Rights And Information Regardless Of Contract.
This section covers information that applies to all Union members, regardless of the contract that you have. As always, if you have specific questions about your contract, call your Business Agent.
Has this happened to you? Here is the scenario:
Your employer informs you that they have made some changes to their employee handbook and issues all the employees a “revised copy” of the handbook and informs everyone that they are required to immediately sign and return the signature page at the end of the handbook.
It’s an employee handbook… you have to sign it right? … WRONG! And as always… when in doubt, call your Business Agent!
Let’s be clear on this, your employer can not force you to sign any document. Forcing or attempting to force you to sign a document is not only likely a contract violation but is also a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
Recently we had an employer issue new handbooks and threaten their employees that if they did not sign and return the signature page that the company would withhold their direct deposit. Most employees didn’t even realize that this was a contract violation let alone against the law.
So, why you should be concerned? Aside from the fact that your contract likely contains “individual negotiations” language which prohibits the employer from entering into any other agreements with its employees without the consent of the Union, there is likely hidden within that “revised” employee handbook some scary small print that could be bad news if you sign on the dotted line.
Many of the revised employee handbooks that we have seen have contained Mandatory Binding Arbitration language, something most people have never even heard of. By signing a Mandatory Binding Arbitration agreement you essentially agree to never sue your employer for any reason and you agree to resolve any disputes before an arbitrator who decides the dispute instead of a court. You also may agree to waive other rights, such as your ability to appeal a decision or to join a class action lawsuit.
Also, your Union did not take place in bargaining those “revised” work rules, therefore should your employer decide to implement them they would be unilaterally changing your terms and conditions of employment also a violation of your agreement and the National Labor Relations Act.
Should your employer attempt to require that you sign anything, call your Business Agent immediately so we can address this with management before it becomes an issue.
For all members under any agreement. A common issue that we have been seeing in our shops is management making the following statement:
“Blah Blah Blah…. And it’s ok because I already talked to the Union and they said I could do it.”
You can fill in the “Blah Blah Blah” with whatever issue you want, for example:
–“Semi-Skilled technicians can use the scan tool for PDI’s”
-“You are not eligible for guarantee pay this week because you were 2 minutes late yesterday”
-“I’m not paying you for training that you do at home”
AND THE LIST GOES ON….But you get the idea.
No matter what issue at hand is, it doesn’t change what you as a member should do next, CALL YOUR BUSINESS REPRESENTATIVE!
More times than not, if your manager is telling you that he/she has already contacted us, they have NOT. Usually this ends up being a ploy to keep you from checking with your Business Representative because they know what they are doing is against your contract and they are betting that you will take their word for it. It only takes a minute to check with your BA.
Each and every Union member is entitled to Weingarten rights, regardless of the contract that they work under. In 1975 the United States Supreme Court, in the case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., 420 U.S. 251 (1975), upheld a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that employees have a right to union representation at investigatory interviews. These rights have become known as the Weingarten Rights.
During an investigatory interview, the Supreme Court ruled that the following rules apply:
Rule 1: The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request.
Rule 2: After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from among three options:
– grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and (prior to the interview continuing) the representative has a chance to consult privately with the employee;
– deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
– give the employee a clear choice between having the interview without representation, or ending the interview.
Rule 3: If the employer denies the request for union representation, and continues to ask questions, it commits an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline the employee for such a refusal.
Conclusion: prior to, or during a meeting with management where the employee believes that discipline or termination may result, they have the right to Union representation. Below is an example of the statement you should make to your employer should you wish to exercise your Weingarten Rights.
“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion.”
If you feel that your rights have been denied, and your employer has not allowed you to exercise your Weingarten Rights, contact your Business Agent immediately so that immediate action can be taken.