When am I entitled to a union representative?
Based on the 1975 Supreme Court ruling NLRB v. Weingarten and the California Educational Employees Rights Act, all BFT members are entitled to union representation in any meeting with a supervisor that could result in disciplinary action. These rights have become known as Weingarten Rights, and they are codified in our contract in Article 15.7.10 (see below).
How do I know if a meeting my result in disciplinary action?
The simplest way to know is to ask. If you’re unsure of the purpose of the meeting, ask your supervisor via email, e.g. “Is there a potential that this meeting could result in any form of disciplinary action towards me? Please let me know if this is the case, as I’ll bring a union representative with me.” In general, if your administrator asks you for an individual meeting, you should assume the meeting is disciplinary and you should bring a union representative with you.
Who can be my union representative?
Any BFT member can serve as you union representative during a meeting; however, BFT Site Reps and other BFT leaders have had some training in this area.
What is the role of my union representative in a meeting like this? What isn’t their role in a meeting like this?
The representative has a few roles in a potentially disciplinary meeting with your supervisor:
- S/he should help you gain clarity on the purpose of the meeting—the Supreme Court has ruled that management must inform a union representative of the subject of an interrogation or investigation as soon as they enter the room.
- They should work to ensure clarity during the meeting—the union representative does have the right to ask clarifying questions during an interview. This means the representative can ask a supervisor to rephrase questions that are unclear.
- S/he should take notes during the meeting.
At the end of the interview, union representatives can add information to support the employee being interviewed.
- Union representatives must be allowed to confer privately with employees before an interview and at any time during an interview.
- Union representatives cannot tell an employee what to say during an interview, but they may advise employees on how and whether to answer. They also cannot insist that the meeting be ended.
What do I do if I’m already in a meeting and it seems like it’s veering towards potential disciplinary action?
If, during a meeting with a supervisor, you feel as though you’re being investigated for something or could be disciplined for something, you should invoke your Weingarten Rights—i.e. tell your supervisor politely but firmly something like, “If my response to this question could lead to me being disciplined in any way, I request union representation and that this meeting be postponed until my union representative arrives.” Once you say this, the supervisor has four options:
- Stop questioning you until union representation arrives,
- Stop and reschedule the meeting for a time when you can bring a union representative,
- Call off the meeting altogether, or
- Ask you to give up your right to union representation (a request you should always refuse).
What is the role of a union representative after a potentially disciplinary meeting?
After the meeting, union representatives should make sure to provide you with a copy of any notes they took during the meeting. The representative should encourage you to contact your BFT Site Rep or to contact the BFT office if any disciplinary action was taken during the meeting (e.g. a Letter of Reprimand) or if you want more information on next steps.
Relevant BFT/BUSD Contract Language
15.7.10 Teachers shall have the right to be accompanied and represented by a Union representative during a meeting involving potential disciplinary action against the teacher per the Weingarten ruling.