Federal Civilian Bargaining Union rights

  • Published
  • By Ms. Josie Cole
  • 49th Mission Support Squadron
The rights of unionized employees to have a union representative present during investigatory interviews were announced by the U.S. Supreme court in a 1975 case. These rights have become known as the Weingarten rights.

Employees have the Weingarten rights only during investigatory interviews. An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor questions an employee to obtain information that could be used as basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his or her conduct.

If an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse
consequences may result from what he or she says, the employee has the right to request union representation under the law. Management is not required to inform the employee of his or her Weingarten rights; it is the employees' responsibility to know and request. However, our local National Federation of Federal Employees contract requires that employees be advised of their right to representation prior to any such interview.

When the employee makes the request for a union representative to be
present, management has two options: it can stop the questions until the representative arrives or it can call off the interview and reschedule.

Management must inform the union representative of the subject of the interrogation. The representative must also be allowed to speak privately with the employee before the interview and provide assistance and guidance during the interview. During questioning, the representative can interrupt to clarify a question or to object to confusing or intimidating tactics.

In the unlikely event you, as a bargaining unit employee, are interviewed by either security forces or the Office of Special Investigations in an investigation of any kind you have the statutory right to have a union representative present during the interview process. This right, however, does not extent to non-bargaining unit employees. Both of these investigative agencies are aware of, and understand, the importance ensuring employee rights are not violated when conducting interviews.