What are your Weingarten Rights?
In short, they are your right to union representation during a meeting with an administrator. The right to have a union rep present must be requested by the teacher.
Under what circumstances may they be invoked?
They can be invoked when an administrator/supervisor calls a mandatory meeting with you and you have a reasonable belief that the interview will result in disciplinary action or place your job security in jeopardy. This may include a meeting to discuss a teacher’s unfavorable evaluation alone.
How do I invoke them?
By saying the following: “If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, I respectfully request union representation at this meeting.”
What if my request is denied?
Here in Madison the MEA is fortunate to have good working relationships with members of the administrative team. In fact, they’ve been good about letting our members know when union representation may be in order. However, this may not always be the case, so it’s important that you know what you should do if your rights are denied. In this scenario, we advise teachers to:
- Remind the administrator that this is your right by law.
- If they insist on continuing with the meeting, proceed with the meeting so as not to be considered insubordinate.
- As soon as possible, alert on MEA officer that your rights were denied so that a prohibited practice complaint can be filed.
- If your administrator chooses to terminate the meeting or make it “voluntary,” excuse yourself from the meeting and leave.
What is the role of the MEA rep at a Weingarten meeting?
In short, the role of the rep is to provide you with adequate representation, ensuring that the contract is being enforced and their members are receiving due process. This means listening carefully to the issues raised by the administrator, asking relevant, clarifying questions (to either the admin or teacher), as needed, offering different perspectives, as warranted, and taking notes. A rep may NOT…
- be required to remain silent until the employer has finished speaking
- be required to channel questions to the person they’re representing
- insist the employer negotiate
- transform the meeting into a purely adversarial confrontation.
After the employer conducts an investigation, what happens when the employer calls another meeting to inform me of any outcomes or disciplinary actions from the initial meeting? Should a rep be there for that meeting?
No, because this subsequent meeting must be non-investigative and merely informative, you have no right to representation. If you feel the consequences of the investigation are unjust or overly harsh, you can contact your union president who will consult with our CEA rep to see if there are any viable next steps to be taken.