Guidelines set for distribution of campaign literature

Published: August 13, 2018

The SMART Transportation Division elections set for this autumn have generated questions concerning the distribution of campaign material. The following information addresses questions posed by those considering running for office who wish to obtain membership lists for use in campaigning.

Under U.S. Department of Labor rules, all candidates for union office have a right under the law to have campaign literature distributed to the membership by the union at the candidate’s expense. The union must honor requests for distribution of literature to all members in good standing.

A member need not be formally nominated to be entitled to distribute campaign literature.

Campaign material must be mailed out by the Local Secretary, Treasurer or Secretary-Treasurer upon request but must be furnished in envelopes which are already stuffed, sealed and with proper postage affixed.

Each candidate must be treated equally with respect to the cost of distributing campaign literature. There is no requirement that the union distribute literature free of charge. However, if a union distributes any candidate’s literature without charge, all other candidates should be notified that they are also entitled to have their literature distributed without charge.

If it is discovered that a candidate has used a “personal” mailing list which was created or obtained as a result of the candidate (or a supporter) serving as an officer or in a union job, the list should be made available to all other candidates.

A union may not limit the number of mailings which a candidate is permitted to make.

A union may require candidates to pay in advance for campaign literature distributions, if such requirement is applied uniformly to all candidates.

A union may not regulate the contents of campaign literature it is asked to distribute and may not require that it be permitted to read the literature before distribution. The union may not censor campaign literature in any way, even if the literature includes derogatory remarks about other candidates.

Bona fide candidates (i.e., those who have been nominated for office) can contact the office of the SMART Transportation Division president to receive mailing lists of their local’s or LCA’s voters. We do not provide email addresses or telephone numbers and, as a courtesy to our membership, it is our policy that phone numbers and email addresses should not be distributed or used in campaigning.

This office can provide by email to duly nominated candidates a requested postal mailing list suitable for producing mailing labels. The minimum charge to obtain printed mailing labels is $66.40, with an extra charge of $0.0332 per label in excess of 2,000. A hard-copy printout of the list costs $50, with an additional $0.50 per 500 in excess of 2,000. The above covers time, material and use of equipment, plus postage where applicable.

Requests for mailing lists should be addressed to SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich and can be emailed to president_td@smart-union.org, or candidates can call (216) 228-9400, and ask to speak to a representative in the President’s Department. This office will reach out to ensure the member requesting the information is a bona fide candidate.

In addition, all candidates, upon request, must be granted access by the local secretary, treasurer or secretary-treasurer to inspect the voter eligibility list once within 30 days of the date of tabulation. No copies of the eligibility list are to be provided or carried away by the candidate.

Additional questions should be directed to the office of the President of the Transportation Division.