An investigatory meeting takes place when a management or a security person meets with an employee, usually to obtain facts about an issue in question. Sometimes it means the employee will ultimately be disciplined, or it could mean that he/she is being questioned to obtain facts only, and whenthe meeting is over, the employee will hear nothing else from the company.

These types of meetings are covered under the "Weingarten Act." This act involved a Supreme Court ruling in 1975 which allows a union representative the opportunity to be present with an employee during this type of meeting. These are items in which your union steward can be of assistance during an investigatory meeting:

  1. The steward can help a fearful or inarticulate employee explain what happened.
  2. The steward can raise extenuating circumstances.
  3. The steward can advise an employee against blindly denying everything, thereby giving the appearance of dishonesty and guilt.
  4. The steward can help prevent an employee from making fatal admissions, but he/she must still tell the truth.
  5. The steward can stop an employee from losing his or her temper.
  6. The steward can serve as a witness to prevent supervisors from giving a false account of the conversation at a later date.

These are the Weingarten rules:

  1. The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. It is not management's responsibility to offer union representation, and in fact may tell you it is not necessary for the union to be present if you ask them!
  2. After the employee makes the request, the employer must grant the request and delay questioning until the steward arrives or end the interview immediately.
  3. When the steward arrives, management must inform the steward of the subject matter of the interview (i.e. type of misconduct). The employee must be allowed to have a private, pre-interview conference with only the steward prior to his/her meeting with management.
  4. The steward must be allowed to speak during the interview. However, the steward does not have the right to bargain over the purpose of the interview.
  5. The steward can request that the supervisor clarify a question so that the worker can understand what is being asked.
  6. After the question is asked, the steward can give advice on how to answer.

Do not let a management or security individual intimidate you during one of these type of meetings, which is often a tactic especially used by security, who is specially trained in this area. These are your rights. Be assertive and know them! Many managers do not even know about Weingarten rights.

A disciplinary meeting is a meeting where some type of disciplinary action will be taken/announced. The union steward is only with you to act as a witness and ask clarifying questions. Your CWA contract guarantees you the right to have union representation at a disciplinary meeting, but again, you must request it if management does not offer.

The steward is not there to hear the grievance or argue with management at a disciplinary meeting. That will come later when the grievance, when you file one, is heard. In other words, the steward has fewer rights at this type of meeting than at an investigatory meeting.

Please--we cannot express enough to everyone how important it is that you are educated in these types of meetings, and that you request union representation at them. It is so vitally important that a union rep be present in order to help with the grievance proceedings later, to act as a witness, and even to be there as moral support for you. Ask the company before you are taken into any meeting if it is investigatory or disciplinary--they are obligated to tell you. Do not ASK them if you need union representation, TELL them you demand it!

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