You have a right to have Union a representative at any interview or meeting that you believe could lead to disciplinary action.
In the 1975 case, NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an employee has a right, under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, to have a union representative present whenever he or she is interviewed by a supervisor or Postal Inspector and has reasonable cause to believe that discipline will result from that interview. This right is independent of any rights under the National Agreement.
It must be remembered, however, that the Weingarten right is the employee’s right and not the union’s. Thus, to be activated, the employee must request the presence of a union representative; the union cannot exercise Weingarten rights on the employee’s behalf. Additionally, management is not required to inform an employee of his/her Weingarten right to representation. Once the request for representation is made, the employer is required to either:
1. grant the request;
2. deny the request and offer the employee the opportunity to continue the interview without union representation; or
3. deny the request and hold no interview at all.
Employees also have the right under Weingarten to a pre-interview consultation with a steward. Federal courts have extended this right to pre-meeting consultations between employee and union representative prior to Inspection Service interrogations. (U.S. Postal Service v. NLRB, D.C. Cir. 1992.)
During a Weingarten interview, the employee has the right to the steward’s assistance; the steward is not required to be a silent witness. Although ELM Section 665.3 requires all employees to cooperate with postal investigations, the employee retains the right under Weingarten to have a steward present before answering questions in this situation. The employee may respond that they will answer questions once a steward is provided.
The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) guarantees certain rights to union members and imposes certain responsibilities on union officers to ensure union democracy, financial integrity, and transparency.
The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) is the Federal agency with primary authority to enforce many LMRDA provisions.
Bill of Rights - Union members have:
Copies of Collective Bargaining Agreements -
Union members and nonunion employees have the right to receive or inspect copies of collective bargaining agreements.
Reports - Unions are required to file an initial information report (Form LM-1), copies of constitutions and bylaws, and an annual financial report (Form LM-2/3/4) with OLMS. Unions must make the reports available to members and permit members to examine supporting records for just cause. The reports are public information and copies are available from OLMS.
Officer Elections - Union members have the right to:
Officer Removal - Local union members have the right to an adequate procedure for the removal of an elected officer guilty of serious misconduct.
Trusteeships - Unions may only be placed in trusteeship by a parent body for the reasons specified in the LMRDA.
Protection for Exercising LMRDA Rights - A union or any of its officials may not fine, expel, or otherwise discipline a member for exercising any LMRDA right.
Prohibition Against Violence - No one may use or threaten to use force or violence to interfere with a union member in the exercise of LMRDA rights.