FAQ: Unhappy With Union Representation

Question

“When [AFGE] union members feel they are not being represented properly what options do we have in removing elected positions? Recall? Special election?  Signature collection? Bid of no confidence?”

Answer

The union is a Democratic organization.  Oversight of the union is provided through a number of disparate entities that include internal governance of the local union through a Constitution and By-Laws, a national council, a national union (like AFGE), the Department of Labor (Democratic processes and financial compliance), the Federal Labor Relations Authority (fair representation), and even Agencies to a lessor extent.  In other words, federal unions are, in reality, heavily monitored and regulated in comparison to private sector unions.

However, the most basic and effective means of regulation and registration of member dissatisfaction is the Democratic process, especially at the local level, in that the effectiveness of elected representatives of a union is measured through election results.  In other words, if they are doing a “bad job” they will simply not be reelected by the membership they have disenfranchised.

There are provisions for “recall” or “impeachment” or something analogous.  Such provisions are normally contained in the local Constitution and By-Laws as well as the national council Constitution and the AFGE Constitution and By_laws.  For example, Article XXIII of the AFGE Constitution,  entitled Offenses, Trials, Penalties, Appeals, provides the internal regulations and offenses for which elected officers can be removed.  They are limited.  Once again, AFGE relies upon Democratic elections at all levels of the union as a means of regulating member dissatisfaction with union officers.

For further information, consult your local union Constitution and By-Laws, your national Council Constitution and by-laws, and the AFGE Constitution.

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