California Educator

September 09

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Do you understand your Weingarten rights? Y our principal calls you into her office, shuts the door and asks you to sit down. She questions you about the way you handled a certain situation and begins to make accusations. You start to feel anxious and worry you could face dis- ci p lin a r y action. Should you invoke your Weingar ten rights? The answer is yes, ab- solutely. Based on the 1975 U.S. Su- preme Court ruling of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., union employees are entitled to have union representation at meet- ings with supervisors that are investigatory or that could lead to disciplinary action. These rights have become supervisors and questioned about failing to pay full price for a box of chicken. The em- ployee, a member of the Re- tail Clerks Union, asked for a Union employees are entitled to have union representation at meetings with supervisors that are investigatory or that could lead to disciplinary action. known as the Weingarten rights. The case is based on an employee who worked at a food outlet operated by J. Wein- garten, Inc. She was sum- moned to an interview with union representative several times, but her request was re- fused by the manager each time. The employee reported what had happened to her shop steward and other union representatives. As a result of her being denied a union rep- resentative, an unfair labor practice charge was filed with the National Labor Relations Board, and the ruling in favor of the employee was appealed numerous times until it went before the high court. To invoke Weingar ten The challenge.    The solution. NEW online tutorial program     instructor    Find out more today! 949.824.9427 rights, a union member should say something like this: “If this discussion could lead to my being disciplined, I request union representa- tion at this meeting, and that the meeting be postponed un- til my union representative arrives.” When the employee makes the request for a union representative to be present, management has three op- tions: It can stop questioning until the representative ar- rives; it can call off the inter- view; or it can tell the em- ployee that it will call off the interview unless the employee voluntari ly gives up their rights to union representation (an option the employee should always refuse). Employers will often assert that the only role of a union representative in an investiga- tory interview is to observe the discussion. The Supreme Court, howev- er, clearly ac- knowledged a r ep r es e n t a- tive’s right to a ss i st a n d counsel workers during the interview. The Supreme Court also ruled that before an investiga- tory interview, management must inform the union repre- sentative of the subject of the interrogation. The represen- tative must also be allowed to speak privately with the em- ployee before the interview and at any time during the in- terview. During the ques- tioning, the representative can interrupt to clar ify a question or to object to con- fusing or intimidating tac- tics. While the interview is in progress the representative cannot tell the employee what to say — but may advise them on how to answer a question. At the end of the interview the union representative can add information to support the employee’s case. “Employees must demand their right to be represented in these investigatory inter- views,” says Priscilla Winslow, assistant chief counsel of the CTA Legal Depar tment. “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you are entitled to.” sherry posnick-Goodwin september 2009 | 25 Reinvent your career. Become a math teacher.

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