• Today in Labor History
    June 23, 1947: Congress overrides President Harry Truman's veto of the anti-worker Taft-Hartley Act. The law weakened unions and let states exempt themselves from union requirements. Twenty states immediately enacted open shop laws and more followed.

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  • Know Your Rights
    Sep 19, 2011

    Understand the rights you have if you're called into the office by your employer

    The rights of unionized employees to have present a union representative during investigatory interviews was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1975 case (NLRB v. Weingarten, Inc. 420 U.S. 251, 88 LRRM  2689). These rights have come to be known as the Weingarten rights.

    Employees have Weingarten rights only during investigatory interviews. An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline, or asks an employee to defend his/her conduct.

    If an employee has reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from what he or she says, the employee has the right to request union representation.

    Management is not required to inform the employee of his/her Weingarten rights; it is the employee's responsibility to know, and make the request.


    Sample request for representation:

    "If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I request that my union representative be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."

    When the employee makes the request for a union representative to be present, management has three options:

    1. It can stop questioning until the representative arrives.
    2. It can call off the interview, or –
    3. It can tell the employee that it will call off the interview unless the employee voluntarily gives up his/her rights to a union representative – and option the employee should always refuse.

    Employers will often assert that the only role of the union representative in an investigatory interview is to observe the discussion. The Supreme Court, however, clearly acknowledges a representative's right to assist and counsel workers during the interview.

    The Supreme Court has also ruled that during an investigatory interview, management must inform the union representative of the subject of the interrogation. The representative must also be allowed to speak privately with the employee before the interview. During the questioning, the representative can interrupt to clarify a question or to object to confusing or intimidating tactics.

    While the interview is in progress, the representative cannot tell the employee what to say, but he may advise him on how to answer a question. At the end of the interview, the union representative can add information to support the employee's case.


    Sep 19, 2011

    Your Right to Fair Treatment

    Your Teamsters collective bargaining agreement provides you with the right to fair treatment at work. Without your union contract, you would be employed “at will” which means that the employer could issue discipline or terminate your employment for any non-discriminatory reason, or for no reason.

    The “just cause” provision in your contract protects you against unreasonable discipline. The basic elements of just cause have been reduced to seven tests. A "no" answer to one or more of the questions below means that just cause either was not satisfied or at least was seriously weakened.

    1. Notice: "Did the Employer give to the employee forewarning or foreknowledge of the possible consequences of the employee's disciplinary conduct?"

    2. Reasonable rule or order: "Was the Employer's rule or managerial order reasonably related to (a) the orderly, efficient, and safe operation of the Employer's business, and (b) the performance that the Employer might properly expect of the Employee?"

    3. Investigation: "Did the Employer, before administering the discipline to an employee, make an effort to discover whether the employee did in fact violate or disobey a rule or order of management?"

    4. Fair investigation: "Was the Employer's investigation conducted fairly and objectively?"

    5. Proof: "At the investigation, did the 'judge' obtain substantial evidence or proof that the employee was guilty as charged?"

    6. Equal treatment: "Has the Employer applied its rules, orders and penalties even-handedly and without discrimination to all employees?"

    7. Penalty: "Was the degree of discipline administered by the Employer in a particular case reasonably related to (a) the seriousness of the employee's proven offense, and (b) the record of the employee in his service with the Employer?"




    Page Last Updated: Mar 03, 2015 (10:33:00)
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