Download our UFF Members Rights Brochure (pdf).
So-called “Weingarten rights” give workers the right to representation in investigatory meetings. UFF members have a right to UFF representation at meetings called by administrators where there is reason to believe disciplinary action may be taken against them. These rights, established by the Supreme Court in 1975 in the case of the National Labor Relations Board v. J. Weingarten, Inc., must be claimed by the member. You must request your right to a UFF representative.
An investigatory interview is one in which an administrator questions an employee to obtain information that could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his/her conduct. If you are in a meeting and the topic switches to something that could lead to discipline, you have the right to request UFF representation. Statewide, we are seeing an increase in student complaints and Human Resource investigations. This can be a stressful and sometimes confusing process. One of the important reasons UFF exists is to make sure members have due process rights in situations like this.
To exercise your Weingarten rights, keep the following statement in front of you and politely but clearly state:
If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or could affect my personal working conditions, I request that a union representative be present at this meeting.”
Make the above statement, repeat it, and then do not engage in any further discussion except to request the meeting be rescheduled for when you can have a UFF representative present.One of the best ways to serve the union is to become a Grievance Committee member and help defend due process rights. Consider becoming a UFF repre-sentative and going to investigatory meetings with members. It is important and rewarding work. UFF offers regular training on grievances. Even if you are not sure you’d like to serve, it’s worth learning about the process and your contract.
What is not covered under Weingarten:
- You must cooperate with the investigation; not answering questions (with some exceptions) could be considered insubordination and could get you fired.
- Public employees do not have the right to representation when the administration is speaking with you as a witness to an investigation of someone else.
- Not every meeting with a supervisor is an investigation, and not every discussion with a supervisor or administrator could reasonably be thought to lead to discipline. UFF will help you decide if you have the right to representation; always contact your chapter for clarifications.