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Weingarten Rights

Now that you know some of the rules that apply in discipline cases, you' re ready for a special kind of meeting called a " Weingarten representation."

Weingarten was a U.S. Supreme Court case that gave workers the right to have a steward present in some circumstances "when a supervisor asks for information that could be used as a basis for discipline."

It's important to remind your members about their Weingarten rights now and then: Workers should always request a steward if a meeting could lead to discipline. One way to do this is with "Weingarten cards" [business card size] with the legal formula on one side ...

"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 be present."

... and all the shop stewards and their phone numbers on the other.

There may be times when a manager ignores an employee's Weingarten rights. If that happens, counsel the worker to stay in the room to hear the manager out, take detailed notes stating that he or she requested a steward and the request was denied, and upon leaving the meeting to contact a steward immediately to file a charge with the NLRB.

Be sure you remember all the things you're responsible for in a Weingarten meeting:

If you have advance notice, ask management what it's about. Then you can prepare yourself (and the worker) for the questions they'll ask.

What to tell your worker before the meeting:

  • Be cool. Be real cool.
  • Be careful. Anything you say can be used against you.
  • Keep answers short. Don't volunteer anything. You can't refuse to answer, but you don't have to go out of your way to be helpful.

Your presence should inhibit management from browbeating the worker. If it doesn' t, you can protest such behavior and include it in your notes.

(You are taking careful notes on the whole meeting. They'll be needed if the whole thing "goes to steps." )

You can (during the meeting) give the worker advice on how to answer. You can also ask management to state the questions clearly, and request brief recesses to confer with the worker.

You're there to make sure the worker is treated fairly and to show that the union stands behind the workers. Do that and you've done well.