Your Rights on the Job
The Supreme Court has ruled that an employee is entitled to have a Union Representative present during any interview which may result in his or her discipline. Your Weingarten Rights are a fundamental benefit of your representation under a collective bargaining agreement. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your Union Steward, Business Agent, or Teamsters Local Union 916 Office.
Read this statement to your employer:
IF THIS DISCUSSION COULD IN ANY WAY LEAD TO MY BEING DISCIPLINED OR TERMINATED, OR AFFECT MY PERSONAL WORKING CONDITIONS, I REQUEST THAT MY UNION REPRESENTATIVE, OFFICER, OR STEWARD BE PRESENT AT THE MEETING. WITHOUT REPRESENTATION, I CHOOSE NOT TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS.
IT IS UP TO YOU TO INSIST ON UNION REPRESENTATION. IF YOU FAIL TO DO SO, YOU MAY WAIVE YOUR RIGHTS. DO THE FOLLOWING:
1. Ask your supervisor if you might be disciplined as a result of the interview. If he says "NO", ask for a written statement to that effect. If he gives you such a statement, you must participate in the interview. If not, read him your Weingarten rights, remain for the meeting, take notes, and afterwards immediately contact your union representative.
2. If he/she says you might be disciplined but will not allow you to have a union representative present, read him your Weingarten rights, stay in the room, take notes, and do not respond to any questions. Afterwards, contact your union representative immediately. If he allows your union representative to be present you should participate in the interview.
Origination of Weingarten Rights (NLRB v J. Weingarten Inc., 420 U.S. 251):
Here is the story:
J. Weingarten, Inc. operated a large chain of convenient stores, several of which allowed customers to purchase packaged meals. In June 1972, Ms. Leura Collins, a lunch-counter clerk at Store No. 98 in Houston, Texas, was called into the manager's office and interrogated by her manager and a loss prevention investigator employed by the store. Unknown to Ms. Collins, this investigator had been observing her for the past two days on the basis of a report that she was stealing from the register. Although this particular investigation uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing on Ms. Collins' part, another manager learned (from a coworker) that she "had purchased a [$2.98] box of chicken & but had placed only $1.00 in the cash register."
During the interview, Ms. Collins, a member of Retail Clerks Local Union No. 455, requested several times that her steward or another union representative be present. When questioned about the chicken, Ms. Collins replied that she only took a dollar's worth, but was forced to use a large-size box since the small ones were not available. The investigator went to confirm this; upon his return he "told Collins that her explanation had checked out [and] that he was sorry if he had inconvenienced her, and that the matter was closed."
It was at this point that Ms. Collins finally broke down, exclaiming that the only thing the company ever gave her was a free lunch. Hearing this, the manager and the investigator were surprised, since Store No. 98 had no such policy. Once again Ms. Collins was interrogated, once again she requested representation and once again it was denied. The investigator then asked her to sign a statement that claimed she owed the company $160 for those "free" lunches. She refused. In Store No.2, where she had previously worked [1961-1970], free lunches were policy. It was later learned that other J. Weingarten employees, including the manager, took "free" lunches, since the company had no official policy that forbade it, a fact confirmed to the investigator who then ended the interview.
Upon leaving, Ms. Collins was asked by the manager "not to discuss the matter with anyone because he considered it a private matter between her and the company [and] of no concern to others."
No discipline resulted but when Ms. Collins told her shop steward of this investigation and denial of request, then union decided to file an unfair labor practice with the NLRB. The United States Supreme Court ruled that the employers denial of a union member s request that a union representative be present at an investigative interview which the employee reasonably believed might result in disciplinary action was an unfair labor practice because it interfered with, restrained and coerced the employees right to engage in concerted activities for mutual aid or protection.
YOUR WEINGARTEN RIGHTS:
- REQUEST WEINGARTERN: Employee MUST request the Weingarten right, the Employer is not obligated (unless terms of collective bargaining agreement states otherwise) to inform the employee of his/her right to Union Representation.
- RIGHT TO REPRESENTATION: Every Union Employee has the right to be represented or accompanied by union representative in an interview that may result in disciplinary action.
- REASONABLE POSTPONEMENT: Employee has the right to request a reasonable postponement of the interview until a union representative is available but this cannot result in an undue delay of the interview.
Subsequent Rights Derived from Weingarten:
- REFUSAL TO PARTICIPATE: An employee may refuse to participate in an investigatory interview where a request for Union representation has been made and denied, however, don't leave the meeting without permission especially if you are on the clock counseling sessions: the right to union representation may also be invoked at counseling sessions held by an employer to discuss production quotas where such sessions were "A preliminary step to the imposition of discipline." The Board has also said that the Weingarten Rule does not apply to the "run of the mill" shop floor conversations where instructions are given or work techniques are corrected and there is no reasonable basis for an employee to fear an "adverse impact" from the interview.
- PRIOR CONSULTATION: The right to Union representation at a disciplinary interview includes a right of prior consultation between the employee and the Union representative.
- INTERFERENCE WITH EMPLOYEE RIGHTS: An employer has unlawfully interfered with an employee's right to union representation at an interview by threatening the individual that the exercise of this right would result in more severe discipline