WCE-represented employees are entitled to union representation during questioning by management that could lead to discipline. Members need to be aware of this right.
An employee represented by WCE has a right to have a union representative present during an investigatory interview. Investigatory interviews are meetings in which management may question an employee about some subject that could possibly lead to discipline against the employee. This type of meeting primarily involves questioning about the employee’s conduct or misconduct. Meetings planned for the purpose of disciplinary investigations should be identified by management as such and scheduled in advance whenever possible so that a WCE representative can be present.
Investigatory interviews do not include meetings in which there is no interrogation or questioning or when the possibility of discipline is remote. For example: (not all inclusive)
- Simple presentation by management of adverse comments, a warning or discipline.
- A request to sign a document containing adverse comments.
- Performance evaluation reviews.
- Office/worksite conversations.
- Selection interviews for hiring positions.
- Office/worksite meetings.
- Counseling sessions.
Occasionally, a meeting may shift to an investigative interview. In such instances:
- The employee needs to make clear that he/she requests union representation.
- The supervisor may grant the request or continue the meeting so long as there is no questioning which can reasonably be deemed as leading to discipline against the employee.
- If the supervisor has any question regarding the direction of the meeting, he/she may delay the meeting or allow for representation.
Once a request for representation has been made, a reasonable amount of time should be allowed for the presence of a union steward or representative to be obtained. The supervisor may also request that a party of his/her choosing be present.
For the Union to play a constructive role, the Executive Director, or an on-site steward or officer, needs to be informed of the subject matter of the interview and allowed time to take the employee aside for a private pre-meeting conference. The WCE representative’s role is to clarify issues and give an employee advice on how to answer questions; s/he may also present additional information. Stewards do not have a right to negotiate the purpose of the interview.
WCE strongly advises employees to fully cooperate in any investigative interview by reporting to and remaining at the meeting, being courteous, and truthfully answering questions asked, as well as signing any reasonable document requested of him/her for purposes of certifying that the document has been given to him or her.