One of the most vital functions of a Union steward is to prevent management from intimidating employees. Nowhere is this more important than in closed-door meetings when supervisors or guards, often trained in interrogation techniques, attempt to coerce employees into confessing to wrongdoing.
In 1975, in NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc, the U.S. Supreme Court announced the rights of employees in the presence of union representatives during investigatory interviews. Since that case involved a clerk being investigated by the Weingarten Company, these rights have become known as Weingarten rights.
If you are called into a meeting with any management representative and have reason to believe that disciplinary action may result, read them your Weingarten rights...
My Weingarten 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 or steward be present at this meeting. If this discussion could lead to my being disciplined and you deny my request for representation, I choose not to answer any questions."
In 1975, the Supreme Court ruled in the Weingarten decision, that an employee is entitled to have a union representative present during any interview which may result in his or her discipline. It is up to you to insist on union representation. If you fail to do so, you may waive your rights.
Do the following:
- Ask your supervisor if you might be disciplined as a result of the interview.
- If he says, "NO," ask for a written statement to that effect.
- If he gives you such a statement, you must participate in the interview.
- If not, read him your Weingarten rights, remain for the meeting, take notes, and afterwards immediately contact your union representative.
- If he says you might be disciplined but will not allow you to have a union representative present, read him your Weingarten rights, stay in the room, take notes, and do not respond to any questions. Afterwards, contact your union representative immediately.
- If he allows your union representative to be present, you should participate in the interview.