Your Union – You have Weingarten Rights for Representation in an “Investigatory Interview”
by Wendy Rolfe, Vice-President, Part-Time Faculty
One of the benefits of being a member of our (or any) union, is that you have legal rights to union representation at any hearing with a supervisor that may result in disciplinary action being taken against you. These are called “Weingarten Rights”, resulting from a 1975 Supreme Court decision involving the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and regarding an issue for a union employee at Weingarten, Inc., a food service company. The result of that decision is that any union member may request that a union representative be present at an “investigatory hearing” with her/his supervisor or employer. The employer is not required to inform you of your rights, so it is important that you assert them.
As an example, if you are called into a meeting that may involve any Title IX related actions concerning your employment at Berklee, it is important that you have a union rep with you. You should consult the union before making any statements or sharing any information. We suggest that if you are contacted by the administration or a supervisor about attending this type of meeting, that you inform them that you will be bringing a union representative. Then, contact us ASAP! Our Grievance Officer, Prince Charles Alexander, and other BAFT officers have extensive experience in these areas.
Some of the most useful advice I’ve seen includes:
* Request representation from our Berklee Faculty Union before you share any information or make any statements in what may suddenly turn into a disciplinary meeting with a supervisor or administrator. State that you are entitled to representation, and that you are contacting our union.
* If you are meeting with a supervisor or administration member, and you think that it may result in disciplinary action being taken against you, state that you will be taking notes on what they say, but that you will not commenting until you have a union rep present.
* Even if this is a circumstance in which our employer may not be required to allow a union rep to represent you at the meeting, i.e., if it is a non-disciplinary meeting, you can still request that a rep be present.
* The first UMass Amherst MTA site below includes this advice: “Cautionary Note: An employee may not be protected if s/he refuses to participate in a meeting that is subsequently found to lack Weingarten status. Therefore, we recommend that employees consult with their union representatives any time they are called to a meeting with the employer, for advice about their rights.”
There are excellent overviews on the UMass Amherst Massachusetts Teachers Association site: