As a union member, you have specific rights spelled out in your union contract. You also have rights that are protected by state and federal laws.
Your Right to a Safe Workplace
Your health and safety at work is protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This administration was created after the passing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. OSHA Standards are rules which your employer must follow to ensure a hazard-free workplace. For more information visit www.osha.gov/workers. If you work under a UFCW Local 455 contract, you can also file a grievance for unsafe working conditions.
In 1975 the United States Supreme Court, in the case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, upheld a National Labor Relations Board decision that gave employees a right to union representation at investigatory interviews when they reasonably believe the interview may result in discipline. Employees also have the right to know before a meeting what general matter, such as work performance, dishonesty, tardiness, etc., is being investigated. However, you MUST request Union Representation! No request, no right!*
Nine times out of ten, stewards are the representatives who attend these meetings with workers. At the beginning of the meeting, this law requires the supervisor or manager to disclose all meeting topics and to give the worker a chance to ask for a representative. Workers can demand the presence of any on-duty steward. If none is available, the supervisor or manager must postpone the meeting until a steward is available. Companies may not punish workers for exercising their Weingarten rights.
If you are called into a meeting which you feel may result in discipline, recite the words at the right to invoke your Weingarten Rights and request union representation.
We encourage all workers to exercise their WEINGARTEN rights.
1. The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview and the employee cannot be punished for making this request.
2. Once the employee has invoked their right to representation, the employer has 2 options:
- The employer can grant the request and delay the interview until representation arrives.
- Deny the request and end the interview.
3. If the employer denies the request for union representation, it has committed an unfair labor practice and the employee can refuse to answer any questions and the employer cannot discipline the employee for such a refusal.
*These rights do not apply if you do not have Union Representation at your workplace.
A grievance is defined as a formal complaint, usually lodged by an employee or the union, alleging a violation of one or more terms in your union contract. The grievance procedure is the steps established in your union contract for the handling of grievances. The purpose of the grievance procedure is to enforce your contract, interpret the meaning and intent of the contract and to settle grievances in a systematic way. If you feel your contractual rights have been violated, call your Union Representative immediately.
Note: There is a time limit for filing grievances, meaning you must grieve the violation within the terms of your contract. Contact your Union Representative for a copy of your contract.
Grievance Procedure Example:
Participation in Union Activity
You have a right to join, support and participate in union activities. It is illegal for an employer to interfere, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of these rights by interrogating, threatening or spying on your union activities. According to Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, employees are guaranteed “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”
Your right to participate in union activities includes:
- Attending union meetings.
- Reading, discussing and distributing union literature, during non-work time, such as breaks or lunch hours, in non-work areas.
- Wearing a union button, sticker, t-shirt or hat.
- Asking other employees to join the union.
It is illegal for employers to threaten employees with adverse consequences if they participate in such activities.