How COVID-19 is Affecting Union Elections

Elizabeth Powell

September 16, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the September/October 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

COVID-19 has impacted APWU’s local and state elections, which were scheduled to take place throughout the months of the pandemic. As a result, local and state officers have been unable to schedule in-person membership meetings and participate in state conventions. During this crisis, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued several advisories, one of which is specifically applicable to union elections.

The DOL Advisories regard public disclosure reporting in areas affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), and union elections if a local or state affiliate has to cancel or postpone their convention when there is an election requirement. The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) recognized that due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, it may be difficult or impossible for some unions to conduct timely union officer elections.

OLMS issued an advisory stating that affected labor unions, whose principal office is located in the affected areas or whose reportable activities occurred in those areas, must make a good faith effort to conduct elections as required under the LMRDA in those affected areas. However, if local and state affiliates are unable to comply, they would be required to hold the election when reasonably practicable on a certain date.

If constitutional provisions mandate elections take place, the Department of Labor will require local and state affiliates to determine a reasonable date and subsequently begin the nomination and election process; this is not optional.

To assist local and state officers in complying with LMRDA provisions to conduct elections, the Secretary-Treasurer’s Department held Zoom trainings for local and state officers. Local officers can choose to utilize Zoom for membership meetings and local nominations. However, the local election is required to be conducted by secret ballot. State officers have the ability to utilize Zoom to facilitate their state convention and hold elections.

Congratulations to the Indiana Postal Workers, the first state affiliate to utilize Zoom and successfully hold their state convention and election. It can be done!

Compliance with LM-2, LM-3 and LM-4 Report Filing

The DOL extension to electronically file required LM reports due to COVID-19 ended on June 30. Locals who did not submit by June 30 are considered delinquent by the DOL. Filing LM reports is a legal requirement to remain in compliance with the LMRDA. It is not optional!

Local and state affiliates can incur serious ramifications if compliance is not adhered to. Local and state presidents will continue to be contacted if it is determined their LM report is delinquent according to the DOL.

If assistance is needed with Zoom or LM report filing, contact Annette August-Taylor at

Secretary-Treasurer Powell Honored with Shirley Chisholm Breakthrough Leader Award

On July 30, Secretary-Treasurer Powell was honored with the 2020 Shirley Chisholm Breakthrough Leader Award, named after the “unbought and unbossed” 1972 presidential candidate. The award was presented as part of The Summit for Civil Rights, an annual convening of civil rights leaders across labor, government, academia, faith and law to “respond to the powerful and dangerous intersection of enduring racial disparities, widening economic inequality, and rising political polarization throughout our entire society.”

The Summit honored Secretary-Treasurer Powell for her work as “a trailblazer, a mentor and a powerful role model and ally for all working women and men fighting to break through the barricades of gender, race and class that have too long walled off opportunity in America.”

“We have to continue the struggle for economic and social justice and for civil and human rights, while bonding together to protect our legacy, so that our youth can have a future,” said Secretary-Treasurer Powell.

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