Department of Technology Denies Local 21 Member’s Union Rights

 

Local 21 Files an Unfair Labor Charge

Local 21 has filed an unfair labor charge with PERB (Public Employee Relations Board) over an incident at the Department of Technology (DT).

When a Local 21 member was called into a meeting with Agata Drygas-Andryszewski, a Senior Employee and Labor Relations Analyst for the General Services Agency, he did the right thing. He called his union representative and made sure he had backup.

If a union member has a reasonable suspicion that discipline or adverse consequences may result from what is said at an investigatory meeting, or if the meeting is about matters related the employee’s terms and conditions of employment, the member has the right to request a union representative. These are what are known as Weingarten Rights, and they are a very important protection for union members.

Instead of proceeding with the meeting per the requirements of the law, Ms. Drygas-Andryszewski physically barred the Local 21 representative from entering the room by standing in the doorway. When the Local 21 member told Ms. Drygas-Andryszewski that he was invoking his Weingarten Rights and wanted union representation, Ms. Drygas-Andryszewski stated that he did not have the right to union representation in this meeting. She stated that it was “simply a conversation” on behalf of the Department of Technology CIO Linda Gerull, and would not lead to adverse work action. Despite his misgivings that this was more than a simple “conversation”, the decided to continue the meeting rather than be insubordinate.

Several weeks after the meeting, the Local 21 member was presented with a disciplinary Letter of Instruction based off the outcome of the “investigation.” As such, DT knowingly obfuscated the nature of the “conversation” between the Local 21 member and Ms. Drygas-Andryszewski, and illegally denied him his rights.  The member was never given a formal opportunity to respond to the allegations against him.

In a union town, this blatant misleading of a union member and his representative is unacceptable. And this matter follows an incident earlier this year where the same Department walked several veteran Local 21 members off the job, for no reason.

Regardless of whether employees are guilty or innocent of the charges made, EVERY union member has the right to union representation when being questioned by HR or management about potential misconduct. Union representation ensures that you are treated fairly and that the proper processes are followed. While Local 21 fights this issue, we call on The Department of Technology to make sure that all its representatives are conversant with the laws governing employer/employee relations, and that it unites the goal of making positive changes to the workplace with a genuine interest in supporting its union employees.