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Legal Rights for union members


#1 To Get a Copy of the Contract

#2 To Get a Copy of the Union  Constitution or Bylaws

#3 To File a Grievance

#4 To Follow Up on a Grievance

#5 Hiring Hall Procedures, Rules, & Records

#6 To Verify Your Eligibility to Run  for Office

#7 To Conduct a Mailing in a Union Election

 

 

 

 

 

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The Association for Union Democracy (AUD) is a pro-labor, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the principles and practices of democratic trade unionism in the North American labor movement. (Click here for more about AUD, or for a definition of Union Democracy.) For more information on your legal rights in the union, see the legal rights page.

Sample Letters to Adapt and Use

Disclaimer: the information presented on this website is general and intended for educational purposes. It is not a substitute for practical legal advice on any specific situation.

This website is made possible by contributions from union members and supporters like you. Please help us build the movement for union democracy, join or contribute to AUD.


A few tips on using these letters:

  • One size does not fit all. Your situation may differ from the ones in the letters. Your may have different rights or procedures in your union, depending on your union constituion or bylaws. Use these letters as a guide for writing your own. You will need to change the details to fit your situation. If in doubt, call AUD for advice-- 718-564-1114.
  • Write for a third party. One purpose of a formal letter is to create a paper trail that you can use later on, if necessary, as evidence of your attempts to get a fair deal. When you write, remember that someone else--a judge or official--may read your letter later. Be clear, specific, and avoid personal attacks or vulgar or hostile language.
  • Wherever possible, make your actions collective ; have your coworkers sign on to your letter or submit it as a petition, put it in a newsletter, and let your coworkers know what happens at each step.
  • Send your letter certified mail , return receipt requested, and keep a copy of everything.

Sample Letter #1  To Get a Copy of Your Union Contract

click here to download and print this letter (pdf file)

 

BY CERTIFIED MAIL

April 7, 2000
Bernard Weiner, President
United Workers of America, Local 3
735 Wythe Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Dear Brother Weiner,

I am writing to request a copy of the current collective bargaining agreement between Local 3 and Overwork Manufacturing Corp.

I have worked at the Overwork Manufacturing Corp. as a machine operator and have been a member of Local 3 for 15 years. I understand that it is my right under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act to have a current and true copy of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and all related agreements (signed by both parties) that apply to me.

Please send me a copy of the collective bargaining agreement between Local 3 and Overwork Manufacturing Corp. to the address below or let me know when I can come to the office to obtain a copy of the agreement. I ask to receive a copy of the contract by April 21, 2000.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,


Luis Cruz
203 West 116th Street, Apt. 3B
New York, NY 10034
(212) 456-9876

to ask a question about grievances
for the text of the law that gives you this right
for a brief explanation of the law

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Sample Letter #2  To Get a Copy of Your Union Constitution or Bylaws

click here to download and print this letter (pdf file)

 

BY CERTIFIED MAIL
April 7, 2000
Bernard Weiner, President
United Workers of America, Local 3
735 Wythe Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Dear Brother Weiner,

I am writing to request a copy of the Constitution and/or Bylaws of the United Workers of America, and the Constitution and/or Bylaws of Local 3.

I have worked at the Overwork Manufacturing Corp. as a machine operator and have been a member of Local 3 for 15 years. I understand that it is the union's obligation under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act to make available to its members a current, true, and complete copy of the Constitution and/or Bylaws of the union.

Please send me a copy of the International and Local Constitution and/or Bylaws to the address below or let me know when I can come to the office to obtain a copy of the documents. I ask to receive a copy of the Constitution and/or Bylaws by April 21, 2000.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

 

Luis Cruz
203 West 116th Street, Apt. 3B
New York, NY 10034
(212) 456-9876

to ask a question about your rights
for a frequently asked question on getting the constitution
or the text of the law that gives you this right
for a brief explanation of the law


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Sample Letter #3  To File a Grievance

click here to download and print this letter (pdf file)

 

BY CERTIFIED MAIL

April 7, 2000
Brenda Waltham, President
International Brotherhood of Industrial Workers, Local 5270
1010 Seventeenth Ave.
New York, NY 10001

Dear Sister Waltham,

I have worked at the Overwork Manufacturing Corp. as a machine operator and have been a member of Local 5270 for 15 years.

[describe the problem briefly] I received a disciplinary warning from my supervisor, Brian LeBrat, on April 2, 2000. I went to Mr. LeBrat to complain about a puddle of water that was making my workstation unsafe. LeBrat yelled at me, then told me he was putting a letter in my file because I  "have a bad attitude," and said the "next time" I would be fired. I have witnesses who will testify to these events.

[describe what you have done about it so far] On April 2, 2000 I went to my union delegate, Steve Climber, and told him about the situation. He said there was nothing I could do. The next day, I called the business agent, Earline Distant, at the local office several times and left two messages, but never received a return call.

It is my understanding that under the contract between Local 5270 and Overwork Manufacturing Corp. employees are to be disciplined only for "just cause." It is also my understanding that I am protected by the contract and federal law from working in unsafe conditions, or being retaliated against for complaining about unsafe conditions. [If you are not sure what the violations are, say "it is my understanding that the employer's actions violate my rights under the contract and/or the law."]

[Say what remedy you seek] I ask you to file a grievance on my behalf against Overwork Manufacturing Corp. to fight against this unjust discipline and to get the letter removed from my file.

