Know and use your union rights to protect yourself from unfair discipline.
If the boss calls you into the office or starts asking questions that could lead to your discipline, you have the right to union representation.
Make sure you and your co-workers are prepared to enforce your right to representation, known as your Weingarten Rights.
‘Could This Lead to Discipline?’
Ask the supervisor if the meeting could lead to a disciplinary action. If so, ask to have your steward before proceeding. At that point, management can either grant your request and get a steward or end the interview. If they continue to ask questions, do not leave the meeting but tell the boss you won’t answer any questions without union representation.
Ask for the Steward of Your Choice
You have the right to choose your steward, where possible and reasonable. Keep in mind that your right to a representative of your choice may vary depending on your specific contract language and past practice in your workplace.
Clarify the Subject of the Meeting
Your shop steward has the right to ask management what the subject of the meeting or interview is. It’s important to use this right to avoid a fishing expedition. If management refuses to answer, document their refusal.
Meet With Your Steward
After finding out what the meeting is about, you have the right to talk privately with a steward before proceeding with the meeting with management. Use this “union caucus” to get on the same page with your steward. Be honest with your steward. They can’t defend you if they don’t have the facts or the full story.
Keep a record of what happens during the meeting, even if your steward is. It is always good to keep your own records of the events in case one of you misses something.
However you might be feeling going into the meeting, it's important to stay calm. If you don’t remember a detail, say that. Don’t guess or make something up. You can ask for a document that might help you to remember. Don’t offer extra details and information. Answer questions simply and directly, no matter how many times they ask. Stick to your story, and don’t lose your temper.
If You are Disciplined
Make sure you understand the terms of the discipline, and if you received a warning letter, take it seriously in case of further discipline. If you are suspended or discharged, file a grievance on it.
If you and your steward believe that the disciplinary action violates just cause, follow the grievance procedure.
What if Management Denies My Right to Representation?
If you are refused union representation in a disciplinary meeting, you may have legal recourse under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and your union may be able to file an unfair labor practices charge.
Know Your Rights & Be Honest
“I hand out Weingarten Cards to educate members on their rights, and I make sure to always be honest. I don’t make false promises, but I let them know that I’ll fight for them.
“I always meet with the member first so we’re on the same page. I do most of the talking in the office. But I want members to understand where they stand and how to defend themselves.
“Recently a sorter on my shift was called into the office about their misloads.
“Before management started with their questions, I asked the member about how he was trained. I showed him the contract language, and we agreed he hadn’t been properly trained.
“I advised him to stand his ground and not allow management to box him into saying he’d done something wrong.”
Jennifer Gott, Chicago Local 710, UPS
Ask for Your Shop Steward
“Make sure to ask for union representation when you’re being questioned and facing possible discipline. Don’t let management coerce or intimidate you into meeting without your steward.
“As union members, we have rights. It’s up to us to enforce them.”