Know Your Rights
As a union member, you are protected by what is known as a “collective bargaining agreement,” which is a contract that your employer is required by law to follow. Every contract must be passed with a majority “yes” vote by the union membership for which it covers. A contract spells out in writing your benefits and working conditions, all of which are negotiated for. Knowing your rights on the job is a very important aspect of belonging to a union. By knowing your rights, you can be confident that you are getting the most out of your working contract. If you do not have a copy of your contract, please contact your union representative or shop steward, whose names can be found on the union bulletin board at your workplace. Or Click Here to request a copy.
Representation and Shop Stewards
Each facility that we have under contract has a Union Representative assigned to it. Their main function is to service the membership and enforce the contracts. There are seven representatives, each with their own jurisdiction (the names and service locations of each of the reps can be found here). The Union Reps routinely visit each of their assigned facilities, so from time to time you may see them in yours. A shop steward, meanwhile, is one of your co-workers who acts as an agent of the union in the workplace. The leadership of the local appoints shop stewards and negotiates how many stewards are in each job location. The steward’s job is to make sure your company lives up to your contract. When there is a problem with management and you need union help, your first stop should be a visit with your shop steward. Make sure to get to know your shop stewards and your union representative. They are an important aspect of your membership with the local.
If you’re a shop steward, your handbook can be found below:
When issues arise at work, your union is your first line of defense. A grievance can come in many forms. It could be a violation of the contract, a missed pay raise, harassment, unfair treatment, or suspension pending termination. A grievance can be filed for any one of these reasons. If this ever happens to you, know that your union representative is here for you, and be sure to call them immediately. After getting in touch with your union representative, you will be informed whether your issue constitutes a legitimate grievance or just a gripe. If you are faced with a legitimate grievance, you and your representative will meet with the company in an effort to resolve the problem. One of the most common grievances that Union Representatives deal with is suspensions. At any time you could be called into a manager’s office to be reprimanded or suspended. Fortunately, as a union member, you are entitled to what are known as Weingarten Rights. These are exclusive to union members, and should be your first thought should you be brought into a manager’s office to be disciplined. To put it simply, when a union member chooses to invoke their Wengarten Rights, they are choosing for representation and a witness to be present during the meeting.
- Under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision, when an investigatory interview occurs, the following rules apply:
- RULE 1:
The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request. The employer is under no obligation to notify the employee of their Weingarten Rights.
- RULE 2:
After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from among three options. The Employer must either:
1) Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative can schedule an appointment and has a chance to consult privately with the employee;
2) End the interview immediately; or
3) Give the employee the choice of either having the interview without representation or ending the interview until they have representation. Your representation can be any one of your co-workers, but we believe that your shop steward and your union representative are your two best choices.
- RULE 3:
If the employer denies the request for union representation, and continues to ask questions, they have committed an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline the employee for such a refusal.
Remember, Weingarten Rights are only granted to union members. Click on the image below for the language of your Weingarten Rights.
For more information about your rights on the job, or if you have any questions, please contact your steward or union representative.