Know Your Rights


Weingarten Rights

 

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Labor Law Tip of the Month

 

October: Legal rights to information

By law, our Union has a broad right to receive relevant information from management at any stage of the grievance process, including investigations to determine whether a grievance exists.  Management must provide us with this information upon request – this is considered part of management’s “duty to bargain in good faith.”

Examples:

Start with a brief justification for why we need the information (legally required).

Checking to see if the matter is a grievance?

‘In order for the Union to fulfill its obligation to monitor the collective bargaining agreement and investigate employee complaints, we request…’

Need info to prepare for the grievance meeting?

                                ‘The Union requests the following information relevant to the XXX grievance…’

Ask for what you need:

  1. The personnel file of X?
  2. Copies of all emails between X and Y On Oct 1-2, 2015…or copies of complaint received by the member of the public against x…or please describe the alleged misconduct in detail…or please identify any persons interviewed as part of your investigation… or please provide the reasons for the decision to discipline…or please explain in detail what Supervisor X meant in the step one denial when it referred to” the employee’s inconsistent statements” or
  3. Copy of posting of rule X… or copies of time sheets of department X for Oct 1 2015… or copies of pay records of x for the period of July 1 through September 1 2015…etc.

Be Aware:

  • Always put it in writing; email is fine.  Set a timeline such as ‘if the information will not be provided within one work week, when will it be provided?’
  •  Make the request timely. Don’t ask two months after filing the step 1. Ask at the start. 
  • Do not go on a fishing expedition. Check with your Labor Rep before asking for: ‘the names of all employees in the department who have violated rule X and were not disciplined over the previous five years’ or ’the entire file of the management investigation into the matter.’   It will just slow things down in the early stages of a grievance-- and generate an adversarial response.  If we are headed to arbitration later on, it might make sense for a broad request. 

Management can deny requests that are too large (“burdensome”), not relevant, or where the information has been posted, or for a grievance that is not arbitrable. They may provide the information in a 

 

September: Non-retaliation clause

Labor law and possibly your contract both prohibit management from disciplining or intimidating you because of your activity as a steward. For example, management cannot deny you promotions or other benefits, assign you extra work or undesirable jobs, or act in other ways that attempt to discourage you from doing your job as a steward.

 

August: What is a grievance?

A grievance is a union right and contractual process in which an employee or group of employees can challenge a decision that an employer has made, and generally, have the dispute adjudicated by an independent third party.

 
June: Weingarten Rights

Weingarten rights guarantee an employee the option of Union representation during an investigatory interview. Under recent changes to the California labor law, Weingarten rights have been expanded to include interactive process meetings, not just investigatory ones. Interactive process meetings refer to any request for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

It is important to note that the employee must claim Weingarten rights and the supervisor has no obligation to inform an employee that s/he is entitled to Union representation. This is why it is important to be familiar with your rights before going in to any disciplinary proceeding. See more information.

 

May: Skelly Officers

During a Skelly Hearing, the officer conducting the meeting must be a “reasonably impartial officer.” What this means is that the employer’s representative who presides over the hearing must be impartial and a noninvolved reviewer who possesses the authority to recommend a final disposition of the matter.
 
Essentially, the takeaway for Member Activists and Stewards is that the Skelly Officer must not have partaken in the initial investigation or proposed discipline, and the Skelly Officer must have the authority or ability to render a decision to accept, decline or modify the originally proposed discipline.