Frequently Asked Questions – Election of Conference Delegates and Officers

Can my conference’s delegates to the ASC annual meeting be elected by a secret ballot vote of the members who attend the conference’s fall or spring meeting?

 No.  If they are, they cannot vote for the chair of the ASC (under federal law) or for the rest of the ASC executive committee (under the ASC constitution).  

Can the officers of my conference serve as delegates by virtue of their status as officers?

Yes, if (1) the officers are elected by secret ballot vote of the entire membership, and (2) the constitution and bylaws of the constitution specify that the officers also represent the conference as delegates.  (Note: According to the ASC constitution, the president of each conference must be a delegate to the ASC meeting.)

Can I elect officers at a meeting of the conference, and separately elect delegates via secret ballot of the entire membership?

Yes, except that according to the ASC constitution, the president must be a delegate to the ASC meeting, so in order to vote for the ASC chair, the president must be elected by secret ballot vote of the entire membership.

Do I have to elect officers or delegates electronically in order to comply with federal law or AAUP requirements?

No.  You may do a secret ballot election via either electronic or paper balloting.  The electronic balloting is simply an option to reduce the cost and the administrative burden on the conference. 

How much advance notice must conference members receive before the delegate elections?

For elections that are required to be held by secret ballot – such as the election of delegates who will be electing the ASC chair – a notice of election must be mailed to each member at his or her last known home address at least fifteen calendar days before the delegate election. A statement in the conference’s constitution or bylaws that the election will be held at a particular time will not substitute for this mailed notice. [29 C.F.R. § 452.99]

What information has to be included in the notice of the election?

The date, time and place of the election, and the offices that are being filled.  In the words of the LMRDA, “it must be in such form as to be reasonably calculated to inform the members of the impending election.” [29 C.F.R. § 452.99]

Will the national office mail the notice of election for my conference?

If your conference participates in the national AAUP’s electronic elections, then the national will mail the notice of election for you, at the beginning of March.

Can the notice for the nominations and the election be combined into one notice?

 Yes, if it meets the requirements for both notices (that is, if it is sent at least 15 days before the election, and if it apprises members of the method by which to offer nominations).  [29 C.F.R. § 452.99]

Are there specific requirements for how the conference conducts the nominating process (as opposed to the election) for its delegates?

Generally, no.  Members must be informed of the fact that delegates will be elected, as well as the time, place, and form for submitting nominations.  But the notice of nomination doesn’t have to go out fifteen days before the nominations (as the notice of election does), and it doesn’t have to be mailed.  It does need to comport with any requirements that the conference’s own constitution or bylaws set out.  [29 C.F.R. § 452.56]

Can we provide notice of the delegate nomination period by publishing the call for nominations in the conference newspaper?

Yes, as long as the conference newspaper goes to all members; the notice in the paper is prominent enough to be seen by all members in good standing; and it’s timely and sufficiently detailed – that is, that members receive it in sufficient time to be fully informed about the proper method for making nominations and able to make a nomination if they desire.  [29 C.F.R. § 452.56]

Can we provide notice of the delegate nomination period via email?

Yes, as long as it informs all members in good standing in sufficient time to permit them to nominate the candidates of their choice.  [29 C.F.R. § 452.56]

Can we make nominations on the floor of a meeting? 

 Yes, as long as all members have a reasonable opportunity to nominate (which may be unlikely at a conference meeting, given the dispersal of members over an entire state) and the elections themselves are still done by secret ballot of the entire conference membership.  [29 C.F.R. § 452.57]

Can people nominate themselves to be delegates?

Yes.  But there must be some nomination method in addition to self-nomination, so that members can nominate candidates of their choice.  [29 C.F.R. § 452.58]

Can there be write-in candidates for delegates?

That’s up to each conference.  The LMRDA doesn’t require or prohibit write-in candidates.  As the Act says, “These matters are governed by appropriate provisions of the union’s constitution and bylaws, applicable resolutions, or the established practice of the union.”  [29 C.F.R. § 452.64]

Does my conference have to comply with the election requirements described above for both delegates and officers, if those offices are filled separately?

The federal statute setting out the requirements above (the LMRDA) applies only to the election of union officers.  In this context, that means that the election of delegates to the ASC meeting at which the chair is elected is covered, but not other elections.  However, it makes sense to elect all of the delegates the same way each year. 1

Endnote

1.   In addition to the coverage of the election of the ASC chair by the LMRDA, it recently appeared that the law might also cover the election of all conference officers, particularly those conferences including collective bargaining chapters, but possibly all conferences.  This issue is, however, in a state of flux.  In brief, from the enactment of the LMRDA in 1959 until 2003, it was clear that most or all AAUP state conferences were not covered. In 2003, the DOL decided to broaden its definition of covered entity. In particular, it applied the LMRDA to so-called “intermediate bodies,” and AAUP state conferences fell within the broader definition. In March 2008, a federal court upheld the new interpretation against a challenge brought by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. 

The new administration that took office in January 2009 may or may not revert to the prior long-standing definition.  The DOL has indicated that it is re-considering the issue, but has not issued a definitive ruling.  We feel it is unlikely, though, that the DOL would aggressively enforce the new interpretation without further study. We invite state conference officers to seek independent legal advice and to check with the national AAUP Legal Department about further developments.  

Approved by ASC EC – October 28, 2009