Weingarten Rights: Union Representation at Investigative Interviews
Union members can have a union rep present at interviews that may lead to discipline. Unions used to print a card for every member to carry that said something like this:
The Weingarten Rights to have union representative for investigatory interviews are only available to union members. They were established by a 1975 Supreme Court case called National Labor Relations Board v. Weingarten, which came about after a woman named Laura Collins, a member of the Retail Clerks Union, was accused of stealing chicken from the restaurant she worked at.
When Weingarten Applies
If a union member reasonably believes that an investigatory interview could lead to discipline, he or she is entitled to ask for union representation. The employer is not obligated to inform employees of their Weingarten rights or to ask whether an employee would like a union rep at a meeting or interview.
Although some employers believe they are required only to allow a union rep to observe the interview without participating, Weingarten clearly gives employees the right to assistance from the rep. However, a rep may not consistently interrupt the proceedings or instruct an employee not to answer questions.
Your Right to a Safe and Healthy Workplace
You have a right to work in a workplace that does not make you hurt or sick. OSHA(the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires employers to provide a workplace that is free of recognized hazards.
You have the right under U.S. health and safety laws to:
- A workplace that is safe and free of recognized hazards
- Talk to your supervisor about unsafe or unhealthy working conditions
- File a complaint with OSHA about unsafe or unhealthy conditions
- Refuse to do a job task that you reasonably think might put you in immediate danger
- Know about the hazards in your workplace
- Not to be discriminated against (fired, given a worse job, etc.) for reporting safety hazards (“Whistleblower Protection”)
- Access to records of medical tests and tests that monitor your work environment for hazardous materials
- Access to information about injuries and illnesses that happen in your workplace
If you feel you are working in unsafe conditions, contact your steward and your Teamster business representative.