(Union Representation During Investigatory Interviews) The Legal Rights of Union Stewards by Robert M. Schwartz
The NLRA's protection of concerted activity includes the right to request assistance from union representatives during investigatory interviews. This was declared by the Supreme Court in 1975 in NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc. The rights announced by the Court have become known as Weingarten rights.
Weingarten rights apply only during investigatory interviews. An investigatory interview occurs when: (1) management questions an employee to obtain information; and (2) the employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result. For example, an employee questioned about an accident would be justified in fearing that she might be blamed for it. An employee questioned about poor work would have a reasonable fear of disciplinary action if eh should admit to making errors.
Under the Supreme Court's Weingarten decision, the following rules apply to investigatory interviews:
1. The employee can request union representation before or at any time during the interview.
2. When an employee asks for representation, the employer must choose from among three options:
a. Grant the request and delay questioning until the
union representative arrives;
b. Deny the request and end the interview
c. Give the employee a choice of: (1.) having the
interview without representation or (2.) ending
3. If the employer denies the request for union representation and continues the meeting, the employee can refuse to answer questions.
An employer does not have to inform an employee that he or she has a right to union representation.
An employer's failure to comply with a worker's request for union representation, or a violation of any other Weingarten right, is an unfair labor practice. Unless a grievance is pending on the matter, the NLRB does not defer Weingarten charges.
If you are called to a meeting with management, read the following to management when the meeting begins:
"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. Until my representation arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
CWA LOCAL 4202425 S MURRAY RD STE 108RANTOUL, IL 61866