One of the most valuable protections a worker has is the right to representation when called in by your employer or management. A steward’s presence as an union advocate can sometimes mean the difference between someone being railroaded out of a job or falsely accused, and not having justice prevail. Weingarten Rights are key when discussing representation. In 1975, the US Supreme Court said that during an investigatory interview, employees have the right to request union assistance and can refuse to answer questions until the request is honored.
Under Weingarten, in order for the worker to have the legal right to representation during a meeting with management, the following conditions must be met:
1) Is it an investigatory interview?
If the employee is expected to answer questions concerning wrongdoing that might lead to his dismissal or discipline he is eligible for union representation. Discussions pertaining to job performance do not automatically include the right to representation. The right entails only in situations where it could lead to discipline.
2) Does the employee believe that the discussion may lead to discipline?
Whether the belief is reasonable or not,it is a judgement call based on the circumstances. If the employer merely wants to convey info to a worker then representation is not necessary. However, the burden falls on the worker to decide motive.
Unlike the police MIRANDA RIGHTS, where your right to silence is given prior to speaking, employers have no legal obligation to advise a worker of their right to representation. It is up to the individual employees to know their rights. So, a good rule is to stay cool, quiet and respectful, if urged by employer to discuss the matter.
Call for your Rep and present the following Declaration:
‘WEINGARTEN DECLARATION’ (aka Weingarten Rights)
For workers’ own protection, workers should be instructed to read or hand this statement to management before the start of any meeting that could lead to discipline:
“IF THE DISCUSSION I AM BEING ASKED TO ENTER INTO COULD IN ANYWAY LEAD TO MY DISCIPLINE OR TERMINATION, OR AFFECT MY PERSONAL WORKING CONDITION, I ASK THAT A UNION STEWARD, REPRESENTATIVE, OR OFFICER BE PRESENT. UNLESS I HAVE THIS UNION REPRESENTATION I RESPECTFULLY CHOOSE NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS DISCUSSION’.
In the future, we will again be distributing ‘WEINGARTEN RIGHTS’ cards for each union member to add to their tool kit. Know your rights and use them when needed.
IATSE Local 205