The Role of the Local Trustee

Elizabeth Powell

June 3, 2019

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(This article first appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

Local trustees are the financial gatekeepers of local finances and ensure local officers are maintaining fiduciary responsibilities. Whether local trustees are elected or appointed, the responsibilities of the position should not be a customary rubber stamp of local practices that are in conflict with Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provisions.

The trustee position should not be held by a member of the local executive board, as this will cause a conflict of interest for the trustee and the financial oversight required of the position. A trustee’s primary task is ensuring that all union resources (money/assets) are used for legitimate union purposes as authorized by your membership, in accordance with your local constitution and bylaws. In addition, trustees should ensure that your local is complying with legal requirements for financial reporting, recordkeeping and bonding.

Each local affiliate should have set time frames for trustees to conduct an audit. Local audits should be conducted yearly at a minimum. If there is no constitutional language, a motion would be needed to establish these time frames, and the constitution should be amended to provide for periodic internal audits. During the audit, trustees should review disbursements, receipts, DOL and IRS compliance, and conduct an inventory of local assets. LMRDA provisions require officers and employees of the union to ensure that union funds and other assets be used solely for the benefit of the union and its members.

Local officers should ensure measures are taken to protect day-to-day administrative responsibilities, in the event of unforeseen circumstances. There should be backup procedures in place for computer financial files, password access, QuickBooks access and other financial banking requirements. These and other important directivesshould be stored in a locked, fireproof cabinet.

Having policies and procedures in place means acceptable and unacceptable practices are defined. Written policies and procedures are clear, reflect the values and principals of your local, and ensure uniformity and consistency in decision making and operational procedures. They can clarify functions, responsibilities and establish accountability. Policies and procedures assist with the day to-day managing of your local and can be invaluable in ensuring the local is running in an efficient and businesslike manner. Problems can be handled quickly and effectively through existing policies that have the ability to maintain direction of the local even during periods of change.

When implementing policies, consider involving officers and stewards. This will promote awareness, understanding, and ownership when a policy is implemented. Present and explain the policy to your local membership and move to adopt it. Local union officers should consider implementing the following polices: Travel and Expense policy, LWOP and other compensation policies, Computer Access and Internet policy, and local Grievance Handling policy. If you currently have policies in place, review them regularly to ensure they are current and in line with changes within the local.

Secretary-Treasurer's Training

Be sure to register for the next Secretary-Treasurer’s Training, to be held in Las Vegas, NV from Friday, Oct. 25 - Sunday, Oct. 27. Local Officers will be able to register for QuickBooks Beginners, QuickBooks Advanced, and officer’s Fiduciary Responsibilities Training. The Secretary-Treasurer’s department strongly advises elected officials, specifically local presidents and treasurers, to attend at least one training session a year.






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