ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

September 29, 2011

2011.09.29: Union Members’ Free Speech Rights

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 4:50 PM
To: [C.]
Subject: Union Members’ Free Speech Rights

To amplify (having gotten back from court), our free speech rights are clear:

The Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) protects union members’ free speech, including the right to criticize union officials. 29 USC § 411(a)(2), Indeed, violation of this right exposes the union to penalties. 29 USC § 609.

As one guide summarizes, “The union can no more curtail the speech and assembly of its members that government can curtail the speech and assembly of its citizens.” Outten, Rabin & Lipman, The Rights of Employees and Union Members (ACLU Handbook), 2d ed. (1994), at 415.

In other words, the right of criticism within the union is — like anywhere else — an essential part of free speech. Neither those being criticized, nor anyone else, has the authority to silence critics. If union leaders don’t like being criticized, they can defend themselves, and/or express criticism of their own.

Members can then evaluate competing arguments and make their own democratic decision.

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 2:50 PM
To: [C.]
Subject: Re: Campaign Statement

The Election Committee has no authority legally restrict members’ rights to criticize candidates for union office.

Sent from my iPhone
On Sep 29, 2011, at 14:39, [C.] wrote:

A clear rule about campaigning is that there be nothing negative, only why to vote for one person + no attacks on anyone. I have reiterated this rule several times already.
This endorsement for Richard crosses the line briefly, however unintentionally.
No violations permitted.
ALAA needs appropriate apologies right away.
Yes, this curtails free speech. It is necessary for the better good of our union. Thus, it has been a rule clearly stated by + on behalf of the election committee, w/ no objection by the way.

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

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