Please inform me in writing by April 15, 2000 whether the union will file a grievance on my behalf.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,


Matilda Knowles
345 Meadowbrook Road
Great Falls, New Jersey, 22024
(203) 456-9876

to ask a question about legal rights and organizing
for a guide to getting your union to represent you
for a book on the rights of union stewards (English & Espanol)
for question and answer on changing your union

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Sample Letter #4  To Follow Up On A Grievance You Filed

(adapted, with permission, from "Grievances," by Dave Pratt, TRF 1999)

click here to download and print this letter (pdf file)

 

BY CERTIFIED MAIL

April 7, 2000

Earline Distant, Business Agent
International Brotherhood of Industrial Workers, Local 5270
1010 Seventeenth Ave.
New York, NY 10001

 

Dear Sister Distant,

I am contacting you regarding my grievance and the upcoming Step Three grievance hearing. In order to be well prepared for the hearing I am requesting the following:

That you contact me regarding a time to meet to review the presentation of my case. The best days for me to meet are on Tuesday and Saturday, in the afternoon.

That the following information be requested from the company: reports about previous safety complaints, my personnel file, and the company safety manual.

That statements be obtained from the witnesses involved in the case, including Donald Chauve, Wendy Peludo, and Marvin Barber, and that the local demand that they be released from work to attend the hearing.

Please contact me at work or at the number below to schedule the meeting to prepare for the hearing.

Thank you for your assistance.

In solidarity,


Matilda Knowles
345 Meadowbrook Road
Great Falls, New Jersey, 22024
(203) 456-9876


to ask a question about grievances
for a guide to getting your union to represent you
for a book on the rights of union stewards (English & Espanol)
for question and answer on changing your union


back to top


Sample Letter #5  To Inquire About Hiring Hall Procedures, Rules, and Lists

click here to download and print this letter (pdf file)

 

BY CERTIFIED MAIL

April 7, 2000
Bernard Weiner, President
United Construction Workers of America, Local 22
735 Grand Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 11211


Dear Brother Weiner,

I am a member of Local 22 and I seek work through its job referral procedures. I have reason to believe that I have been and am being discriminated against by Local 22 in job referrals.

In order to determine whether I have been or am being discriminated against, I ask you to send me the following information:

a) the names, addresses and telephone numbers of persons on the Local 22 job referral list(s), and of the persons who have been referred to jobs, the dates of referral, dates of hire, and dates of last preceding discharge;

b) the names, addresses and telephone numbers of persons who, in the past six months and continuing, have asked to be referred to jobs by Local 22 or have their names placed on a list for job referral;

c) the date or dates of each such request;

d) the date or dates of each referral of such person to a job, the name of the person referred, and the name of the employer, and the jobsite he/she was referred to;

e) the date or dates of each hire and of any subsequent layoff/discharge, the name of the person hired and/or laid off, the name of the employer and of the jobsite.

I am willing to pay a reasonable fee for reproducing the information requested.

Please send me this information to the address below or let me know when I can come to the office to obtain it. I ask to receive the information by April 21, 2000.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

 

Lance Wilde
203 West Tuckahoe Street
Darnelle, MI 10034
(313) 456-9876


to ask a question about hiring halls
for more information on rights and organizing for construction workers
for a Manual for Survival for Women in the Trades
for a booklet on Democracy in the Construction Trades
for more on hiring hall rights
for articles on construction unions

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Sample Letter #6  To Verify Your Eligibility To Run For Office

(adapted, with permission, from "Running for Local Union Office," by Dave Pratt, TRF 1999)

click here to download and print this letter (pdf file)


BY CERTIFIED MAIL

April 7, 2000
Bernard Weiner, Secretary Treasurer
United Industrial and Allied Workers of America, Local 99
735 Grand Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 11211

 

Dear Brother Weiner,

Please verify my eligibility to run for office in the upcoming Local 99 officers election. As per the UIAWA constitution, I will expect your response within five days.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,


Lance Wilde
SS#234-32-3200
203 West Tuckahoe Street
Darnelle, MI 10034
(313) 456-9876


to ask a question about running for office
for a summary of your legal rights
for a guide to running for local union office
for a guide to How to Get an Honest Union Election
for questions and answers on running for union office
for articles on running for union office

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Sample Letter #7  To Conduct Mailings in a Union Election Campaign

(adapted, with permission, from "Running for Local Union Office," by Dave Pratt, TRF 1999)

click here to download and print this letter (pdf file)

 

BY CERTIFIED MAIL

April 7, 2000

Rhonda Taylor, Secretary Treasurer
United Industrial and Allied Workers of America, Local 44
735 Grand Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 11211

 

Dear Sister Taylor,

Please consider this notification of our intention to do mailings to the entire membership of local 44 in support of the election campaign.

Please make available mailing labels for the entire membership. We plan to conduct a mailing on April 21, 2000.

Please inform us of any and all arrengements required to conduct these mailings, such as: cost of the labels and what means the local intends to use to conduct campaing mailings (office staff, mailing house). If you are using a mailing house, please inform us of its name and location. If you are using the office staff, please inform us of any additional cost.

We also intend to conduct targetted mailings to the following groups: local stewards, all warehouse employees, and female members.

Finally, I request that you inform me of any union lists, services, information or facilities which are offered to or used by any other candidates, in sufficient time for us to make similar use of these lists, services, or information.

I ask to receive this information by April 12, 2000. Please contact Lance Wilde at the address and phone below.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,


Lance Wilde
SS#234-32-3200
203 West Tuckahoe Street
Darnelle, MI 10034
(313) 456-9876


to ask a question about running for office
for a summary of your legal rights
for a guide to running for local union office
for a guide to How to Get an Honest Union Election
for questions and answers on running for union office
for articles on running for union office

back to top


Disclaimer: the information presented on this website is general and intended for educational purposes. It is not a substitute for practical legal advice on any specific situation.


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