During fact-finding or investigatory interviews, employees have a right to union representation when the employee feels that the information from such a meeting could lead to disciplinary action against them. This is commonly referred to as a Weingarten right. Management is optional to inform an employee of this right. However, the employee is responsible for requesting representation as soon as they become aware of the situation. When a request for union representation is made, management should postpone the meeting for a reasonable period so a union representative can attend. If management continues questioning, the employee should not walk out of the meeting but repeat the request for representation.
Upon the arrival of the union representative, management must inform the representative of the purpose of the meeting. The representative has the right to speak privately to the employee before the start of the questioning. During the interview, the representative may ask clarifying questions, request copies of supporting documentation, and assist the employee through the process. However, neither the employee nor the representative can impede the fact-finding interview.
For more information on Weingarten Rights, please go to National Labor Relations Board-Weingarten Rights.
For AFGE training on Weingarten Representation, please go to Weingarten Rights.
Our collective bargaining agreement states, in part:
Article 1, Section 2. Formal Discussions
a. The Union has a statutory right to be represented at any formal discussion between one or more representatives of the agency and one or more employees in the unit or their representatives concerning any grievance, personnel policy, practices, or other general condition of employment. “Represented” includes the right to be present at the meeting and the right to participate fully in the discussion.
b. This is intended to include something other than a discussion on routine work assignments.
c. The Union has the right to reasonable advance notification and to determine who will serve as the Union’s representative at such a meeting. If the Union does not appear at the meeting, it has waived the right to be represented, and the meeting may be held without the Union.