, such as punishing a dissident local leadership. After the first eighteen months, a trusteeship is presumed by the courts to be invalid.


Under Title IV of the LMRDA, international unions must elect officers, either by a direct vote of the members or by a vote of delegates to a convention, at least every five years. Local unions must hold secret ballot elections of officers at least every three years.

Any member in good standing is eligible to run for office, subject to reasonable and equitable rules.

Candidates are entitled to mail campaign literature, as often as they are financially able, to the union’s entire membership list or to reasonable selected portions of the list, such as members in one company or geographical area. Unions may not abridge this right by restricting it to the time period after nominations. Candidates may inspect the membership list once during a campaign.

All members must be allowed to vote, nominate candidates, run for office and campaign without interference or retaliation. Candidates are entitled to have observers present at each stage of the election process, including literature mailing, balloting, and counting.

Union officials cannot use union resources for their campaign. Unions and all employers, not only interested employers, are prohibited from contributing money and resources to any candidate.

Fiduciary Duties

Under Title V, union representatives are obligated to manage union business for the sole benefit of the members. Individuals who embezzle or steal union funds or assets commit a Federal crime punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.

Note: The information presented on this website is general and intended for educational use. The above is only a summary of the LMRDA the full ACT, may be found by following the links below. The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) enforces many LMRDA provisions while other provisions, such as the bill of rights, may only be enforced by union members through private suit in Federal Court.

For more information about your rights, follow the links to Department of Labor and Congress

United States Department Of Labor

Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959

U.S. DOL View Union Annual Financial Reports

Democratic Rights for Union Members Act of 2000 Bill Number H.R. 4963

Committee on Education and the Workforce - 106th Congress

Bill of Rights of members of labor organizations

National Institute for Labor Relations Research

The Association for Union Democracy


New York State Department of Labor

Saturday, February 24, 2001

The Union Works for You!


In addition to getting a strong contract and District Council Benefits, Local 157 members also enjoy other benefits and services.

Your union membership also entitles you to:

Only union members can attend union meetings. Only union members can vote for their local officers, delegates to the district council and vote on other important matters involving your work and the union.

You receive a quarterly publication of Local Connection 157 Newsletter that keeps you informed about union activities at local 157. You also receive The Carpenter a marazine from the District Council and the Carpenter magazine from the International Union.

Children of Local 157 members who are high school seniors have the opportunity to compete for scholarships offered by Local 157 and the NYC District Council.

Our Carpenters School enables members to develop skills to help them perform more effectively on the job, advance their careers and improve their quality of life.

Local 157 provides our members with a free and reduced rate Legal Services Plan. Legal Services are provided by the law office of Robert M Ziskin. Our Legal Service Plan has assisted thousands of active members and retirees with a variety of legal issues, including purchase and sale of a home, drawing up a will, domestic relations credit and consumer problems, tenants rights and other matters not job-related. For more information about the Legal Service Plan telephone the Law Offices of Robert M Ziskin at 631-462-1417 they will be happy to assist you.

Local 157 provides members in good standing with a Sick Fund Benefit. Eligible members are allowed up to 12 weeks of sick pay benefit at $100.00 a week for the year.


  1. Must be a member of Local 157 for three full years
  2. Dues must be paid up-to-date (current quarter)
  3. Member must be out of work for at least 2 full weeks

Documentation Needed:

Member must mail a doctors certificate to Local 157 stating the following:

  • Member’s name
  • Member’s social security number
  • The member is under the doctor’s care and unable to work
  • How long the member will be under the doctor’s care

Important note: Mail original doctors note. No copies or faxes accepted.

When doctors certificate is received Local 157 will mail out an original sick form application to the member. The doctor and member must complete the original sick form and mail it back to the local.

Sick Fund checks are generated and mailed out on the last business day of the month in which your sick form is received. Please allow 4-6 weeks for processing.

You are allowed up to 12 weeks benefit for the year at $100.00 per week, paid monthly ($400.00 per month) up to a 36 week lifetime benefit.

To serve you better, we've created a link for you to claim Unemployment Insurance benefits online. The online application is a secure, simple and efficient way for members to file new Unemployment Insurance claims and claim weekly benefits.

NYC District Council's Welfare Fund provides medical benefits to members, retirees and their families.

Friday, February 9, 2001

What is RSS?

What is RSS?

RSS is a technology that is being used by millions of web users around the world to keep track of their favorite websites.

In the ‘old days’ of the web to keep track of updates on a website you had to ‘bookmark’ websites in your browser and manually return to them on a regular basis to see what had been added.

The problems with bookmarking

  • You as the web surfer had to do all the work
  • It can get complicated when you are trying to track many websites at once
  • You miss information when you forget to check your bookmarks
  • You end up seeing the same information over and over again on sites that don’t update very often

RSS Changes Everything

What if you could tell a website to let you know every time that they update? In a sense, this is what RSS does for you.

RSS flips things around a little and is a technology that provides you with a method of getting relevant and up to date information sent to you for you to read in your own time. It saves you time and helps you to get the information you want quickly after it was published.

RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. Many people describe it as a ‘news feed’ that you subscribe to.

I find the ’subscription’ description helpful. It’s like subscribing to a magazine that is delivered to you periodically but instead of it coming in your physical mail box each month when the magazine is published it is delivered to your ‘RSS Reader’ every time your favorite website updates.

How RSS actually technically works is probably a lesson for another day but the key today is for you to understand why it’s good and how to use it.

Let me say right up front that I’m not the most technically savvy guy going around - but even I can use RSS. At first I found it a little strange to make the change from bookmarking to RSS but I found that when I started that I just couldn’t stop.

How to Use RSS

Get an RSS Reader - The first thing you’ll want to do if you’re getting into reading sites via RSS is to hook yourself up with an RSS Feed Reader.

There are many feed readers going around with a variety of approaches and features - however a good place to start is with a couple of free and easy to use web based ones like Google Reader and Bloglines. Either one will do if you’re starting out (I use Google’s Reader) - as I say there are many others to choose from but to get started either of these are fairly easy to use and will help you work out the basics of RSS.

Both of these feed readers work a little like email. As you subscribe to feeds you’ll see that unread entries from the sites you’re tracking will be marked as bold. As you click on them you’ll see the latest update and can read it right they’re in the feed reader. You are given the option to click through to the actual site or move onto the next unread item - marking the last one as ‘read’.

The best way to learn how to use either Google Reader or Bloglines is to simply subscribe to some feeds and give it a go. Both have helpful help sections to get you up and running.

Don’t want to Use an RSS Reader? Email is an Option

If the above explanation all just seems a little too complicated for you then please don’t worry. Many sites also enable you to subscribe to RSS feeds via a more familiar medium - Email.

Here at Local157blogspot we know that not everyone is into the RSS thing so at the top of our left hand sidebar there is a field where you can enter your email address and get a daily email with a summary of our latest posts. You can unsubscribe at any time and your email will be kept private and not used for any other purposes than to send these daily updates.