That is a more interesting question than you might think—and worthy of some thought given how important leadership can be. Some unions, like NWSEO and NLRBU demand that a member be an active federal employee to be their National President, while others, such as NTEU, do not require that their top leader ever spend a moment in the shoes of a federal employee–and gives them much lower dues rates if they join and run. Here is a quick overview of the requirements for running each of the unions.

The NLRBU flatly prohibits anyone other than an active employee of the NLRB from holding any office or even being a member.

Article V Membership

Section 1.  Any employees of the Board shall be eligible for membership in the Union. Article X- Elections– Section 1(b).

Only members of the Union may be nominated, elected, or appointed to any position within the Union, including any office filled by election or appointment under this Article or to any position filed by appointment as set forth in Article IX

CREA allows retirees and former CREA bargaining unit members to remain members, but bars them from voting or holding office.

Article II- Membership, Section 5

Members, as defined above, who have retired or left the CREA bargaining unit under honorable conditions, shall be eligible for an “associate membership” per the terms of Article 5 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Constitution. Associate members may participate in the Federation’s Union Privilege Program but shall not be eligible to vote or hold office.

NATCA does the same as CREA.

The Association may accept associate members and other categories of members under rules and regulations established by the National Executive Board.…Associate and retired members shall be entitled to all privileges and benefits of membership, except the right to vote and hold office.

NWSEO also limits elected office only to active members, who are generally defined as those actively working for the federal government, federal contractors or any employer involved in atmospheric and environmental sciences. However, once a member ceases to be an active employee in that community, the union forces them to leave elective union office under one of two formulas. Those who retire can serve out their term while those who leave before taking federal retirement must leave office immediately.

Article IV- Membership

A National and Regional officer who retires from the Federal government before their term of office expires may complete that term at the pleasure of the National Council. National and Regional officers who resign from the Federal government before their term expires shall relinquish such office, effective with their resignation.

NAGE allows former members to remain members, but gives them an option. If they want to pay reduced dues they may, but if they want to run for office they must pay the same dues as an active federal employee member. It emphasizes that all members eligible to run for office will be treated equally.

Article V- Eligibility for Membership– Section 5.

A member, upon retirement or separation from employment with federal, state, county, municipal or a political subdivision, government or corporation doing business with the federal, state, county and municipal government, or any other business enterprise, is entitled to become a retired member. However, members who retire and wish to retain NAGE insurance and other benefits at a reduced annual cost may do so. To qualify for reduced cost, such retiree must have been a member for five (5) or more years or a chartered member. Such retired member can attend local meetings but may neither vote nor hold local office unless he/she is a full dues paying member in good standing, and has received a waiver from the National Executive Committee.

AFGE does something very similar.

NTEU– On the most liberal end of the spectrum is NTEU. It not only allows retirees, former federal employees, and hired staff members who have never been federal employee to run for the union’s top office, but it gives them a deeply discounted dues rate. For example, NTEU just elected two former staff members without any federal experience as National President and National Executive Vice President. On its latest DOL report, NTEU stated it paid them a combined salary of $596,000 in fiscal 2014. Active federal employees paid at the top of their salary scale pay up to $499 a year in national dues according to the DOL report to be eligible to run for office. However, under the NTEU Constitution staff members pay only $32.00 a year to the national to be eligible for elected office. (In contrast, an Associate Member pays $35.00 in annual dues, but does not have the right to run for elected office.) The economic advantage for the staff member is obvious, and this allows the union to search outside the ranks of federal employees for prospective future executives, hire them on to staff, and then let them launch election campaigns against any and all comers. This approach to leadership development is closest to a classic business model where corporate presidents or CEOs are chosen from the outside board of directors or even via a world-wide search process. (FEDSMILL.com makes no comment on whether the NTEU approach satisfies the federal Standards of Conduct requirement that all members have “equal rights” nor even IRS and OASDI rules about taxable income in kind. This is another one of those areas where we advise that if you want to make similar changes seek competent legal advice.)

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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