Know Your Rights - Weingarten Rights

Did you know that the boss cannot question you without your union representative present? It’s your right as a union member! But, you have to ask for one, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

More than Forty years ago, on Feb. 19, 1975, in a case called National Labor Relations Board vs. J. Weingarten, the high court ruled that an employee has the right to request union representation in any meeting that she or he feels could result in discipline or termination. The employer must suspend the meeting until a representative arrives or end the meeting all together.

This was a huge victory for workers. The employer is not permitted to reprimand the employee for asking for a representative, and if the employer continues the interview, the employee may refuse to answer any questions until she or he has time to consult privately with their staff representative.

J. Weingarten, Inc. operated a huge chain of convenient store chains, one of which was located in Houston, where Leura Collins worked. In June 1972, Collins, a lunch-counter clerk, was interrogated by her manager for allegedly placing a dollar in the cash register for a box of chicken that cost $2.98. During the interview, Collins, a member of the Retail Clerks Local 455, requested her shop steward or other union representative be present, but was denied.

Although Collins was later cleared of any wrongdoing, her union filed an unfair labor practice to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). And a new right for workers was born – Our Weingarten Right!

In 2000, the NLRB under Pres. Bill Clinton extended Weingarten Rights to all workers, unionized and non-union; however, this was reversed in 2004 by the NLRB under ex-Pres.George Bush.

Our rights are born out of the brave acts of individuals and the resolve of the collective.