I am writing to you today make you aware of a phenomenon that keeps occurring, in hopes of eradicating it. What I’m talking about is members not being proactive in protecting their jobs: not availing themselves of their right to representation; members providing damaging evidence, and then afterwards asking for union representation; and members who make questionable workplace decisions.
Right to Representation
I know, I know! You’re tired of hearing about Weingarten rights, but since this is the most important right you have as a Union member, I CANNOT emphasize it enough. When you’re called into a meeting with an administrator, it’s on you to request Union representation. The College is under no duty to inform you of your rights; they might not even know that you get representation. I don’t care if you think the administrator is your friend (they aren’t!) or that the matter isn’t serious (it is!). I know that administrators sometimes say that the matter isn’t disciplinary, so you don’t need/get the Union, but it’s not their decision – the right of representation kicks in when you want it, so make sure to request it!
In that same vein, please note that it doesn’t help to request Union assistance AFTER you’ve talked to administration about an incident. Another facet of Weingarten is the right to respond to an inquiry after speaking with the Union (the right to remain silent). If you’re with an administrator and they are asking questions, requesting an explanation, or telling you to write a statement of events – don’t do anything until you’ve talked to the Union first! Please be aware that CCCTU members are being seriously disciplined and even terminated after meetings where they spoke or wrote first and then asked for Union representation. Don’t be one of these people! The Union can’t “put the genie back into the bottle” – once you’ve damaged your case by talking, we rarely can fix it.
Questionable Workplace Decisions
This is a sensitive topic because everyone believes that they make good judgment calls about what they should and shouldn’t do in the workplace. Unfortunately that’s really not true. In my few short years as your field representative, we have had members steal from students, arrive at work intoxicated, pressure co-workers and students to join their churches, make offensive statements about administrators or students guised as humor, sell drugs, and download and/or upload pornography while on College computers! Now while some of these people knew what they were doing was wrong, a few did not, which makes me realize that a “refresher” course on workplace behavior is due.
PLEASE NOTE: you can never view pornography on College property; you can never ask a student out on a date or say yes if they ask you out on a date (and I would prefer it if you did not Facebook “friend” them or text them either – this is routinely misinterpreted as sexual in nature); you can never sell anything on campus during work hours: tickets to the gospel concert, Noni juice, Mary Kay, or Mary Jane because it is a breach of your fiduciary duty to the college; and be cognizant that bad behavior off-campus can be used against you on-campus.
In closing, I believe that Local 1600 members can, and will, be more proactive in the workplace. Let’s all do our best to stay out of trouble, and if somehow you end up in trouble, contact the Union for assistance immediately.