Know Your Rights: The Right to Representation
Weingarten Rights involve the right to request and have a union representative at an investigatory interview that an employee reasonably believes may lead to discipline or “at which the employer seeks information to enable it to impose discipline or termination”… a protection enjoyed only by union members.
What happens if I get a notice of a meeting (48 Hour Notice)?
The employer has the right to meet with you concerning your performance. You have a right to a union representative. The first thing you should do is contact SEIU Local 1991 so that a union representative or steward will attend the meeting.
What happens if I am called into a meeting and I do not have a union representative?
You should state to the employer the following: “If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative be present at this meeting.” This statement invokes your Weingarten Rights. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that once you invoke your Weingarten Rights, you cannot be asked any questions without a union representative present. The NLRB stated that “any attempt by the employer to force the employee to answer questions or intimidate the employee will taint the session.”
What happens if I receive a notice that states the meeting will be held regardless of whether a union representative is present?
As stated above, you cannot be asked questions once you invoke your Weingarten Rights. Further, the NLRB ruled that “if there are no representatives available, the employer must make all reasonable efforts to accommodate the scheduling conflict.” In other words, if SEIU Local 1991 is unable to provide a union representative because no one is available, the employer must make a reasonable effort to reschedule the meeting to a time when a union representative is available.
Your Weingarten Rights are a very important way to protect your employment. If you receive notice of a meeting, contact SEIU Local 1991 immediately. If you are called into a meeting and a union representative is not present, invoke your Weingarten Rights and do not answer any questions. You have rights, and SEIU Local 1991 is here to protect those rights. If you think the conversation is disciplinary in nature, follow these important steps, often referred to as your… “Weingarten Rights”
Demand Union representation. You must ask for union representation before or during an interview. Management does not have to inform you of this right, but they must honor your request for representation.
Refuse to proceed without union representation. A questioner must be told of your desire for union representation. Refusal to cooperate on your part can be viewed as insubordination. If management refuses to allow you union representation, stay in the room, but remain silent.
Do not make any written or verbal statement of guilt or innocence without your union representative present. You cannot be forced to make a statement without such representation. The most appropriate response in this situation is to make NO statement-claiming innocence is considered to be a statement. Then ask for union representation.
Do not waive your right to union representation. If you proceed in questioning without union representation, you have waived your right to representation, and any statement you make can be used against you.
The Weingarten Rights do not apply to everyday conversations between members and supervisors regarding regular job duties or performance.
This statement could save your job:
If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative be present at the meeting.
If you have any work-related problems, follow these guidelines:
1. Do not resign or abandon your work location.
2. All communication with your Union is strictly confidential.
3. Document, in writing, the incident.
4. Keep any records that relate to the incident.
5. Representation is strongly advised.
6. Timeliness is important— don’t delay.
7. Use your contract as a guide.
8. Follow orders unless there is potential for personal injury— you can grieve the orders later.
9. Call your SEIU Local 1991 Representative for help. (305.620.6555)
These rights are called “Weingarten Rights” based on a 1975 Supreme Court decision (NLRB vs. J. Weingarten). As with all rights, if we do not use them we lose them.