Weingarten Rights guarantee employees the right to union representation during an investigatory interview or at any time they suspect questioning might be related to disciplinary action. All union represented employees have the right to union representation whenever they believe a line of questioning could result in discipline, not just when the employer says that it could. This is often invoked on normal meetings with management or when answering questions regarding work performance.
What you need to know:
- If you are represented by a union, you have these rights!
- You must to invoke them, which means you have to make them clear. Your employer is not obligated to remind you of them.
- If you request your Weingarten Rights and are subsequently denied representation during an investigatory interview or disciplinary action, the employer can be charged with an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP).
If you are choosing not to answer questions asked by your employer (or manager) here is what to say to avoid being accused of insubordination:
"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or discharged, I request that my Union representative be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions."
It is better to assert Weingarten Rights even when you may not need them than it is to go without them. Your employer is prohibited from discriminating against you for using your Weingarten Rights, which could also lead to a ULP. The Weingarten privilege is a central piece of stewarding, it is what ensures that stewards are on a potential disciplinary case before it happens, and it can prevent you from speaking out of turn or exposing yourself unecessarily. It is also critical for disciplinary grievances and "Just Cause," which is ensuring that a member is not terminated without progressive discipline.