Archive for the ‘U.S. DoL’ Category

Campaign Conduct for Local, International Office

Monday, March 15th, 2010

In conjunction with the 98th Convention of the American Federation of Musicians, Local officers and convention delegates will be involved in the political process as it affects the highest level of union administration. Elections of union officers are regulated by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). Violations of the LMRDA can have serious consequences. The Department of Labor (DOL) investigates and will readily require a re-election if it concludes that violations have taken place that may have affected the outcome of the election. In particular, the Act expressly prohibits the use of union funds and facilities in support of any candidate.

To guard against any potential violations of the Act, we present a brief review of the limitations the Act imposes on campaign conduct. The emphasis here will be on guidelines for Local Union activities, although there will be some discussion of conduct by individual candidates for office as well. Potential candidates for International office may receive additional information on the conduct of their activities upon written request to the AFM President’s Office, 1501 Broadway, Suite 600, New York, NY 10036; Fax (212) 764-6134. These guidelines are applicable to any election activities, whether International or Local. (Note: Canadian Locals are not required to observe the mandates of the LMRDA for Local elections; however, they are required to observe these regulations when their activities relate to the election of International officers or convention delegates or alternate delegates, in accordance with Article 5, Section 23-24(b) of the AFM Bylaws.) We also discuss the rules regarding the election of convention delegates.

Campaign Conduct
1) It is illegal for any candidate to send out his or her campaign literature: (a) on Federation or Local stationery; or (b) on stationery that contains the Federation or any Local letterhead or logo; or (c) in any other format that conveys the message that the candidate is being endorsed by the Federation, his or her Local or another Local, or any entity affiliated with the Federation (e.g., RMA, RMAC, ICSOM, ROPA, OCSM, TMA). This conduct is prohibited even if the individual candidate provides reimbursement for the actual costs of the stationery, etc.

2) It is unlawful for a candidate to use the facilities (e.g., telephone, photocopy machines, postage meters, fax machines, computers) of any of the organizations listed above. The prohibition on using Union computers and modems means that candidates and their supporters may not send or forward campaign material via e-mail from a Union computer or a Union e-mail address. This conduct is illegal even if the individual candidate provides reimbursement for the actual costs of the telephones, photocopying, internet service provider, etc.

3) It is unlawful for any official union publication (e.g., the International Musician, any Local newsletter, or players conference newsletter) to include any editorial or article that could reasonably be construed as endorsing a particular candidate or supporting that individual’s candidacy. Of course, news stories or photographs that accurately report any newsworthy event, and in so doing, mention an individual’s accomplishments — such as serving as chief negotiator in successfully concluded collective bargaining negotiations — are not illegal even though they may improve the candidate’s image as a union leader.

It should be noted that the DOL permits union publications to reserve a “battle page” in which all candidates for union office are given equal space to present their statement of reasons why they should be elected. The law does not require a union publication to include a battle page; it is strictly up to each Local or player conference to decide if it wishes to do so.

Locals are cautioned that implementing a battle page for an International election raises myriad logistical concerns not experienced when providing a battle page for Local elections. Locals considering such a page for the upcoming International elections should immediately seek the advice of the AFM’s General Counsel by contacting the AFM President’s Office in writing.

4) It is illegal for a union to compensate or reimburse any candidate for expenses incurred (e.g., transportation or hotel bill) while that individual is engaged in political campaigning. However, it is permissible for a candidate to be reimbursed for expenses incurred in conducting legitimate union activities, even if on that same trip he or she also engages in campaigning where that campaigning is “incidental” to conducting legitimate union business. For example, if a member of the International Executive Board (who is also a candidate for office) is assigned by the AFM President to represent the AFM at a conference, then it is lawful for that individual to engage in informal campaigning after the close of conference business sessions. (The fact that his or her trip is paid for by the AFM is lawful so long as the IEB member is on legitimate union business and confines his campaigning activities to periods of time that are outside the business for which the trip is made.)

No campaigning by any candidate should take place during official conference sessions.

5) It is unlawful for any candidate for union office to accept campaign contributions from any employer (e.g., recording company, motion picture studio or any other entity that falls within the broad definition of an “employer” including employers who are entirely unrelated to the music business). This is an area in which the DOL has taken a very expansive view of its authority to set aside elections.

Electing Delegates
Delegates to the AFM Convention must be elected in conformity with Article 5, Section 23 of the AFM Bylaws. That article provides that “All Local Officers must be nominated and elected in conformity with Local and Federation laws and, except for Canadian Locals, in conformity with the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, as amended. All Delegates and alternate Delegates to AFM Conventions must be nominated and elected in conformity with Local and Federation laws and in conformity with the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, as amended. In elections of Local Officers, Convention Delegates and alternate Delegates, no vote shall be counted for a person who has not been duly nominated.”

