Right to Representation

As a union member, you have Weingarten rights during investigatory interviews. An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor questions you to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks you to defend your conduct.

If you have a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from what you say, you have the right to request union representation. Management is not required to inform you of your Weingarten rights; it is your responsibility to know and request.

When you make the request for a union representative to be present management has three

options:

(1) it can stop questioning until the representative arrives.

(2) it can call off the interview or,

(3) it can tell the employee that it will call off the interview unless you voluntarily gives up your right

to a union representative (an option you should always refuse.)

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, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Without representation present, I choose not to participate in this discussion.”

Q. What is my right to representation?

A. As a URA-AFT member you (and other unionized employees) have Weingarten rights (right to union representation) during investigatory interviews. If your supervisor questions you to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks you to defend your conduct, that is considered an investigatory interview. If this is happening, you should call your steward, campus lead steward or union office immediately.

Source: Lincoln Land Community College Facility Services Union, IFT Local 6257


Q. Do I have a right to know the purpose of a meeting before it begins?

A. Yes, you can always ask the nature of any meeting before or during the meeting.


Q. Does management have to tell me that I have a right to this union representation?

A. No, you must request this union representation. The employer does not have to tell you of this right.


Q. When does this right apply?

A. If you believe that the investigation might result in discipline, you should request union representation (see specific language in next question).

Source: University Health Professionals (AFT) Local 3837 


Q. What should I do if I am called into an investigatory meeting?

A. If you are called to a meeting with management that you have reason to believe will be an investigatory interview, read the following statement to management before the meeting starts.

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, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Without representation present, I choose not to participate in this discussion.”

Source: IBT Local 251


Q. When the meeting starts, what can the steward do?

A. Although some supervisors sometimes try to assert that the only function of a steward at an investigatory interview is to observe the discussion and be a silent witness this is wrong. The steward has the right to counsel the employee during the interview and to assist the employee to present the facts. Legal cases have established the following rights and obligations of the steward.

  1. When the steward arrives, the supervisor must inform the employee and the steward of the subject matter of the interview: for example, the type of misconduct, which is being investigated. (The supervisor does not, however, have to reveal management’s entire case.)
  2. The steward can take the employee aside for a private pre-interview conference before the questioning begins.
  3. The steward can speak during the interview. (But, the steward has no right to bargain over the purpose of the interview or to obstruct the interview.)
  4. The steward can advise the employee not to answer questions that are abusive, misleading, badgering, confusing or harassing.
  5. When the questioning ends, the steward can provide information to justify the employee’s conduct.

Source: CWA Local 3603 


Q. What are the ground rules?

A. During an investigatory interview, the Supreme Court ruled that 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; deny the request and end the interview immediately; or give the employee a choice of having the interview without representation or ending the interview.

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.

Source: Wikipedia


Q. Can my boss start investigating during the course of a regular meeting?

A. Yes, this is called the “bait and switch.” One tactic management has used to ambush an unaware employee is to start a routine department meeting and then change the topic to the employees possible wrongdoing. At this point, the employee can request a Steward, and ask that the meeting not go on until the Steward is present. In the situation just mentioned, the employee must be strong and remind management of their Weingarten rights.

Source: University Health Professionals (AFT) Local 3837


Q. Is my SCP review an investigatory meeting?

A. No, but in the course of conversation, if questions come up that could lead to discipline, refer to the above the previous “bait and switch” instance. An employee shall, upon request, be entitled to have a union representative present at any investigatory meeting or questioning which the employee reasonably believes could result in disciplinary action.

Source: ARTICLE 19 — JUST CAUSE/DISCIPLINE, URA-AFT Contract 2014–2018

Local 1766