Education

What you should know as an Employee

Your Rights!

”¬†If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working condition, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions.”

 

An employer that has followed a past practice of allowing stewards to be present when supervisors announce discipline, must maintain the practice during the contract term. Refusing to allow a steward to attend would constitute an unlawful unilateral change.

Rights of Stewards

Employers often assert that the only role of a steward at an investigatory interview is to observe the discussion, in other words to be a silent witness. The Supreme Court, however, clearly acknowledged a steward’s right to assist and counsel workers during the interview. Decided cases establish the following procedures:

When the steward arrives, the supervisor must inform the steward of the subject matter of the interview, i.e. the type of misconduct for which discipline is being considered (theft, lateness, drugs, etc.)

The steward must be allowed to take the worker aside for a private pre-interview conference before questioning begins.

The steward must be allowed to speak during the interview. However, the steward does not have the right to bargain over the purpose of the interview.

The steward can request that the supervisor clarify a question so that the worker can understand what is being asked.

After a question is asked, the steward can give advice on how to answer.

When the questioning ends, the steward can provide additional information to the supervisor.

It must be emphasized that if the Weingarten rules are complied with, stewards have no right to tell workers not to answer questions, or to give false answers. Workers can be disciplined if they refuse to answer questions.

Weingarten Rights

The Rules

Under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision, when an investigatory interview occurs, the following rules apply:

RULE 1: The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request.

RULE 2: After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from among three options. The Employer must either:

  • Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately¬† with the employee; or
  • Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
  • Give the employee a choice of:(2) ending the interview.
  • (1) having the interview without representation or

RULE 3: If the employer denies the request for union representation, and continues to ask questions, it commits an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline the employee for such a refusal.

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