The AFM Bylaws further provide (in Article 17, Section 5) that, “Delegates to the Convention (and alternates for those Delegates who may be unable to attend the sessions) shall be elected by the Locals either an annual, regular or special meetings, or at regular or special elections, but in any event, by secret ballot. At lease 15 days prior to the election of Delegates, notice of the election shall be mailed by the Local to the last known home address of each member in good standing. Elections in violation of this law are null and void.”

All delegates to the Convention must, therefore, be elected by secret ballot. That includes Local Officers who are designated as Convention delegates by virtue of their office by their Local bylaws. In those cases where a Local Officer is appointed to fill a vacancy in an office that includes a designation as a delegate by virtue of office, that Officer must subsequently be elected as a delegate by secret ballot. No delegates who are not elected in this manner will be seated at the Convention.

Finally, as provided by Article 17, Section 7 of the AFM Bylaws, “No member shall be permitted to represent more than one Local, nor shall members be permitted to act as Delegates for a Local unless they are full members in good standing in that Local.”

Convention Mailing Labels

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Candidates for International Office may purchase mailing labels for all delegates to the Convention. The cost for the Convention Delegate labels is $50 per set. All labels will be printed on white Avery 5160 mailing labels. Interested candidates may order mailing labels through the Federation Headquarters, Attn: Convention Labels. Please make checks payable to the American Federation of Musicians (all requests must include payment). If you have any questions, please call (212) 869-1330, x1232.

Local Recordkeeping 2010

Monday, January 25th, 2010

For local officers, the New Year brings opportunities to start the year resolute to once again serve the membership at the highest level, and also, to refine the duty of recordkeeping and reporting. This article will provide information and reminders to locals, which may assist with this duty.

In compliance with the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) of 1959, as amended, unions have the responsibility to file certain documents and records with the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS). The annual LM report for US locals (LM 2, 3, or 4), and the local’s constitution and bylaws, are two of the most important documents that locals are required to file regularly with the OLMS. Additionally, locals are required to file any changes and updates to the local bylaws with the OLMS. This document is a public record, and as such, must be up to date and accurate. For US locals, the form 990 or e-card are also required reporting documents to be filed in a timely manner with the IRS.

It is important to ensure that locals’ LM reports are filed in a timely manner with the OLMS. Failure to do so sets up red flags and is an invitation for a compliance audit with the Department of Labor (DOL). It is equally important to maintain accuracy in annual reporting and from one year’s LM report to the next. For instance, if your local ended last year’s report with a balance of $5,000 in an operating account, it is important that your records reflect an identical opening balance for that account. Other actions that can bring negative attention to the LM report are simple math mistakes on the LM forms. It is advisable to always have a second set of eyes proof the LM report prior to sending it to the government. Accuracy and veracity are a priority in filing LM reports and the form 990 or e-card. All records backing up any LM or 990 reporting must be maintained for a minimum of five years, in order to verify the reports with the DOL or IRS if need be.

For more information on LM reporting and other compliance and labor matters, visit the Department of Labor website at: This site contains a wealth of information helpful to locals.

In order to have the information necessary to file accurate LM reports, it is highly recommended that locals maintain accurate day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month records. Every transaction, whether an expenditure or a receipt of funds, should be immediately notated, outlining the purpose for the expense or receipt of funds. A special note should be made regarding cash transactions, since cash transactions can be problematic if they are not properly notated. Anytime cash is received as payment, a receipt must be provided to the employee or officer on the spot, with clear notation for the records. Likewise, if cash is provided as a method of payment, be sure to obtain a receipt from the vendor to whom payment was made. Cash should be kept in a safe, and not in an office drawer or other unsecure location.

Another unnecessary pitfall among some locals is the practice of one local officer signing a blank check and leaving it with another officer to use in the course of business. Just as a reminder, this is not an acceptable practice and is an invitation for misuse of local union funds. Checks should never contain a signature unless fully executed in all other lines. All checks should require a dual signature. This is a common sense check and balance for financial responsibilities.

Additional elements germane to good recordkeeping and to safeguard your local are:

  • Reconcile bank statements monthly.
  • Prepare a quarterly financial statement and share it with your board.
  • Do not use ATM cards (debit cards) for any local purchases.
  • Make copies of checks for your records prior to any deposit.
  • Keep detailed records of any credit card purchases.
  • Do not mix personal and business accounts and expenditures.
  • Keep hard copy files to back up electronic files.

For more information or assistance, your AFM International Representative (IR) is available via phone, Internet, fax, and if necessary, in-person visits. If your local is contacted by the DOL for a compliance audit, please contact your IR right away. Click here for IR contact information.