What should I do if I am being disciplined at work, or am called into a meeting where I think I might be disciplined?
All unionized workers, including all of us at Local 768, have protections called Weingarten Rights. Weingarten Rights mean you have the right to representation by a union official if you reasonably believe that a meeting will lead to your discipline or firing. If you suspect that discipline may be forthcoming, you can say the following:
If this discussion could in any way lead to being disciplined, terminated, or have any effect on my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my Union Steward, Representative, or Officer be present at this meeting.
Sometimes, even though this is your right, your manager may violate that right by moving ahead with the meeting. Don’t panic! First say,
Without Union representation, I choose not to participate in this discussion and ask for this meeting to be rescheduled.
To avoid escalating the situation, simply sit quietly and listen. Take notes for your own records. You can inform your supervisor that you heard them, but will not be able to respond without a union representative, and again ask for the meeting to be rescheduled. Once the meeting is over, contact your shop steward or council representative for assistance in next steps.
This applies for in-person and Zoom meetings, phone calls, and emails! If your supervisor or another manager emails you with discipline or termination and asks you to respond, you can say
I can acknowledge that I received this email, but I cannot respond further without union representation. If you would like to discuss this matter, I respectfully request a meeting with my Union Steward, Representative, or Officer present.
If you get nervous in these situations, that’s ok! Save a copy of this FAQ, or take a picture and keep it in your phone, and you can bring it out and read directly from the bolded phrases here. And remember, you’re not alone! You have the power of the union behind you.
Haley Shaffer is a Labor standards investigator and shop steward at DCWP.