Your Weingarten Rights

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WHAT ARE WEINGARTEN RIGHTS

In 1975, the Supreme Court ruled in the case National Labor Relations Board v. Weingarten that a union member has a right to be represented by the union in any investigatory interview. Non-union members are not covered by this right.

However, employers are under no obligation to inform employees about their “Weingarten Rights.” Union members, and non-members for that matter, are responsible for informing themselves and making their own decisions. If a union member is involved in any interview that might result in any form of disciplinary action against that member, the FEA/TALC advises that member to demand recognition of his or her Weingarten Rights. To exercise his or her rights under the Weingarten decision, he or she must assertively request union representation before the meeting is to proceed. The Florida Educators Association suggests repeating the following statement until your Weingarten Rights are applied:

“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or could affect my personal working conditions, I am asserting my Weingarten Right and request that a Union Representative be present at this meeting.”

Once Weingarten is requested, the employer cannot continue interviewing the employee without a union representative present. The employer, however, can continue the investigation without interviewing the suspect employee. It is within the employer’s power to discontinue the employee interview and to conduct the investigation through other means.

When a union rep is present during the interview, his or her role is purely assistive. The employer is under no obligation to “bargain” with the union rep with regard to the investigation. The role of the union rep is to assist the member under investigation, ask clarifying questions, offer additional information, suggest witnesses or offer relevant facts.

Reps can:

  • Stop the boss from harassing or abusing the worker;
  • Meet with the employee BEFORE an investigatory meeting;
  • Ask the supervisor to clarify any questions the member may not understand;
  • Advise the worker how to answer questions specifically and with the most clarity;
  • Provide the boss with additional information when the questions have ended;
  • Protect the rights established in the Collective Bargaining Agreement
  • Request a recess during the meeting if you need more time to talk privately with the member.
  • Request that the meeting continue another time if information is presented that requires additional investigation or preparation

The rep’s job is to ensure that the member employee’s version of the story is heard and on the record. The rep cannot, in any way, impede the interview process.

Reps Cannot:

  • Negotiate or bargain with regard to the issue
  • Advise the employee NOT to answer a question
  • Advise the employee to lie or distort the truth
  • Otherwise disrupt the investigatory process

It is important to remember that union representation does not apply to non-union members. Only dues-paying union members have the power to assert Weingarten Rights.

Here at North Fort Myers High School, your union reps are:

Brenda Carlson: Lead Rep

Michael Andoscia: Co Rep: Webmaster

Donna Robson: Co Rep

Dawn Shilling: Co Rep

             Wendy Walters-Haas: Co-Rep

You can ask for a particular rep with whom you feel comfortable. If availability allows, your personal preference WILL be respected.

We are here to help. Please do not hesitate to demand adherence to your Weingarten Rights if you are involved in any interview that may result in disciplinary action taken against you. You have rights that go along with your status as a union member! Assert them!

FEA Advice If Trouble Strikes

Here is some practical advice, which you should use to protect your rights until help arrives:

  1. If confronted with charges, remain calm and courteous.
  2. Ask for your Union/Association Representative to be present. If your rep is not available, ask to reschedule the meeting.
  3. Listen carefully to accusations. Then ask for time to think or to secure information.
  4. Make written notes of the events which occur in any confrontation or accusatory session, or of any other action which appears to be related. Take down every detail, including names of witnesses and others involved while the details are fresh in your mind.
  5. In the event of a confrontation or threat to your job, do NOT resign or sign any papers or agreement.
  6. Notify your Association Representative and the Union/Association office if trouble strikes immediately.

For more information, see:

https://feaweb.org/your-rights

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/weingarten-rights-union-representation-investigative-interviews.html 

https://www.umass.edu/usa/weingarten.htm