If you are having a problem at work, your union is here to help. And remember, as a union member, you cannot be forced to have a disciplinary meeting with your boss alone without having your union rep there to have your back.
Talk to your shop steward
The first thing to do if you have a question or issue on the job is check in with one of your shop stewards. UFCW shop stewards are workers who are either elected or appointed as volunteers who help make sure the contract is followed properly and that their coworkers know their rights. Stewards may accompany workers at disciplinary meetings and represent you with management, similar to how a lawyer might represent you in court. Since union reps often cover wide territories and cannot be in every worksite all at once, shop stewards act as the eyes and ears of the workplace, and active and engaged shop stewards are the backbone of a strong union.
Reach out to your union rep
Shop stewards are members like you who work at your workplace and are employed by your same employers. Union representatives, on the other hand, are staff employed by the union and cover a number of stores often over a wide geographic area. If you have a serious concern at work, please reach out directly to your union rep as soon as possible. Union reps can file grievances and meet with management about issues that cannot be resolved by shop stewards.
STOP! Read this before meeting with your manager
As a union member, you cannot be forced into a disciplinary meeting without union representation there to advocate on your behalf, but you must clearly state your desire to have union representation present before or during the meeting.
These rights are called your “Weingarten Rights” after a 1975 Supreme Court Decision establishing them.
To ensure you have clearly stated your desire for union representation, please read this to your supervisor:
After invoking your rights, your employer has three options:
- Grant the request and delay questioning until your union representative arrives and can consult privately with you
- Deny your request and end the meeting immediately or
- Give you a clear choice between having the interview without representation, or ending the interview
It is illegal for your employer to punish you for making this request.
Documenting any issues
If you have a problem at work, write down the details in a private journal with the dates and times problems occurred along with who was present or impacted when the incident(s) occurred. Having detailed notes can help your shop steward or union representative should a grievance need to be filed.