Key Phrase: Recognizing the importance of the role of the Union Steward in resolving problems or disputes between the Employer and its employees, the Employer reaffirms its commitment to the active involvement of union stewards in such processes in accordance with the terms of this Article.
Problem: An issue happens during working hours. You and someone in management are having a dispute. Hopefully not a fight, but a difference in opinions. Your shop steward (lawyer) is allowed to resolve this issue between you and management. This is his elected duty in fact. He or she is there to represent you in a dispute.
Example: You have a safety concern as an example. Your load does not look safe or possibly management is harassing you. Your have the right to ask for your shop steward to represent you is dealing with management. They are a legal entity who is there to represent or give your side of an argument. But keep in mind they are there let you know you are wrong in a particular situation as well. As you, legal representative, thate is what they are there for; advise you as a union member of your rights. Other words, they are your go between when dealing with management. Do not take situations into you own hands if you know the situation is about to escalate.
BIGGER PROBLEM: Management wants to ask you questions that can get you in trouble. You just realize it as you answer their questions. Imagine is a cop stops you and starts to ask you question on the street. Do you answer those questions or do you ask for a lawyer. It is known as the Miranda Rights. Everyone knows that law, but union members don’t know the Weingarten Rights. It functions the same way as the Miranda Rights. You can request and should request a shop steward whenever management, yes even security, starts to question you. Same concept, you want that witness to record what is being said, nothing worse than having someone give a different version of what you may or may not have said. Be smart.
Example: Management wants to ask you about a box or something they think you may have done. Your answers can lead to discipline if you are not careful in answering those questions, more importantly the shop steward is there to inquire as to where a situation is going. You may be able to answer questions truthfully, but the steward is there to ensure there is no type bias or intimidation while answering these questions. The shop steward is there to ensure you are treated with respect and to record what is being said, because in these types of situations, misinterpretation is something you don’t need!
Opinion: It is easy to be the free agent or the person who does not want to cause any trouble. But I promise you will have problems later if you don’t involve that “third” ear in a conversation between you and management. I am not suggesting management can not be dealt with one on one, but in my experiences, it is better to have a witness, especially one that you are paying unions dues for and they are truthful there to represent you in dealing with management. I can not stress enough how many times individuals try to deal with a situation on their own only to get burned, because they did not have representation with them in the first place. Don’t risk not being able to accurately recall a situation or giving a answer that can be misconstrued as something else and now your on the hot seat. Otherwise be situation you don’t like because you tried to go it on you own. Be smart! Use your shop steward; they are there for you.
Remember, if you are approached about anything about work, you would be wise to invoke your Weingarten Rights. If you don’t, you will potentially be very sorry later.
Questions, Comments, and Suggestions
The New 804: 21st Century Approach to Unionism