As the acting solicitor of labor, I oversee enforcement of more than 180 labor and employment laws, including those that protect the safety and health, wages and hours, and retirement security of American workers. The Department of Labor also defends certain rights of rank-and-file union members.
Regulations regarding officer elections within private-sector unions — written pursuant to the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 — make the Labor Department responsible for “safeguarding democratic processes.” Secret ballots are used to protect “the right of a member to vote for and otherwise support the candidates of his choice without being subject to penalty, discipline, or improper interference or reprisal of any kind by the labor organization conducting the election or any officer or member thereof.” We take this responsibility seriously. At any given time, the department has approximately 35 pending cases that deal with purported union election violations, with a number of those specifically dealing with secret-ballot requirements.
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