The Right to Representation
If you are ever asked questions that could result in discipline by a member of management, you have specific representational rights.
You have the right to have a union representative present in a meeting that could lead to discipline. If you want a union representative present during questioning, you must ask for her or him. Management is under no obligation to remind you of this right. If you do not know why your manager wants to meet with you, ask her/him if discipline could result from your answering their questions. You can use the prepared statement below:
“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.”
If your manager refuses to allow you to summon a union representative, repeat your request in the presence of a witness. Do not refuse to attend the meeting, but do not answer any questions either. Take notes. Once the meeting is over, call your union representative at once. You have the right to speak privately with your representative before the meeting and during the meeting. Your representative has the right to fully participate in the meeting and is on an equal footing with any managers present. She or he is not playing the role of a witness only.
These rights are called “Weingarten Rights” based on a 1975 Supreme Court decision (NLRB vs. J. Weingarten). As with all rights, if we do not use them, we lose them.