Union Rights

  • Title 5 United States Code ( 5 USC Chapter 71 ) e.g. Sections 7114, ...
  • Negotiated Contract Agency and Unit
  • Broad mix of public law, statute and regulation
    • EEO
    • HR
    • DOL
Protection of rights, enforcement starts with employee, representative and local management.
Adjudicators include: local, DoD Labor, US Labor DOL, US HHS

In 1975, the Supreme Court ruled in the Weingarten decision, that an employee is entitled to have a union representative present during any interview which may result in his or her discipline. It is up to YOU to insist on union representation. If you fail to do so, you may waive your rights.

Do the following:

·         Ask your supervisor if you might be disciplined as a result of the interview.

·         If he says, "NO," ask for a written statement to that effect.

·         If he gives you such a statement, you must participate in the interview.

·         If not, read him your Weingarten rights, remain for the meeting, take notes, and afterwards immediately contact your union representative.

·         If he says you might be disciplined but will not allow you to have a union representative present, read him your Weingarten rights, stay in the room, take notes, and do not respond to any questions. Afterwards, contact your union representative immediately.

·         If he allows your union representative to be present, you should participate in the interview.

Weingarten Rights

Here is what to ask your supervisor before the meeting starts. 

"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working condition, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions."



Under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision, the following rules apply to investigatory interviews:

The employee can request union representation before or at any time during the interview.

When an employee asks for representation, the employer must choose from among three options:

1. Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives;

2. Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or

3. Give the employee a choice of: (a) having the interview without representation or (b) ending the interview.

If the employer denies the request for union representation and continues the meeting, the employee can refuse to answer questions.




Employers sometimes assert that the only function of a steward at an investigatory interview is to observe the discussion; in other words, to be a silent witness. This is incorrect. The steward must be allowed to advise and assist the employee in presenting the facts. When the steward arrives at the meeting:

The supervisor or manager must inform the steward of the subject matter of the interview: in other words, the type of misconduct being investigated.

The steward must be allowed to have a private meeting with the employee before questioning begins.

The steward can speak during the interview, but cannot insist that the interview be ended.

The steward can object to a confusing question and can request that the question be clarified so that the employee understands what is being asked.

The steward can advise the employee not to answer questions that are abusive, misleading, badgering, or harassing.

When the questioning ends, the steward can provide information to justify the employee’s conduct.

 According to the Supreme Court, when an employee requests a steward or other union representative, management has three options:

1. It can halt questioning until the steward 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 or her rights to a steward, (an option which employees should always refuse).