Employees have the right to have a union representative at any meeting or investigatory interview with a supervisor or administrator that the employee reasonably believes might result in disciplinary action.
This is often referred to as “Weingarten rights,” named after a 1975 US Supreme Court decision. In California, the Educational Employment Relations Act incorporates the Weingarten rule.
But the employee must ask. This is not like a Miranda warning. The employer doesn’t have to tell the worker that he or she has the right to union representation. The worker must say that he or she requests a union rep. It is the union’s job to educate unit members to ask for a union rep when they think a meeting might result in discipline.
It doesn’t matter what the meeting is called, if the employee reasonably believes that the meeting might result in discipline, there is a right to representation.
There’s also a right to a union rep in some non-disciplinary interviews, in grievances, meetings to discuss a negative evaluation, meetings to discuss a disputed leave granted in the contract, in meetings about salary adjustments or classification changes.
There’s NO right to representation in routine conversations where the supervisor gives instructions, training, or corrects work techniques.
The right is for a union rep, not a specific one. If a particular union rep is not available, the employer can hold the meeting if another union rep can be there.
If the request for a rep goes unheeded, the worker should attend the meeting, repeat the request for representation, and refrain from answering any questions.
The Supreme Court held that the union rep. must be allowed to speak privately with the employee before the interview and at any time during the interview. The supervisor must inform the union rep. of the subject of the interrogation. During questioning, the rep. can interrupt to clarify a question or to object to confusing or intimidating tactics.