I am writing to you today to discuss an issue of critical importance – your Weingarten Rights. Weingarten is a name taken from a Supreme Court decision that guarantees the right of Union members to have representation at investigatory interviews. There are three things that you need to know about Weingarten:
- You must make a clear request for Union representation before or during the interview and you cannot be punished for making a request for representation.
- After you make the request, the administrator questioning you must choose from among the following three options: grant your request and delay questioning until the representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with you; deny your request and end the interview immediately; or give you a choice of having the interview without representation or ending the interview.
- If the administrator denies your request for Union representation, and continues to ask questions, he/she commits an unfair labor practice and you have a right to refuse to answer. The employer can’t discipline you for such a refusal.
The most important thing you need to know about Weingarten rights is that YOU HAVE TO ASK FOR THEM! Your supervisor doesn’t have to tell you about your rights, and may not even know of them him/herself!
There are many reasons to use your Weingarten rights. Your Union representative can offer advice on how to answer questions; object to intimidating, abusive, or misleading tactics; prevent you from making unhelpful confessions or insubordinate outbursts; and insure that the interviewer gives an honest account of what occurred. Please be aware that CCCTU members are being seriously disciplined and even terminated after meetings where they did not ask for Union representation – don’t be one of these people!
When called into an interview where the outcome could be discipline you have to say this to assert your rights:
“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 be present at this meeting. Without representation present, then I choose not to participate in this discussion.”